McCarthy bags 5th place in the Turbo Pipeline Pro 09!

posted by Jonathan Oliff on 28th February 2009

Richards Bay bodyboarder, Mark McCarthy, 25, snagged 5th place in Pro division at this year's Pipeline Turbo Pro, held recently on the North Shore of Oahu, in Hawaii, at the world famous Banzai Pipeline.

The event kicked off the International Bodyboarding Association Men's World tour for 2009 and carried a Grand Slam status as well as double points towards the championship. Pipeline being one of the most respected and sort after wave locations in the world and did not disappoint, with solid conditions for the final two days of competition.

On Tuesday, the 24th of February, eight South Africans woke up to six to eight foot plus swells pounding the shallow Hawaiian reefs.

Over a thousand viewers joined the beach crowds, watching online via webcast, knowing that making it through to the final two days of this year's Pipeline Turbo Pro had not been an easy task.

"In some of the heats it was really difficult for the guys to get two scoring waves as you would have to wait for the sets that come in from the West and there would often only be one West set a heat. Even the experience guys were having a hard time in getting 2 scoring waves", commented McCarthy.

Known as the Saffa's because of the abbreviation to ZAF during competition, the crew had already left a lasting impression on the North Shore this winter. But now it was business time and the $20 000 pot in prize money was a significant driving force for the hungry watermen.

Unfortunately Durban's, Michael "Ratt" Ostler, 19, was first to leave in a closely battled heat in round five, this was an upset as Ratt, who had won convincingly in the prior heats, was looking unstoppable.

Next to forfeit his competition rights was Cape Town's, Jared Houston, 19, in a high scoring heat that slipped away from him in the final seconds. Jared did catch one of the biggest waves of the competition in this heat, a mind blowing ten foot plus bomb, but he was left stranded and unable to back up his one scoring wave.

Round seven opened the final day of competition on the 25th of February and conditions proved difficult for the Saffa camp as former world champion, Andre' Botha (KZN), Sacha Specker (CT), Darren Halse (KZN), and Adam Morley (Mossel Bay), were all eliminated out of the title race.

Specker, 25, did manage to continue in the Dropknee division and made his way to the final, where the Hawaiians managed to get ahead of him in the tough conditions and he had to settle for 3rd place overall. Hawaiian, Bud Miyamoto, won the division.

McCarthy continued into the Quarter finals, destroying anyone who came up against him with huge inverted airs and long "breathe taking" barrel rides at Backdoor, which is the shallower, often more unpredictable right hander at Pipeline.

Unfortunately, en route to the quarters, McCarthy defeated fellow South African, Pipeline competition veteran, Alistair Taylor (KZN). Taylor is world renowned for his Pipeline riding skills as well as his general disregard for his own safety and well being when tackling his favorite wave.

"Alistair was surfing better than ever and was in the lead for 80% of the heat. I was able to find the right wave and moved to 1st with 5mins left, but soon lost the lead to Ardiel Jimenez, from the Canaries Islands. Unluckily Alistair didn't land his Invert on his last ride. If he did he probably would have beaten me. So it was a really close heat", commented McCarthy.

In the Quarter Final Mark took a convincing lead in the early stages of the twenty-five minute heat, but was overtaken and had to fight to remain in contention and with good wave knowledge and wave selection he managed to push through to the Semi's.

His Semi Final was battled down to the last seconds, but unfortunately McCarthy could not progress through his more than qualified heat.

"Going up against Pierre Louis Costes, Dave Winchester and Dave Phillips. It must have been the slowest heats I have ever surfed, as no waves that came though in 15min. The waves eluded me and I was getting hassled out of waves too. So I was unable to find any rhythm and ended 3rd in the heat and out of the competition", said McCarthy.

However, this result does mean something as it is the best start he has had on the tour since his 2nd at the Shark Island event in 2007. His points push him up to 5th place overall on this year's tour.

"I am pleased with my result because I really wanted to get a good result at the first grand slam event. I am off to Australia on Monday, 2 March, and will take it from there. My next event will be Shark Island, in July, and that will also be a grand slam event", concluded McCarthy.

Australian bodyboarder Ryan Hardy won the event, with Frenchman, Louis Pierre-Costes in second, Brazilian Guilherme Tamega in third and and in fourth place was Dave Winchester also from Australia.

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