Sea of umbrellas: Rain did nothing to deter the fans who crowded onto Manly Beach. Photo: Dean Sewell
Sydney's gardeners and their water tanks received the first solid drenching in weeks but the surfers at Manly who were the ones singing in the rain.
The Hurley Australian Open of Surfing was in danger of turning into a nine-day waveless fizzer but on Sunday a small swell appeared at dawn and the southerly wind bringing the rain brought the first acceptable waves of the contest.
The rest of Sydney might have spent Sunday afternoon at home watching the rain on the windows and sport on television but at least 15,000 people were at Manly to watch the finalists battle it out.
Winning smile: Australian Open of Surfing winner Adriano de Souza celebrates his win at Manly yesterday by fans and security. Photo: Dean Sewell
The beach became a sea of umbrellas as nearly seven millimetres of rain fell across Sydney during the morning and early afternoon. But that might have been the best of it, with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting clearing showers on Monday and the return of sunny weather by Thursday.
At the surfing, 27-year-old Brazilian Adriano de Souza who lives in Manly and boasts a large cheer squad of ''Brazil nuts'' easily downed Sunshine Coast's Julian Wilson, 25, in metre-high waves. The Brazilian opened with a skittering ''floater'' on his first wave but was soon headed for the $25,000 first prize. Wilson desperately tried to land high scoring 360-degree aerials but a rising southerly kept preventing him from completing the manoeuvre.
The women finalists had the best of it. Hawaiians Carissa Moore and Alessa Quizon, competed in glassy waves held up by a gentle off-shore breeze. It was the best surf of the nine-day competition, and Moore, the women's world title holder, won the $8000 purse.
Manly has been the scene of many professional surfing contests. The Hurley Australian Open closely followed the US Open of Surfing held at California's Huntington Beach, with sponsors including the NSW government and Manly Council.
While the top seeded surfers made the final - 144 male competitors battled through largely waveless heats - the biggest surprise came in the Pro Junior Men final when 17-year Leonardo Fioravanti became the first Italian to place in an Australian surf competition. He came second to West Australian 16-year-old Jacob Willcox.
Adriano De Souza and Carissa Moore Crowned Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Champions
Adriano De Souza (BRA) and Carissa Moore (HAW), 2014 Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Champions. Pic ASP/Robertson
Association of Surfing Professionals: MANLY BEACH, NSW/AUS (Sunday, 16th February, 2014) - Adriano De Souza (Brazil) and Carissa Moore (Hawaii) have taken out the ASP 6-Star QS divisions at the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach today. The best waves of the event set the stage on the final day, with three foot (1.5 meter) runners rolling into the Manly shoreline that was packed with dedicated surf fans, braving the rain with umbrellas, towels and raincoats.
De Souza shut the door in the final in the first few minutes, nailing a pair of 8-point-rides that would stay in his scoreline until the Final siren sounded. De Souza put himself in the perfect position, put pressure on Wilson and most importantly when the waves came through he surfed fast and hard and with loads of flair.
"It feels amazing to be the first Brazilian to win the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing!" De Souza said. "I've got so much respect for Julian Wilson, he's number six in the world and the best guy in the event. I was lucky that he fell off a few times in the final. It's great to have the support from the Brazilian guys in the event and the fans on the beach. It's the perfect start to my year."
Wilson has had the spotlight on him from Day 1 of the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing, he's the number one seed, it's his sponsor's event and his surfing has been near-flawless. In the Final it all fell apart, De Souza got two quick scores and then a massive southerly wind squall came through, bringing wind and heavy rain. Wilson never gave up, knowing he had to go big he attempted multiple big aerials, but wasn't able to land them.
"I fell a few times out there and I couldn't shake it off," Wilson said. "I was so frustrated. I just couldn't build any momentum and I just felt like I was rushing. There's a lot of positives to take out of the event - I had a really fun week in challenging conditions, I had some good heats and I was only one spot from the win. If I came here and lost early it wouldn't have done me any good, but I'll take a lot of confidence into the rest of the year."
Moore, reigning ASP Women's World Champion was teetering in second position in the mid-way point of the Final, needing a good score to steal first place from countrywoman Alessa Quizon (HAW). A super clean right hander popped up and Moore made her move, and executed an ultra stylish rail-grab floater and then built up speed and unloaded a beautiful, yet explosive finishing turn. The wave scored a 9.43 (out of a possible 10), and from there the final was done.
"I didn't come here expecting to win," Moore said. "It's been a while since I had a jersey on and it was good to get back into it, then this morning I started getting nervous and I just had to tell myself to relax and have fun. The conditions really smoothed out and the waves were super fun today. I got that 9.43 in the Final and it was such a nice wave, but I didn't expect to get that score. I did a speed floater and then tried to push the last turn as hard as I could and I'm just stoked that I popped back up after it."
Quizon is having a breakthrough year, next month she will make her debut as one of the Top 17 surfers on the ASP Women's World Championship and today she made the Final of an ASP 6-Star QS event for the first time. Quizon is in great form posting two scores in the 7-point-range in the Final, but unfortunately for her she just ran into a rampaging Carissa Moore and had to settle for second.
"I'm super happy to have had a final against Carissa (Moore)," Quizon said. "We grew up surfing with each other and have surfed against each other our whole childhood. I'm so happy for her, and I'm happy that I made it this far. I feel like I'm building momentum and I'm looking forward to the first WCT event at Snapper. I'm being positive and focused, but I'm also having fun. Hawaiian girls rip!"
HURLEY AUSTRALIAN OPEN OF SURFING RESULTS:
FINAL: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 17.20 def. Julian Wilson (AUS)
SF 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.00 def. Tomas Hermes (BRA) 14.33
SF 2: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 17.40 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 10.53
QF 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 13.63 def. Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 13.03
QF 2: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 13.33 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.17
QF 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 15.77 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 14.33
QF 4: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 16.53 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 16.16
FINAL: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.10 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 15.80
SF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 9.94 def. Maud Le Car (FRA) 9.56
SF 2: Alessa Quizon (HAW) 14.90 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.60
QF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.33 def. Leila Hurst (HAW) 5.10
QF 2: Maud Le Car (FRA) 12.70 def. Georgia Fish (AUS) 12.67
QF 3: Alessa Quizon (HAW) 15.50 def. Nage Melamed (HAW) 12.60
QF 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) 17.90 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 12.00
About Hurley Australian Open of Surfing 2014
The Hurley Australian Open of Surfing 2014 is a nine-day event (Feb 8th-16th) which will showcase the world’s best surfers, skateboarders, music and art at iconic Manly Beach, Sydney. Owned and produced by IMG Australia, the global youth and sporting event is expected to attract an audience of in excess of 175,000 people.
Inspired by the US Open of Surfing held in Huntington Beach, California, the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing boasts a line up of the top-rated 6-star men's and women's ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) World Qualifying Tour surf talent, men’s and women's world junior star-athletes, and a world-class line-up of skateboarding talent.
The Channel [V] stage is back again this year also for two epic days of live music headlined by Aussie talents Birds of Tokyo and supported by ARIA urban award winner Illy, chart-topper The Presets and Melbournian rock outfit Delta Riggs.
Title Sponsor Hurley are joined this year by partners Nike SB and the NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, and supported by Manly Council
Upcoming ASP World Tour Events:
Feb 10 - 16 - Hurley Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach (Men's & Women's ASP 6-Star rated Qualifying Series events)
Feb 17 - 23 - Burton Toyota Pro, Hunter Ports Women's Classic at Newcastle's Surfest (Men's & Women's ASP 6-Star rated Qualifying Series events)
Feb 26 - ASP World Surfing Awards at the Gold Coast Arts Centre
March 1 - 12 - Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast (Men's & Women's ASP World Championship Tour)
April 2 - 13 - Drug Aware Margaret River Pro (Men's & Women's ASP World Championship Tour)
April 16 - 27 - Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (Men's & Women's ASP World Championship Tour)