Event: O’Neill Deep Blue Open
Dates: 9th – 15th June 2003
Location: Republic of the Maldives – North Malé Atoll
Rating: 5-star Prime World Qualifying Series Event
Prize Purse: US$100,000

Australia’s Trent Munro today topped off his sensational week in the Maldives by winning the 3rd O’Neill Deep Blue Open pocketing 2200 WQS tour points and banking a healthy US$12,000 cheque in the process. The final was a heavily weighted Brazilian affair with the exceptional talents of Paulo Moura, Raoni Monteiro and Rodrigo Dornelles occupying three of the four final berths. However the South Americans seemed powerless to halt the progress of natural footer from Scott’s Head in NSW as a focussed Munro quickly sewed up the 35-minute final to secure his 3rd ever WQS career victory. The Brazilians were left to settle for runner up positions with Moura taking second and Monteiro and Dornelles taking third and fourth respectively.

And the winner is...

The US$100,000 World Qualifying Series event (WQS) commenced with the quarterfinals this morning. After a short break the semi-finals hit the water before climaxing with the grand finale late afternoon. Despite the left-hander of Lohi’s failing to attract the perfect turquoise walls that had been present earlier in the contest the high performance wave continued to host highly rippable 1.5-meter conditions for the culmination of the 2003 event.

Under an oppressive tropical sun and in front of a huge crowd the 35-minute hunt for Deep Blue Open glory began. Trent Munro, no stranger to Maldives finals after his third place performance in 2002, made his intentions clear from the very start. Pulling into a long walling set wave he proceeded to work it all the way down the line, vertically hooking up under the crumbling lip in rapid succession, before finishing in fine style with a modest aerial on the inside section to collect a 8.67 score. Backed up with two more high scorers, an 8.3 and a 8.1, Trent’s solid lead left his competitors anxiously scratching for an unattainable combination of big rides as the minutes slipped away.


Showered with beer an ecstatic Munro finally made it back to shore after being mobbed by his Australian supporters who had congregated in a flotilla of zodiac boats on the shoulder of the Lohi’s reef.

“That just feels great,” said Trent. “It’s been a long time since I have had a win! Last year I got third so this year I was really determined to win it. I just can’t explain how good it is! When your surfing at this level anyone can win. It was a tight heat but luck seemed to be on my side. I had no strategy. I just wanted to come here and enjoy myself and that’s what I have done. After 5 months out of the water because of my knee injury it’s good to be back on form and win! It’s the best warm up for the Japanese WCT and a real confidence boost!” He added.

Second place Paulo Moura, who displayed devastating form throughout the contest, was powerless to respond to Munro’s onslaught in the final. Starting out his quest for glory with a solid wave and backing it up with another ride in quick succession Moura looked every bit the champion as he repeatedly slammed the lip. Unfortunately he was unable to capitalise on his weighty openers and reluctantly settled for the second spot.

“I’m stoked to have made the final.” Said Moura. “The waves for the final were difficult but Trent surfed them really well getting those two big 8 scores, it was difficult after that to remain focussed knowing that his scores were so big. I would obviously liked to have won but my second is good and gives me motivation for the next contest. It was cool to surf with the other Brazilians guys, it was a nice friendly final and it’s been an amazing contest. Maybe next year I’ll go one better.” He added.

Raoni Monteiro took the third spot from Rodrigo Dornelles in his first ever WQS final. The young Brazilian, who earlier in the week posted the only 10-point ride in the history of the Deep Blue, traded hits with Dornelles and Moura as they launched an assault on Munro’s lead. But it was not to be and Monteiro eventually settled for third place, US$4,000 and 1606 WQS tour points.

“It was a good final, I’m so happy and so stoked with my result!” Said a glowing Raoni. “It’s my first ever final on the WQS tour so that’s good for me. It was hard out there because I was so tired but really good to be in a final with three other Brazilians. I thought one of us would win but Trent Munro was surfing so well so he deserved the win. I have some great memories from the contest. My 10-point ride yesterday was one of the highlights of my trip to the Maldives. I’ll never forget that wave it was so perfect from start to finish!”


Rodrigo Dornelles, runner up in the first Deep Blue Open contest in 2001, was unable to go one better in his second Maldives final. The brilliance that had seen him climb through the heats over the week’s competition appeared to be wavering during final 35 minutes. Out of position and facing the monumental task of toppling Trent’s colossal lead, Dornelles frustration began to show through as he fell on a few good scoring waves and struggled to make an impact on the proceedings. Dornelles settled for fourth place, US$3000 and 1474 WQS tour points.


As champagne showered down on the victorious Trent Munro, O’Neill Europe’s Bernhard Ritzer thanked all involved for making the Deep Blue Open the most successful WQS event on the tour The weeklong contest again saw some excellent surfing unfold in prime conditions. Contest director Matt Wilson summed up the 3rd O’Neill Deep Blue Open as the freesurf sessions took to the water.  “In short we’ve had unbelievable waves and seen some unbelievable surfing! It’s been an incredible event again.” Said Matt. “The waves have peen pretty much flawless and the weather has been amazing. The surfers couldn’t ask for anymore and we couldn’t have asked for any more as organisers. There have been so many highlights especially in the earlier heats. Let’s hope we return in 2004 for more of the same!” he stated before joining the rest of the ASP event officials in the lineup.
The O’Neill Deep Blue Open today entered the penultimate stages of the competition finishing the day’s proceedings knocking on the door of the quarterfinals. Proceedings were delayed first thing this morning as the hulhangu, otherwise known as the South West Monsoon, shed another payload of torrential rain and unleashed gale force winds on the islands. By midmorning it had vanished and the ASP Australia event officials made the call for the event to commence. 

Lohi’s, the focus wave of the contest so far, was inconsistent, however, it still managed to dish up the occasional, perfect, doodle book waves witnessed in the earlier stages of the contest.

Of the 40 surfers that started the day with sights set on the quarters only 16 would make it through. The majority bowing out of the 2003 event by nightfall. With everything to play for the stops were pulled out and day 5 of the Maldives contest recorded a barrage of sharply contested high scoring heats.

O’Neill team rider Jarrad Howse from Australia was the first to snatch a spot in the quarters. The huge scoring heat set the precedent for the remaining 7 heats to follow with Howse, Luke Hitchings (Aus) and Victor Ribas (Brz) taking turns to lead the heat as the scores were exchanged. In the final five minutes Howse racked up a high scoring 8 to slip into first place with Victor Ribas taking second.

“Oh it’s so good to make it through!” said Howse. “It’s my first quarters in a year so I’m really happy. I just waited and only caught two waves but they were both high scorers so I guess I was lucky. It was kind of like Australia versus Brazil out there, it’s a bummer that Luke (Hitchings) didn’t make it. The waves are inconsistent and it gives you almost too much time to think. Sometimes a few negative thoughts slip into your head so you have to stay focussed, regroup and wait for that next set.” he added.






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