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11 May 1999


In event four on the G-SHOCK ASP World Tour, the Gotcha Tahiti Pro at Teahupoo, South Africa's lone campaigner on the World Championship Tour (WCT), Greg Emslie from East London, posted his second substandard performance of the tournament loosing to Australian Jake Patterson in round two.

Emslie ranked 39 on the WCT scored a total of 4.75 out of a possible 30 points to Patterson's shattering 20.75, ending his hopes of a counting result in what can only be described as the most challenging event on the WCT, as waves increased in all dimensions for round two. Emslie's first disappointment of the contest came in the form of a low scoring 5.55 in round one of competition on Sunday, with his second low scoring heat highlighting a definite flaw in the 22 year-old's campaign.

Consolation for Emslie is the fact that current world number one ranked professional surfer Taj Burrow, of Western Australia, has finished in equal last place going down in round two yesterday to Tahitian wild card Manoa Drollet.

Burrow took to the water in the first heat of round two, his physical fitness tested by one of the world's most powerful waves which was breaking in the solid 3-4 metre range. Burrow had a tough draw in Drollet, who was born and raised on the waves of Teahupoo and, despite being little known in pro surfing circles, is a favourite for the event given his
local knowledge and courageous approach.

Drollet had the heat from the outset, pinning down the better waves of each set and scoring one to two points higher than Burrow with each exchange. The final score of the heat, based on each surfer's best three rides had Drollet on 21 points out of 30 to Burrow's 17 points.

"What more could you ask for than the chance to surf against the world's best?" said Drollet. "I'm so happy. But I think I'm only good because I'm one of the only surfers that truly knows this break well. I don't think that I'd be doing as well if the contest was at any other break in the world. These surfers are the best."

In the very next heat, another top seed fell to a wild card when 17-year-old Hawaiian Bruce Irons brought about the demise of Nathan Webster (Australia). Irons, who featured in the final of the Pipeline Masters in Hawaii last December, wove his magic again today in an exciting exchange with Webster. Irons emerged victorious with scores of 9.0, 8.0 and 6.0.

"Nathan was charging super hard out there and it turned into a really good heat," said Irons. " I guess my waves were a little better but it was so scary out there. "I was stoked to get a wild card into this event; this wave is so perfect.
But it's definitely one of the heaviest in the world. "Being in the final at Pipeline last year gives me a bit more confidence,
but it¹s heavier out here at this break than at Pipeline."

Australian Richie Lovett became the heaviest casualty of the tournament to date, receiving 15 stitches in his head today after a horrific wipe-out which came at the end of a near-perfect ride. Looking strong for a win in his heat against fellow Australian Daniel Wills, Lovett was forced to paddle to shore after landing on the coral reef on his head.

"I came out of the barrel on a pretty heavy wave and tried to get out of the wave in time before it closed out," explained Lovett. "I jumped out over the back of the wave but it grabbed me and dragged me back over the falls.

"I landed head first on the reef and I knew I had hit hard and the damage would be pretty bad. I put my hand back there and it was covered in blood. I knew it was over. "That was a good wave. I got nine points on it so it was a bit of a
disappointment that I couldn't finish off the heat. I was hoping for a good result in this contest because I¹ver had a very average season so far. I made every barrel that I pulled into today, but I just couldn't finish the heat."

The swell definitely peaked today, so organisers are hoping to complete the remaining rounds of competition within the next two days ­ injury free. At round three stage the Brazilian contingent has been the heaviest hit with only two men left standing: rookie Crhistiano Spirro and Renan Rocha. The bulk of the draw is taken up with 15 Australians, six mainland Americans, seven Hawaiians and two Tahitians.

While the South Pacific Gotcha event enjoys an abundance of surf, event one on the Vodacom Surf Series, the Gotcha Vodacom Experiencia has not been so lucky thus far, as 12 of South Africa's top surfers play the waiting game for swell at Punta D'Orou Mozambique.

This specialty event, restricted to the top surfers chosen by means of a national ballot, offers a winner take all purse of R15 000. Last year's winner's Shane Thorne (DBN), Sean Holmes (S.Cape) and Byron Howarth (DBN) once again in contention for the spoils this year.

The window period for the event is from the 10 - 20 May, with officials anticipating bigger surf towards the end of the week. The 1998 enjoyed some of the most perfect surf ever seen along South African shores, with contestants hoping for even better surf this year if that were at all possible.


Greg Emslie (22) from East London will take to the crystal clear yet thundering waters of Teahupoo Tahiti later today in the Gotcha Tahiti Pro, the fourth event of the 1999 G-SHOCK A.S.P. World Championship Tour (WCT).

Mother Nature dealt contestants and officials a rough hand yesterday as powerful overnight waves in the 3-4 metre range destroyed the $50,000 judging / administration tower.

Officials arrived yesterday for the final day of preliminary competition to find a spaghetti-like mangle of scaffold on the reef.  The official tower was constructed 400 metres from shore on the shallow reef which fronts the competition break and is only accessible by water craft. With the destruction of the tower, judging for the final day of the preceding trials event, which will decide the wild card entrants, has been forced to take place from a boat in the line-up. Subsequently, the official judging boat has to take extreme caution as it views each
surfer's ride while dodging the powerful waves.

The tournament was incepted in 1997 and has been a World Qualifying Series (WQS) rated event, with this year's contest being upgraded to a grade one US $120 600  WCT event featuring the top 44 men and 16 women. Each year the event has been challenged by nature; in 1997, the multi-million dollar boat that the contest was being run from was swamped on the reef, and in 1998 the reef tower was damaged.

Inpite of set backs, tis year's tournament will push ahead, come hell or high water, unfazed by natural
forces or technical difficulties and encouraged by the consistency of some of the greatest waves on the planet.

Emslie ranked 39 will contend with Cristiano Spirro (BRZ) ranked 31 and Brian Hewitson (USA) ranked 43 in heat 14 of round one. Emslie's debut WCT campaign opened up with an impressive ninth place in event one, the Billabong Pro held at Cabarita Beach in New South Wales Australia, where he defeated Brazilian Peteson Rosa in round two and Shane Dorian from Hawaii in round three. A 17th place at event two, The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach Australia and a 33rd finish in the Coca-Cola Surf Classic at Manley Beach Sydney, give Emslie a current WCT rating of 29.

The four wild cards for this year's Gotcha Tahiti Pro will be: 1993 world champion Derek Ho (Hawaii), 1998 Gotcha Tahiti Pro champion Koby Aberton (Aus), and the top two placed finishers from the preliminary trials event which will conclude earlier today.

The women's division wild card will go to last year's women's Gotcha Pro champion Keala Kennelly (Hawaii).

So far, the standout of the men's trials event has been Hawaiian John Gomes, who scored a perfect 10 point ride on the opening day of competition. Top seeds for the Gotcha Tahiti Pro are current WCT ratings leaders Taj Burrow (Australia), who recently won the Australian Coca-Cola Surf Classic, and women's world champion Layne Beachley (Australia).

The event runs untill May 15 and is expected to deliver some of the strongest waves ever surfed in a WCT event outside of Hawaii.

source:: ASP newsletter

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