PRAIA DE SANTA BARBARA, Sao Miguel – Azores Islands (Tuesday, September 18, 2018) –The Azores Airlines World Masters Championship launched today in good three-to-four foot surf at praia de Santa Barbara, on the north shore of Sao Miguel island in the Azores archipelago. This World Surf League specialty event crowning the World Champions of surfing in age categories over 45, brought back some of the most successful competitive surfers of all time for an exciting first day of action.
The Azores delivered a picture-perfect summer day with scorching heat and playful waves. Action got underway mid-morning with a clash for the ages, Luke Egan (AUS) against 2000 World Champion Sunny Garcia (HAW). Both surfers found decent waves early on to build house but it was Garcia who put on a good combination of backhand turns for a 6.50 and the lead mid heat. But the Australian goofy foot started on a goof left on the five-minute mark and destroyed it with multiple carves for 7.10 and the win.
“It’s so good being here, being in the water and hanging out with your old mates,” Egan said. “It’s insane to see that these guys after so many years are just as passionate about their surfing. The waves are fantastic, there’s plenty of push for the old guys and it’s a really nice setup.”
In the following heat unfortunately the ocean turned deadly quiet and while four-time World Champion Tom Curren (USA) managed to start on a few low-scoring rides, Gary Elkerton (AUS) could not find a single wave and made his way in with a 0.00 point total. The Australian, a former Pipe Master and Triple Crown of Surfing winner will have two more chances to fight it out against Shane Beschen (HAW) and Matt Hoy (AUS) for a spot into the semis.
Two-time World Champion Damian Hardmann (AUS) showed no signs of slowing down and picked up his competitive act right up with a dominant show on the lefts of Santa Barbara to take a first win over Derek Ho (HAW).
“I don’t think I’ve surfed a man-on-man heat in a jersey for about eighteen years so I was a bit worried,” Hardman said. “You don’t know if you’ve still got it or if you’ll fall apart and you’re doing it in front of your mates you’ve traveled with over the years so there’s a bit of pressure. Throughout your career you seem to draw some people a lot and Derek is one of them, we had great heats anywhere from Pipe to Bells and more places, it was great to have another one.”
Portuguese wildcard Joao Alexandre posted the event’s first upset in defeating Dave Macaulay(AUS) with aggressive forehand surfing on the good lefts as well.
But the opening day’s biggest performance came from “rookie” Jake Paterson (AUS), the youngest competitor in the draw, with an amazing display in Heat 6. The two-time QS champion and perennial Championship Tour threat, now a coach for some of the world’s best surfers, ripped the lefts to pieces on his backhand and posted the event’s first excellent score of 8.83.
“It’s tough when you teach kids for a leaving and you have to go out there and stick to your gameplan,” Paterson stated. “But this time it worked perfectly, I had a good start, took a wave with priority and then set away and got a couple good scores under Fabio (Gouveia)’s priority. I love this event because pretty much half the field are riding their own equipment. It’s a very friendly vibe, everyone’s good friends.”
In the Grand Masters (Over 55), Rob Bain (AUS) dominated the opening day in which a few surfers went out there twice. Bain did surf twice and posted two big wins, over the defending Grand Masters Champion Iain Buchanan (NZL) first and then compatriot Glen Winton (AUS). In the latter matchup, Bain claimed two 7+ waves for his incredible forehand attack of the wedgy lefts of Santa Barbara.
“I was a little bit nervous before my first heat,” Bain said. “We’re all catching up with each other, we all have so many stories, but we also all want to do well here! This wave moves a lot and the ocean is sometimes a bit random so I was just happy to get a few. Ratso and I competed together a while back and I know how a formidable competitor he is so even with priority I didn’t want to let him out of my sight.”
“I just love watching all the guys surf and recognize everyone’s styles, I couldn’t help but check out Glen’s waves in out heat this afternoon,” he continued. “We were in the first-ever final here in Portugal in 1989, I came first and he was second. It’s just nice after all these years gone by to surf again with these guys.”
The other form surfers this afternoon was Simon Anderson (AUS) who also claimed two heat wins over Hawaiians Michael Ho and Buzzy Kerbox.
Competitors will be back Wednesday for a 10:45 a.m call for the women’s Masters event only, while the men will come in later at 1 p.m to potentially resume the Masters and/or Grand Masters draws.
Watch the event LIVE via wsl.tv/azores18.
The Azores Masters & Grand Masters Pro are scheduled from September 18 – 23, 2018 at PRAIA DE SANTA BARBARA, Sao Miguel – Azores Islands. For all results, photos, video highlights and press releases, log on to worldsurfleague.com.
The Azores Masters & Grand Masters Pro are organized by DAAZ Eventos with the support of the following event partners: Azores Airlines, Governo Regional dos Acores, Turismo dos Açores, Câmara Municipal da Ribeira Grande, SEAT , MEO, MagicSeaWeed amongst others.
UPCOMING AZORES AIRLINES WORLD WOMEN’S MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 MATCHUPS:
Heat 1: Layne Beachley (AUS) vs. Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
Heat 2: Pam Burridge (AUS) vs. Pauline Menczer (AUS)
Heat 3: Rochelle Ballard (HAW) vs. Jodie Cooper (AUS)
Heat 4: Pauline Menczer (HAW) vs. Frieda Zamba (USA)
Heat 5: Layne Beachley (AUS) vs. Jodie Cooper (AUS)
Heat 6: Pam Burridge (AUS) vs. Frieda Zamba (USA)
REMAINING AZORES AIRLINES WORLD GRAND MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 MATCHUPS:
Heat 7: Iain Buchanan (NZL) vs. Glen Winton (AUS)
Heat 8: Michael Ho (HAW) vs. Buzzy Kerbox (HAW)
Heat 9: Cheyne Horan (AUS) vs. Terry Richardson (AUS)
AZORES AIRLINES WORLD GRAND MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Rob Bain (AUS) 12.33 def. Iain Buchanan (NZL) 7.64
Heat 2: Simon Anderson (AUS) 10.43 def. Michael Ho (HAW) 9.83
Heat 3: Cheyne Horan (AUS) 11.26 def. Hans Hedemann (HAW) 10.37
Heat 4: Rob Bain (AUS) 14.27 def. Glen Winton (AUS) 9.43
Heat 5: Simon Anderson (AUS) 9.06 def. Buzzy Kerbox (HAW) 8.90
Heat 6: Hans Hedemann (HAW) 12.74 def. Terry Richardson (AUS) 12.07
REMAINING AZORES AIRLINES WORLD MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 MATCHUPS:
Heat 7: Sunny Garcia (HAW) vs. Dave Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 8: Gary Elkerton (AUS) vs. Shane Besehen (HAW)
Heat 9: Damien Hardman (AUS) vs. Fabio Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 10: Sunny Garcia (HAW) vs. Joao Alexandre (PRT)
Heat 11: Gary Elkerton (AUS) vs. Matt Hoy (AUS)
Heat 12: Damien Hardman (AUS) vs. Jake Paterson (AUS)
Heat 13: Luke Egan (AUS) vs. Dave Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 14: Tom Curren (USA) vs. Shane Beschen (HAW)
Heat 15: Derek Ho (HAW) vs. Fabio Gouveia
Heat 16: Luke Egan (AUS) vs. Joao Alexandre (PRT)
Heat 17: Tom Curren (USA) vs. Matt Hoy (AUS)
Heat 18: Derek Ho (HAW) vs. Jake Paterson (AUS)
AZORES AIRLINES WORLD MASTERS CHAMPIONSHIP ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Luke Egan (AUS) 12.10 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW) 11.53
Heat 2: Tom Curren (USA) 6.30 def. Gary Elkerton (AUS) 0.00
Heat 3: Damien Hardman (AUS) 11.83 def. Derek Ho (HAW) 8.70
Heat 4: Joao Alexandre (PRT) 10.16 def. Dave Macaulay (AUS) 8.93
Heat 5: Shane Beschen (HAW) 11.83 def. Matt Hoy (AUS) 7.67
Heat 6: Jake Paterson (AUS) 14.70 def. Fabio Gouveia (BRA) 4.13