HUNTINGTON BEACH, California (Sunday, April 12, 2009) The second stop on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach presented by Snickers, has completed the opening round of men's competition and saw Taylor Knox (Carlsbad, CA), 38, lead the charge on the American front.
The event has seen the top 17 female surfers tackle the famed break of Bells over the past few days and men's competition is expected to recommence tomorrow with a promising swell forecast on the horizon.
Knox defeated Australian talent Phillip MacDonald (Cronulla, AUS), 29, by utilizing his patented forehand power-gouges at the iconic right-hand point-break to earn an impressive heat total of 15.84 out of 20 to advance directly into Round 2. The seasoned veteran is now embarking on his 16th year on the ASP Dream Tour and still has a passion to compete at the world's longest running surf contest.
"I grew up watching the Curren and Occy heat my whole childhood until the VHS tape broke and I had to go buy a new one," Knox said. "For me, to walk down these stairs is a pretty magical experience."
Knox took advantage of the new format adopted for this year's Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach by winning his elimination, man-on-man Round 1 heat, versus the three-man Round 1 where the winner advances into Round 3 and second and third place move to Round 2. The new format allows event organizers to utilize ideal swell windows for optimal conditions, but it also eliminates second chances for surfers, as they are instantly eliminated from competition if they do not advance from Round 1.
"It is different – a lot of guys were talking about it and they knew it was coming but they were still thrown for a little loop when they got here," Knox said. "Everyone is adjusting to it and now we have the luxury of waiting for some cleaner swell, that is always a good thing."
Other American surfers Nathaniel Curran (Oxnard, CA), 24, Dane Reynolds (Ventura, CA), 23, and Patrick Gudauskas (San Clemente, CA), 23, who surfed in his maiden ASP World Tour event when he entered the Rip Curl Pro as an alternate, were unable to escape Round 1 and were eliminated from competition.
The top seeds from mainland America including nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (Cocoa Beach, FL), 37, C.J. Hobgood (Satellite Beach, FL), 29, brother Damien Hobgood (Melbourne, FL), 29, Bobby Martinez (Santa Barbara, CA), 26, Chris Ward (San Clemente, CA), 30, Timmy Reyes (Huntington Beach, CA), 26, are all seeded directly in to Round 2 and will hit the water when the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach is back in action.
The Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach pres. by Snickers will be webcast LIVE via www.live.ripcurl.com.