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Lovett Catches the Title Wave With Trestles Win

The Australian surfer captures his first WCT championship at the San Clemente event.

September 09, 2003|Dan Arritt | Times Staff Writer

Richie Lovett didn't mind looking forward to getting the tab Monday night.

Lovett, a 31-year-old from New South Wales, Australia, won the Boost Mobile Pro at Lower Trestles in San Clemente in his first final in eight years on the World Championship Tour.

Lovett defeated fellow Australian Taj Burrow, 16.07-14.20, in the two-man final, retaking the lead halfway through the 35-minute heat and extending the margin in the final minute.

"I've been trying for eight years now to do this," said Lovett, who came into the event ranked 30th on the WCT. "This is a dream day for me."

With two Australians in the final, it was Lovett who received the most support from a throng of countrymen who had planned a trip to Las Vegas after the contest. Supporters carried Lovett from the water to the victory stand.

"Don't drop him, we might need him tonight," one said.

The victory not only ended a winless streak and earned Lovett $30,000, it helped erase painful memories of last year's event at Lower Trestles, when he cut himself on one of his fins and received nine stitches.

"I got Trestles back for that," he said.

Burrow's light-footed attack suited him well for the final, which was held in inconsistent two- to four-foot surf. Burrow is known to find speed when others are barely staying afloat, and his stylish aerial maneuvers are a huge asset in small conditions.

Burrow, 25, was impressive in his quarterfinal and semifinal victories earlier Monday. In his quarterfinal victory over Mick Fanning of Australia, both of his best-wave scores were better than Fanning's. He then came back to earn identical best-wave scores of 7.67 in the semifinals to post a 15.34-14.16 victory over Victor Ribas of Brazil.

Ribas, 31, knocked off former world champion Mark Occihilupo in Saturday's third round, advanced to the quarterfinals with a victory over Australia's Michael Lowe the same day and then reached the semifinals with a victory Monday morning over Bruce Irons of Hawaii.

Lovett defeated local favorite Taylor Knox of Carlsbad in the semifinals, 16.17-12.83, sending many of Knox's followers to the parking lot.

In the quarterfinals, Lovett moved past fellow Australian Joel Parkinson with about two minutes left in their heat. Lovett also posted third-round victories over Shea Lopez of Florida, winner of last month's U.S. Open of Surfing, and Australian Dean Morrison in the round of 16.

Knox, 32, who was born in Thousand Oaks, knocked off former world champion Kelly Slater of Florida in the quarterfinals. Knox earned a wave score of 9.0 with about seven minutes remaining in his heat to move ahead of Slater for good.

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