DURBAN, South Africa (Sunday, 1 July, 2007) – Despite the gale force winds of 25- 35 knots that battered the Durban beachfront, during day three of the Mr Price Pro six star ASP World Qualifying series event, eight resilient competitors advanced through the men’s trials, earning slots into the main event.

Leading the charge was powerful Bluff surfer Shane Thorne, who set the precedent in the second heat of the day, with two excellent scoring rides, an 8.0 and 7.67 (both out of a possible ten), to advance into round two.

Performing a series of trade mark turns, as well as a seriously speedy floater in the 0.5 meter waves, the former South African champion just managed to pip his younger rival Shaun Dennis (Umhlanga), winning the heat by less than a point.

“It was great to surf the trials in a man on man format, I had fun and I`m looking forward to the event. I think it definitely comes down to experience, that`s a major factor in these small waves. Ideally, I prefer anything over one meter, but through doing so many contests I`ve had to get used to small waves. I think it also comes down to your equipment and how fit you are,” explained Thorne.

South Coast powerhouse and veteran ASP Africa campaigner Gary Van Wieringen (Scottburgh), impressed all with his committed surfing, posting the highest combined heat score of the day 15.83 (out of a possible 20.00), to advance through two rounds and into the main event.

After a confident win in round one, Van Wieringen waited patiently for the bigger set waves, going to town with powerful front side carves and big, solid hacks to score an excellent 8.0 (out of 10.0) off his opening ride. Following up with a good 7.83 (out of a possible ten), the Scottburgh local left his opponent Mike Varikas (Durban) on the back foot for the rest of the heat, needing a perfect ten to catch up.

“I set a goal for myself to make it into the main event, and I`ve just done that, so I`m very pleased. Mr Price have been supporting me, so I want to support them by getting as much coverage as I can and I cant wait to surf in the main event,” said Van Wieringen who recently finished fourth in the South African Championships.

Fellow Red Team rider Lyle Botcher (Durban) was another standout, posting the third of the day’s excellent 8.0 point rides (out of ten), to defeat Cape Town surfers Dagan Gold, Micheal February, and Jaco Steyn.

Following up with another committed performance in heat two, the lanky New Pier local defeated Hilton Lawrence (Durban) advancing into the main event.

“I don`t mind having to surf the trials. It`s great that Mr Price is giving the wildcards to the younger surfers, who deserve to have it more than I do. I`m not really that interested in competing on the international WQS but it’s always nice to advance in my sponsors’ event,” Botcher said.

Other surfers to advance were Ryan Bisset (Durban), who overcame his twin brother Lee Bisset in their 25 minute match-up which was characterized by backhand snaps and smooth floaters. Mathew Kruger (Queensburgh) took one off Scott Venter (Bluff), defeating the stocky free fighter by less than a point; while Dane Logie (Durban) and Steve Friedman (Umhlanga) battled it out with low scoring rides, with Logie emerge as the overall heat winner.

The only Frenchman in the event Marc Lacomare put an end to Red Team rider Brad Mommsen’s (Berea) hopes, with an impressive repertoire of punchy backhand manoeuvres; while pro Junior surfer Kyle Beach (Durban) took a similar approach against Dagan Gold (Cape Town), defeating the Capetonian 10.84 to 6.67.

All eight surfers will feature in tomorrow’s (Monday’s) round of 192, the first round of the six star ASP World Qualifying Series Mr Price Pro, which runs until Sunday 8 July.

The Mr Price Pro forms part of the Durban Beach Festival and is being broadcast live on the webcast at www.mrpricepro.com.

An interview with Mr Price Pro Junior winner Klee Strachan

18-year old Klee Strachan took out the Mr Pice Pro Junior in fine form yesterday, catching the most waves in the heat and rising above a strong contingent of our country``s top juniors to claim the R4000 cheque and the honour of being seeded directly into the Round of 144 in the main event later this week. Craig Ritchie caught up with the powerful natural footer for a quick chat after his win.

Lungani Memani
Age: 18
From: Port Alfred

Tammy Lee Smith
Age: 21
From: Chakas Rock, Balitto

Greg Emslie
Age: 31
From: East London, South Africa

Gary van Wieringen
Age: 33
From: Durban

Stephen Jake Friedman
Age: 21
From: Umhlanga, Durban

Tasha Mentasti
Age: 26
From: Durban North