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Dara Penfold Wins SunSmart Classic at Margaret River

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

Dara Penfold Wins SunSmart Classic

Saturday, April 3, 2004 (Margaret River, Western Australia) Tasmania's Dara Penfold today upstaged some of the world's top rated women to win the 4-Star SunSmart Classic at Margaret River. The Prime rated 6-Star Salomon Masters also showcased all top seeded male surfers today, with the final rounds scheduled to unfold tomorrow morning.

Excellent 4-6ft (1.5-2m) waves continued at Surfer's Point main break, with clean right and lefthand barrels on offer.

Penfold, the 22-year-old "rookie" against three highly accomplished opponents, created a commanding lead within the first five minutes of the 30-minute decider. The natural footer picked off a couple of clean righthanders and executed smooth carves through to inside rock ledge, scoring a 6.83 first ride and then the finals best - an 8.67, the following wave. With a vocal cheer squad offering encouragement throughout, even branding "Go Dara!" across their clothing and surfboards, the win proved popular, as well as deserving.

"I'm over the moon," began Penfold. "This is the first time I've ever made a final, so to actually go out and win it is a whole different thing. I'm stoked I got those good waves at the start, as it made me more relaxed. I knew the other girls needed high scores to catch me, so I was stoked."

Having won her last major tournament in 1999 at the World Grommets Titles, today's result has definitely sparked renewed interest in the remainder of this year's World Qualifying Series (WQS), with the hopes of securing a spot within the upper echeloen of the sport for 2005.

"Before this event I was pretty much only going to compete in Australia, since I lost my sponsorship a year and a half ago and don't really have any money," she explained. "Maybe after this event I'll think about the rest of the tour. My mum and dad have been helping me a lot, so I owe a lot to them."

Three-time consecutive (2000-02) SunSmart Classic winner and local West Australian Melanie Redman-Carr reached a record eighth finals appearance at Margarets, but had to settle for a second consecutive runner-up placing. The former world #2 never appeared to find the winning rhythm, requiring another score worth 8.48 to bridge the gap.

"After being in so many finals here my only goal was to win it, so I'm a bit disappointed," admitted Redman-Carr. "I didn't feel I made too many mistakes, but was just out-surfed by Dara. She's such a great surfer and tore it to pieces.

"It's really good for me to have an event at home which counts," she added, of the tournament being upgraded. "We get such good waves around here, it's a shame we donít have more."

1993 world champion Pauline Menczer (Byron Bay, AUS) finished third, while defending SunSmart Classic champion Heather Clark (ZAF) never scored higher than a 6.33 when it counted most.

Equal fifth today in the SunSmart Classic were Australians Laurina McGrath (Byron Bay) and Rebecca Woods (Copacabana), while Amanda Clegg (Gold Coast) and South African Jessica Matthews placed equal seventh overall.

Meanwhile, in the men's Salomon Masters tournament, world #3 and 1997 event champion Taj Burrow (West AUS) commenced his campaign with an opening win. The 25-year-old actually creased his surfboard first wave, but opted to remain on it and was soon rewarded a fantastic righthand tube ride and 9.0 score. Rising star Bede Durbidge (Gold Coast, AUS) finished a close runner-up, with Salomon event wildcard and local hero Dave Macaulay and Russell Winter (GBR) eliminated.

"I actually creased my board first wave, and I was so worried about whether I should go in and change it, or just try and nurse it," explained Burrow. "I ended up staying on it, and got a couple, so lucky it was enough. I was definitely worried about being matched up with Dave cause he's pretty tuned in with Margaret's, but thankfully he didnít get them. Bede got some really good ones too, so it was a really tough heat. Hopefully conditions remain."

Brazilian Neco Padaratz (Florianopolis, SC) dominated the day's opening match, earning a 9.0 first ride. He then locked in another 7.5 to convincingly advance with South African Greg Emslie, and all focus is now on claiming the event's top spot tomorrow.

"Margaret's always gives me that little tickle in the tummy," explained Padaratz. "Three years I've been in three semifinals here, and placed runner-up once. I'm always at the top of the tree and almost get the fruit, so I'm just waiting for God to give me the waves. I'm focused and trying to keep things simple."

Salomon team riders Dan Ross (Angourie) and world #6 Kieren Perrow (Byron Bay) both advanced this morning with commanding performances over Brazilian Fabio Gouveia and fellow Australian Adam Robertson (Portland, VIC). Ross gained advantage with a couple strong rides, adding to his confidence by outscoring his roommate and more experienced competitor.

"It was great to beat Kieren," said Ross. "We're staying together and he got sixth in the world last year, so it's always good to beat someone who surfs so well. I've been watching heats all week and its been pumping, so I was amping to get out there and catch a few, which I did that heat."

Other standouts today included Franceís Eric Rebiere, Brazilian Renan Rocha and Australians Tom Whitaker (Bronte) and Richie Lovett (Manly).

Australia's premier World Qualifying Series (WQS) tournament will climax tomorrow around midday, with the 2004 Salomon Masters champion crowned. A live webcast is available on www.salomonmasters.com during competition hours.

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.

InsuranceSurfers.com

 


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