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Surf and hail just don't mix

Wet And Wild With Rockin' Fig

March 16, 2006|By RICK FIGNETTI

There's been some stormy weather the last couple of weeks along the California coastline.

This storm brought us an Arctic blast of freezing air, with lows dropping to the 30s ? not to mention gusty winds, dark clouds in all shapes and sizes, rain squalls and even some hail.

The water is iceberg patrol. We're talking mid-50s ? ouch ? with a wind-chill factor to boot. Luckily, spring is just around the corner.

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It's still summer in Australia, and they just finished the World Championship Tour's Quiksilver Pro in sunny 2- to 3-foot surf at Duranbah on the Gold Coast.

Taking the win was none other than seven-time world champ, 34-year-old Kelly Slater, who looks as sharp as ever, even after the layoff from last season.

Slates had some remarkable heats, even getting the longest tube ride of the event to win $5,000 in addition to the winner's purse of 30 grand.

In the final, he dueled with top Aussie air-master Taj Burrow, who patiently waited for the bigger sets. Meanwhile, Slater would go for anything that rolled in and still tore 'em up, even getting a 9.0 ride that put it out of reach for Burrow.

Slater moved one victory away from former world champ Tom Curren's record of 33 WCT tour wins. It looks like his record will fall this season.

Burrow had a bad foot injury at the end of last year but looks to be in top form again. He was ripping big time and is in the No. 2 spot in the early goings of the season.

Equal thirds went to rookies Bobby Martinez of Santa Barbara ? who took out biggies Phil MacDonald and Damien Hobgood ? and Brazilian Adriano De Souza, who was surfing lightning-fast and is part of the new guard of 10 hot rookies in the top 45 who are looking to do some heavy damage this year.

Equal fifths were three-time world champ Andy Irons, Carlsbad's Taylor Knox and East Coaster Damien Hobgood.

Next up for the men is the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia, April 11 to 21.

In the women's at the Roxy Pro, also held at Duranbah, the veterans took over.

Aussie Melanie Redman Carr surfed a solid final, edging six-time world champ Layne Beachley for the $10,000 first-place prize. It was Carr's first win since 2002 in Fiji, and she was thrilled by her performance. Beachley is coming back from a neck injury that still bothered her a bit in this contest. Tying for third were Aussie Samantha Cornish and Hawaiian Rochelle Ballard. Losing out in the quarters were hot rookies Stephanie Gilmore and Brazilian Silvana Lima, who together took out the first and second seeds of the contest ? world champ Chelsea Georgeson and former world champ Sophia Mulanovich ? to wrap up an exciting event.

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