IBA Box Pro
Event 2, Men’s Grand Slam Series
The Box, West Australia
NEW FORMAT IMPLEMENTED ON GSS TOUR
Margaret River, WA, Australia (Saturday, April 16, 2011): Just three riders including reigning International Bodyboard Association World Tour champion Amaury Lavernhe (REU), former two-time world champion Ben Player (Avalon, NSW, AUS) and local Ryan Hardy (Margaret River, WA, AUS) have managed consecutive heat wins on day one of the IBA Box Pro.
The IBA Box Pro is the first-ever event to utilise a unique three round non-elimination format, designed to reward contestants for consistency and give fans more opportunity to see their favourite riders perform at world-class venues.
All 32 international riders in the $30,000 event surfed a total of two times each today, with the back-up venue at Gas Bay producing wedgy, high performance peaks in the two-metre range.
Lavernhe’s two heat totals of 11.75 and 13.50 were enough to earn the Frenchman 12 points and a place at the top of the leader board, the 25 year-old defeating the likes of Eder Luciano (BRA), Spencer Skipper (Haw) and Manuel Centeno (PRT) during his two outings today.
“I have been coming here (to WA and Gas Bay) on the tour for four years now, cruising here every year because I really love this place, it’s a really nice place for me to focus on my riding in right handers because back home in Reunion, we have so many lefthanders. But in that time I haven’t surfed Gas much in conditions like today,” said Lavernhe.
“Gas is a very good wave because it is a combination between a reef and a beachbreak. It’s pretty powerful when it hits the reef and you always get a nice section. It was a bit tough in my second heat because the waves were not consistent enough, but that is the only thing.
“The wave changes a lot you can have some good combinations, you can get some good hits on the first section and do a good move, then another in the beachbreak, but the beach break is a bit tricky. Many guys have been getting stuck and not landing their last moves because the beach is a bit hard to read, but it’s been really fun start today and the format is exciting,” said Lavernhe.
Hardy, who comes into this event with big expectations having built his international reputation thanks in part to his hard charging dominance in the region, used local knowledge to his advantage, finding his highest scoring wave today on a rare lefthander.
“It definitely pays to have local knowledge at Gas Bay,” explained Hardy. “I noticed everyone was looking to go right and when that wave popped up, I was the only one in a position and I could see it was going to be a good one. And it paid off, it was the best wave I had the whole heat.”
Tour leader, Pipeline Pro champion Jeff Hubbard (HAW), brother Dave, Jake Stone (Caloundra, Qld, AUS) and local wildcard Chad Jackson (Woodlands, WA, AUS) were drawn against one another in one of the most highly anticipated heats of Round 1.
Jackson’s eventual win was a true come-from-behind effort, the 29 year-old languished in fourth place for most of the 25-minute heat, but then pulled out a massive score in the dying moments to earn an excellent 9.25 from the judges.
“It (the wave) came in a bit wider, but I could see it had a really good barrel section, then after that I thought I have to really got for it, so I flipped it. That wave was a good set, a lot bigger than most of the waves that came in during my heat and the judges liked it,” said Jackson.
Hubbard, who finished second behind Jackson, was the last rider to win under the former 50% progression heat format when he claimed the Pipeline Pro at home in February.
“The new format is cool. The good news is that you don’t get knocked out if you get last or third. So Dave (Hubbard) and Stoney (Jake Stone) who were in my heat are still in it, but the disadvantage is that if you get a first or second, like I did, then you still have work to do, you’re not automatically into the next round. There is still pressure to perform in each and every heat,” explained Hubbard.
“After this contest we’ll all get to see how it plays out, but this is a great testing ground and great location to test it,” he added.
Two riders thankful for the new format are international visitors Keahi Parker (Haw) of Hawaii and Magno Oliveira (BRA) who missed their Round 1 heats after disappearing to a nearby surf spot for an early morning session. Oliveira shook off the mishap and charged to a strong heat win in Round 2 and both riders remain with a chance at redeeming themselves and progressing to the final 16.
Gold Coaster, Mitch Rawlins (Broadbeach, Qld AUS), was granted a wildcard to the IBA Box Pro and is consistently a crowd favourite. The 27 year-old did not disappoint today, registering the day’s highest individual wave score of 9.7 out of a possible perfect 10. He found his way from inside the tube on one of the day’s largest and angriest waves, then completed the ride with a text-book inverted aerial on the inside close-out section.
The live web streaming was not available due to the remoteness of Gas Bay, however, fans were treated to regular updates with scores, pictures and info being posted to the official website atibaworldtour.com following each heat. Facebook and Twitter updates were also sent regularly throughout the day.
Video highlights are posted for viewing via the ‘video’ link at ibaworldtour.com.
With the swell forecasted to continue past the weekend and into early next, organisers remain confident of an epic finish at the primary venue, The Box.
Considered on of the most exciting waves on the IBA World Tour, the reef is situated some 500 metres out to sea and north across the bay from Margaret River’s Surfer’s Point, and offers an incredibly hollow barrel with an end section ramp, perfect for blasting huge moves.
Local rider, Hardy, has grown up riding the location and knows it for all its moods. It’s a fickle location but the timing of the IBA event looks just right.
“I have high hopes for sick waves, possibly on Monday we could see it get really good at The Box. We’re looking for a lower period swell which will give us consistent waves which at the moment should be in the three-to-six foot range and that’s ideal. The winds are offshore and the tides are a good level all day,” said Hardy.
The $30,000 IBA Box Pro is the second of eight events on the 2011 Men’s Grand Slam Series tour and just one more full day of competition is required to find a winner.
Top Riders after Round 2 (1st=6pts, 2nd=4pts, 3rd=2pts, 4th=1pt)
Ryan Hardy (AUS) 12pts
Amaury Lavernhe (REU) 12pts
Ben Player (AUS) 12pts
Jeff Hubbard (Haw) 10pts
Guilherme Tamega (BRA) 10pts
Mitch Rawlins (AUS) 8pts
Jared Houston (ZAF) 8pts
Uri Valadao (BRA) 8pts
Pierre Louis Costes (FRA) 8pts
Chase O’Leary (AUS) 8pts
Mark McCarthy (ZAF) 8pts
Upcoming Round 3 Heats
Ht 17: Guilherme Tamega (BRA), Ryan Hardy (AUS), Manuel Centeno (PRT), Mitch Rawlins (AUS)
Ht 18: Diego Cabrero, Magno Oliveira (BRA), Michael Novy (AUS), Spencer Skipper (Haw)
Ht 19: Amaury Lavernhe (REU), Ben Player (AUS), Dave Hubbard (HAW), Sam Bennett (AUS)
Ht 20: Jeff Hubbard (Haw), Mike Stewart (Haw), Tom Rigby (AUS), Keahi Parker (Haw)
Ht 21: Pierre Louis Costes (FRA), Uri Valadao (BRA), Mitch Wooldand (AUS), Cade Sharp (AUS)
Ht 22: Dallas Singer (AUS), Eder Luciano (BRA), Chase O’Leary (AUS), Chad Jackson (AUS)
Ht 23: Jared Houston (ZAF), Jake Stone (AUS), Gastao Entrudo (PRT), Nick Ormerod (AUS)
Ht 24: Mark McCarthy (ZAF), Dave Winchester (AUS), Damien King (AUS), Joe Clarke (AUS)
MUSIC//Planet Love Sound planetlovesound.com
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