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4-Star SunSmart Women's Classic - Competition Nears Business End

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

Competition Nears Business End

Friday, April 2, 2004 (Margaret River, Western Australia) The Prime rated 6-Star Salomon Masters - Australia's premiere World Qualifying Series (WQS) event - today entered the business end of the draw with top seeded surfers in action. Quarterfinals of the women's 4-Star SunSmart Classic were also decided, running simultaneously to the menís tournament in ideal conditions at nearby Southsides.

Perfect 6ft (2m) waves continued at Surferís Point, Margaret River. Strong offshore winds subsided throughout the day, creating an ideal West Australian day for the international visitors and hordes of local supporters.

South African David Weare top scored this morning in what proved a fiercely competitive clash. Ahead of Hawaiian Joel Centeio, he locked in a brilliant 9.43 and another 8.0. Meanwhile, former South African resident Shaun Gossman (Gold Coast, AUS) and World Grommet Champion Ben Dunn (NSW, Aus) became entangled in a paddling hassle for a peaking wave, with Dunn ultimately incurring an interference call after blocking Gossman from the superior lefthander.

"I guess the other guys got into a bit of a hassle, and weren't lucky to get enough of their own waves," reasoned Weare. "I'm stoked to advance though, as the (ratings) points begin to really count towards qualifying for next yearís WCT."

Brazilian Yuri Sodre opened his account with a couple of great scores, including a 9.0 to seal victory ahead of Tyler Fox (USA), Hawaiian Dustin Barca and Ben Bourgeois (USA). The former WCT surfer is determined to claw his way back into the upper echelon of the sport, with every heat making the difference.

"I was nervous at the start and wiped out my first wave, but told myself to stay calm," recalled Sodre. "I'm focused, as I've been training to get back on the WCT. My family is supporting me, and I miss them while I'm on tour, but I've learned so much about life from traveling. Iím from a third world country, so it's hard. You've got to have faith, and I'm really happy to make that heat."

Manly's Matt Bemrose (NSW) posted the day's first win over fellow Australians Shane Bevan (Gold Coast) and Shaun Cansdell (Mullaway, NSW), as well as the USA's Gavin Beschen. The goofy footer overcame a slow start, picking off an 8.0 to progress.

"It was super windy out there, and kind of hard," explained Bemrose. "I just lucked out and picked off an 8.0 set wave, which got me through. This is the business end now, where you have to do well. There's a lot of (ratings) points and money on offer."

Adrian Buchan (Avoca, NSW) continued his recent form - having finished runner-up to six-time world champ Kelly Slater (FL, USA) last week in the qualifying event at Newcastle. The 22-year-old overcame fellow Australian Joel Fitzgerald (Narrabeen, NSW), and together accounted for Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) and Sean Moody (HAW).

"It's not often we get to surf in competition in waves like this," said Buchan. "I was a little bit nervous to surf my first heat, but also really excited. I got off to a good start with a nice barrel. I've definitely got some added confidence out in the water, which has carried through from the event at Newcastle. Hopefully I can string a couple more heats together, but I'm not putting any added pressure on myself."

Other standouts today included Australians Dayyan Nev (Manly, NSW), Bede Durbidge (Gold Coast, QLD), Hawaiians Fred Patacchia, Jamie O'Brien and Pancho Sullivan, as well as the USA's Tim Reyes and Chris Ward.

Unfortunately Luke Hitchings (Bronte, AUS) - who yesterday afternoon posted the only perfect 10-point ride of the Salomon Masters - was forced to withdraw this morning due to personal family matters. Defending event champion Mick Campbell (Port Macquarie, NSW) also missed the same heat, after becoming sick.

The women's SunSmart Classic quarterfinals were decided at Southsides, with the event climax scheduled to unfold tomorrow around midday.

1993 world champion Pauline Menczer and fellow Byron Bay surfer Laurina McGrath dominated the first quarterfinal, edging out yesterday's standout Lynette MacKenzie (Maroubra, AUS) and the USA's Jodi Nelson. Menczer was especially eager to advance, given the opportunity to compete at Margaret River main break.

"I'm so excited," began Menczer. "When I realized I had a chance to advance, I really concentrated on getting the good waves cause I just love surfing at Margaret's. Iím so stoked to make the semis. Conditions should be great."

Three-time consecutive (2000-02) SunSmart Classic winner and local West Australian Melanie Redman-Carr moved one step closer to a record eighth finals appearance at Margarets. The former world #2 advanced with runner-up Amanda Clegg, while Australians Kate Skarratt (Gold Coast) and Amee Donahoe were eliminated. Clegg, who was born in Western Australia and still has family in the area, was surprised to reach the final day of competition in such an important event.

"I only caught two waves, but luckily both were good ones," explained Clegg. "It's a bit intimidating being up against the main girls, and I didn't think I was going to get through that heat, but Iím really happy and it should be great surfing at Main Break. I've got family who live down here and it's my favorite place in Australia."

Defending SunSmart Classic champion Heather Clark (ZAF) posted a convincing win, again defeating Jessica Matthews, as well as fellow South African Sarah Johnston and local girl Phillipa Tugwood. The world #3 earned a near-perfect 9.5 and another 7.1 to advance.

"I think that was the first time ever three South Africans have been against each other in a heat overseas," reasoned Clark. "I was lucky to get a good wave which kept reforming through the inside section. I'm really happy to have made it, and am stoked Jessica did also."

Rebecca Woods (Copacabana, NSW) continued her winning form with the highest combined scores (17.25-points) of the SunSmart Classic, progressing with runner-up Dara Penfold (Hobart, TAS) into tomorrow's second semifinal. Having won the previous 1-Star WQS event last week in Newcastle, Woods is eager to repeat the result here where the points have more significance.

"I actually smashed my face on my board at the start and had a bleeding mouth and nose," explained Woods. "I was a bit shaken up, but then settled down and got some good waves. It's great to be here and enjoy good waves for a contest. I've never surfed out at main break before, but can't wait for tomorrow."

A live webcast is available on during competition hours throughout the event's 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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