Picon Advances through to Round 3 of Billabong Pipeline Masters in Superb Form

Michael Picon got his Billabong Pipeline Masters campaign underway in superb form advancing through two rounds on the first day of competition after eliminating Manoa Drollet and Josh Kerr.

Michael Picon (Capbreton, FRA), 30.  Picture :ASP/CI/Scholtz via Getty ImagesMichael Picon (Capbreton, FRA), 30, ranked No. 39 on the ASP World Tour ratings before the final event. He started off his run with an average 10.50 point result in Round 1 to oust Tahitian wildcard Manoa Drollet (Tahiti, PYF) before dominating fellow ASP Top 45 member Josh Kerr (Gold Coast, AUS) in Round 2 with the day’s highest heat score, an impressive 19.76 point score (out of a possible 20), his best result ever in a heat at an event of the ASP World Tour.

“That was the best heat of my life,” Picon said. “I was just trying to build momentum and I feel like all of the training I’ve done is paying off. It’s great to have this heat at Pipeline and in Hawaii. Today was all about the rights. We all knew that. I was going for the right too. I figured I’d go for the death, whatever.”

The Capbreton resident, who is in his second consecutive year amongst the ASP Top 45, is chasing a third place or better in the Billabong Pipeline Masters to requalify for next year’s ASP World Tour. Using a smart and solid backhand tube-riding approach to secure his ticket for Round 3, Picon showed he was able to let the pressure go focusing on his heat.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” Picon said. “I’m just thinking about having a good heat and having a good contest here because it’s always been a dream for me to do well at Pipeline. I’m just really confident after that heat.”

With such an opening performance, Picon gave himself a serious confidence boost before getting on with his run in the final event of the 2009 ASP World Tour, knowing he will have to get through tough battles in the upcoming rounds of competition starting in Round 3.

Following Picon’s footsteps through to Round 2 of competition, Aritz Aranburu (Zarautz, EUK), 23, managed to avoid a direct elimination defeating 2010 ASP World Tour rookie and recent finalist at Sunset Beach Dusty Payne (Oahu, HAW) in Round 1 of competition.

“I knew that the better waves were going to be at backdoor,” Aranburu said. “I got one good left at Pipe and was trying to get a good backup score and was looking to backdoor. Luckily I got that one.”

Aranburu, is in second consecutive year on the ASP World Tour, secured a good 13.17 point score to advance and keep his requalification hopes alive. Coming to the final event ranked No. 36, Aranburu is looking to finish his year off with an excellent result and the Basque surfer will try and better his equal 9th place from last year, eliminating a solid local wildcard being an important first step for the man.

“I think that Pipeline is that hardest event for me,” Aranburu said. “Having a low seed, I have to start in the first round and you’re surfing against a guy who could potentially be in the final. It’s a really challenging round, so making it out of this round is great because it gives you momentum moving into the next round.”

Up next for Aranburu will be a serious battle with last year’s Billabong Pipeline Masters’ runner-up Chris Ward (California, USA) in Round 2 of competition.

Only European to lose on Day 1 of the prestigious event was Tiago Pires (Ericeira, PRT), 27, the Portuguese tiger going down to longtime Pipeline charger and former ASP Top 45 member Shane Dorian (Oahu, HAW) in Round 2 of competition.

Pires, who had missed the event in 2008 due to injury but had re-qualified through the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS), was not able to let his renowned tube-ride skills at the Banzai Pipeline and will be watching every heat from now on, his end-of-the-year fate depending on others’ results.

Leading the European contingent in the Billabong Pipeline Masters and waiting to start in the second part of Round 2, Michel Bourez (Tahiti, PYF), 23, and Tim Boal (Anglet, FRA), 26, will respectively face local charger Flynn Novak (Oahu, HAW) and ASP Top 45 member Dayyan Neve (New South Wales, AUS) when competition resumes.

The Billabong Pipeline Masters will be webcast LIVE via www.billabongpro.com and www.triplecrownofsurfing.com


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