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4-Star SunSmart Women's Classic - Perfect Surf Continues

6-Star Salomon Masters (March 29 - April 4)
& 4-Star SunSmart Women's Classic
Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2004 World Qualifying Series (WQS)

Perfect Surf Continues

Thursday, April 1, 2004 (Margaret River, Western Australia) Perfect surf continued today for Australia's premiere World Qualifying Series (WQS) the Prime rated 6-Star Salomon Masters. The women's 4-Star SunSmart Classic also commenced, running simultaneously to the men's tournament in ideal conditions at nearby Southsides.

Excellent 6ft (2m) waves were on offer for both the men and women's tournaments, with two separate right and lefthand peaks being utilized at Surfer's Point, Margaret River.

South African Ricky Basnett surfed a dream heat in the dayís opening clash, emerging from a couple of deep tube rides. The 18-year-old posted a fantastic 9.5 for the first barrel ride of the 2004 Salomon Masters, and combined with another 8.67, collected the second highest tally of the event so far. Together with runner-up Gabe Kling (USA), they ended the run of local star Rique Smith and Che Stang (USA).

"So stoked," began Basnett.

"I didn't catch a wave for the first 15-minutes, but then I got lucky when that one came out of nowhere. I didnít expect it to barrel at all, but then it started to throw, so I pulled in and made it. Conditions were ideal."

Hawaiian Pancho Sullivan then continued the international charge, earning a 9.33 score during the following match. The powerful natural footer always appreciates the bigger wave venues, and was quick to give added credit to event sponsor Salomon for staging the Masters at Margaret River.

"The waves are beautiful today," began Sullivan.

"It's a tricky lineup out here, but I was very blessed with one really good wave. It's always a little nerve-racking when you travel so far; you dread an early round loss. Hopefully I can build some momentum from here and get another high result.

"It's great a company like Salomon recognizes the value in quality wave venues and how much higher the level of surfing can actually be," he added.

"It's important to be a well-rounded surfer, but hats off to them for picking a consistent location and supporting surfing and the World Qualifying Series (WQS) surfers."

New Zealand's Maz Quinn picked up where his younger brother Jay - who was eliminated yesterday afternoon - left off. The former WCT surfer locked in the dayís best single score for a near-perfect 9.7, and advanced with the second highest tally of 17.63 points. Over Germany's sole entrant in the Salomon Masters, Marlon Lipke, the pair eliminated Damon Nichols (Gold Coast, AUS) and Japan's Naohisa Ogawa.

"I just got onto a rhythm and two really good waves in a row," said Quinn.

"My board felt good and I just hit the lip as many times as I could. My brother was a bit unlucky yesterday, but I'm just taking it heat by heat at the moment and hopefully keep on going."

Drew Everest used a lucky last wave to become the lone West Australian to advance into the top seeded rounds of the event. In the latter stages of his heat the 21-year-old was lagging in 3rd position before picking off one of the dayís better waves and posted a brilliant 9.27 ride. The powerful natural footer executed a series of strong backhand re-entries to claim victory and progress in front of Hawaii's Love Hodel.

"I saw that one wedge up and thought I might get a good score on the left, and was able to do a few turns and link it up all the way," recalled Everest.

"It's a perfect size for Margaret's today. I'd give it a nine and a half out of 10. Last year I was knocked out in that round, so this is the best Iíve done so far and am stoked."

Gold Coaster Damon Harvey (QLD, AUS) commenced his Salomon Masters campaign on track with a great win this morning. The goofy footer came alive during the second half of his match, taking the win from Eli Mirandon (USA) and together eliminating Australians Russell Molony and Jock Barnes.

"In the last half I seemed to find my flow and ended up getting the sets," explained Harvey. "This is the biggest contest of the year, besides the final one in Hawaii, so youíve got to make it count. Weíre all really lucky to have great waves."

Other standouts today included Iker Fuentes (ESP), Joao Gutemberg (BRZ), Australians Shane Bevan (AUS), Ben Dunn (NSW, AUS), and Scott Wildin (Gold Coast, QLD), as well as Tyler Fox (USA) and Sean Moody (HAW).

In the women's SunSmart Classic, organizers ran through the opening rounds with quarterfinalists already decided and expected to hit the water tomorrow morning, again at Southsides.

Three-time consecutive (2000-02) SunSmart Classic winner and local West Australian Melanie Redman-Carr kept her hopes of a record eighth final's appearance at Margarets alive. The former world #2, who finished runner-up last year, began her campaign with a win this morning over fellow Australian Kate Skarratt. Despite a wave-starved heat, the experienced veteran used her knowledge of the venue to secure the better rides.

"It was very clean and a nice size, but during our heat there was a bit of a lull and no one was really catching any waves," began Redman-Carr. "In the past this event wouldn't have counted at all towards the end of the year ratings. Now with it being a 4-Star it's an important result, so it makes all the difference for a serious WQS tournament."

Defending SunSmart Classic champion Heather Clark (ZAF) also progressed to the quarters. The world #3 is the highest rated WCT surfer competing, and edged out fellow South African Jessica Matthews for the win.

"There were good waves out there, but you had to be really selective," explained Clark. "I'm glad the other girls didn't get too many, as it was a low scoring heat. It was good the other South African girl, Jessica Matthews, also made it through. I wasn't going to come over this year if it remained a 1-Star event. I find this a good warm up for the next World Championship Tournament (WCT) in Fiji though, so I'm really happy it was upgraded."

Former world #3 Lynette MacKenzie posted the most convincing victory today, with three eight plus scores in her tally. Her combined two wave total of 17.25-points has set the benchmark for the tournament, and pushed her through along with runner-up getter Laurina McGrath (Byron Bay, AUS).

"That was the first time I've ever surfed out there," explained MacKenzie. "It was a little bit difficult, but compared to anything I get at home in Sydney, it was really good. We don't have that many competitions in Australia, so it's really important this event was upgraded and a lot of the girls will be counting their results here at the end of year towards qualifying. It's great to be here, as weíre pretty much guaranteed to get good waves."

Also through to the quarterfinals are Australians Pauline Menczer, Amee Donohoe, Amanda Clegg, Phillipa Tugwood, Dara Penfold and Rebecca Woods, as well as South African Sarah Johnston and the United States Jodie Nelson and Erica Hosseini.

Former world #2 Serena Brooke (Gold Coast, AUS) was forced to withdraw from the SunSmart Classic due to an unfortunate free-surfing accident prior to the event. Her surfboard tail and fin smashed into the left side of her face, leaving a serious cut under the eye and need for hospitalization and intensive microsurgery.

A live webcast is available on during competition hours throughout the eventís waiting period (March 29 - April 4).

The Salomon Masters is proudly sponsored by Salomon, "Perth" Western Australia, SunSmart, Department of Sport &Recreation, Wet Dreams International, Tooheys Extra Dry, Coca-Cola, SAAB, 92.9 ninety two. nine, Bacardi & Cola, Evans & Tate, Margarets Beach Resort, Corporate Traveller, Telstra Country Wide, Margaret River Law, Tracks, Bico Australia and Odyssey 2020.



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