Morrison eliminates Slater at Rip Curl Pro Search Chile

ARICA, Chile (Tuesday, June 26, 2007) –Australia’s Dean Morrison dazzled in his Round 4 heat against Kelly Slater (USA) to eliminate the 8X Foster’s ASP World Champion from the Rip Curl Pro Search Chile today.

Slater was on the first plane out of Arica after earning his second equal 9th place finish of the season. Morrison walked away with the highest two-wave heat total of the event – 18.83 out of 20.00 – and a quarterfinal berth.

“Every time you come up against Kelly, it’s easy to play mind games with yourself,” Morrison said. “Luckily enough, I was able to stick to my game plan and not worry about him. That’s what I was able to do in that heat and I came out on top.”

Morrison’s victory over Slater today was his first since 2003 when he beat Slater on the Gold Coast of Australia and went on to win the contest.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve beat Kelly so I’m just stoked I got to surf against him and have a good heat,” Morrison said. “I’m really proud of it.”

Morrison and Slater went wave for wave, before Morrison made it out of an almost impossible looking barrel to post a perfect 10.00 – the second of the event.

“It stood up nice,” Morrison said. “It had a nice line on it and I knew it was going to taper off and I was able just to hang in there and keep that line and it let me out. It’s the second 10-point ride I’ve ever had so it means a lot.”

Slater fought back until the final seconds but couldn’t find a wave offering the 9.37 scoring potential he needed.

“Dean’s 10.00 looked kind of like a closeout to me,” Slater said. “There was a little too much bend on the end of it, but obviously it held open and there you have it. I probably got the second best wave and he got the third. I was going to need the second and third to catch him and just didn’t quite have it.”

The reigning world champion is currently sitting 6th on the Foster’s ASP World Tour ratings.

“At this point, it’s not feeling like a World Title year for me so far,” Slater said. “To lose out here, that’s the fourth event that Mick has bettered me in and it’s going to be really hard to catch him. If he stays somewhat consistent at all, he is going to be hard to catch this year. If he were to better me in just two more events this year, I don’t think I could catch him. That’s a fact of life and that’s the reality of where we’re at right now.”
Current ratings leader Mick Fanning (AUS) advanced over Chris Ward (USA) in Round 4 and will now meet Bobby Martinez (USA) in Quarterfinal 2. Fanning, who was interviewed before Slater and current World No. 4 Joel Parkinson (AUS) were eliminated later in the day, is well on his way increasing his ratings lead. He remains humble.

“There are still guys who are still close,” Fanning said. “Joel’s still there and Andy’s still there, Kelly’s got a heat right now and Damien’s got a heat coming up, so if those guys keep getting through, I want to keep getting through with them. I’m just trying to get a better result.”

Joel Parkinson was eliminated by Andy Irons in Quarterfinal 1. Competition was called off after Quarterfinal 1 due to unfavorable wind conditions. Irons and Damien Hobgood (USA), rated 7th and 3rd in the world respectively, are still in Rip Curl Pro Search Chile contention. Irons will finish with an equal 3rd or better result.

Twin brothers CJ and Damien Hobgood are through to the Quarterfinals and will meet each other in the Semifinal 2 should they win their heats when competition resumes. Damien, who won the last event on the Foster’s ASP World Tour in Tahiti, indicated that he is less worried about matching his brother’s world title success (CJ was ASP World Champion in 2001) and more focused on winning events.

“I just like to win,” Hobgood said. “That globe trophy that Rip Curl gives out is pretty sweet and I’m just trying to go for that.”

Damien will meet wildcard Bruno Santos (BRA) in Quarterfinal 4. Santos eliminated 2006 Rip Curl Pro Search runner-up Taylor Knox (USA) today.

“I’m so lucky because I fell three times in my last heat and I still made it – I’ve had a lot of good luck this contest,” Santos said. “The heat before mine had so many waves but me and Taylor waited so long for waves; there were not many sets in our heat, but I’m stoked I made it.”

Swellnet.com.au are forecasting easing swell for tomorrow, Wednesday, June 27, 2007, with an increase expected on Thursday. Six heats of the Rip Curl Pro Search Chile remain and another call on competition status will be made tomorrow at 7am.

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