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January 28, 2005

As of this morning there were still 20 men in the game
and 10 in the other classes. This is because there are so many men that
we get a fourth round of competition to pair the numbers down to the finals
with 5. There were two heats of 10 men in reverse seed based on prelims.
In the first heat, Matt Cooke from England had some awesome rides and
scored in the 400’s, so did Eddie Hake from England. While they
were not in the top 10 in prelims, they broke into the top 10 in quarter
finals, having to sit and watch the second heat of 10 and hope that their
scores held up against them. In the second heat, starting with Jay Kincaid
seeded 10th after prelims, the game heated up quickly. Jay’s first
ride was pretty good, but then the scores jumped up quickly. Anthony Yapp
from Australia had the highest score after the first runs, with me in
second. We got three rides, and the best two counted. Jay’s second
ride was awesome, scoring 500+ points and was clearly leading the heat
until my second ride. My second ride was a little lower than Jay’s
but my first ride was better so I was leading after two rides. Billy Harris
who was second after prelims, and was on the bubble after two rides, didn’t
show the strain of the pressure in his face, still showing an air of confidence
as he bantered with the crowd and judges. Tobias Bersch, who was third
after prelims, had the look of a tiger in his face during his rides and
was hucking like there was no tomorrow. Tobias was two boaters before
me so I was in the water and got to watch him from my boat. His rides
consisted of all of the cartwheel moves, blunts, and air loop, and back
loop. His verticality and energy were impressive, and his All-Star looked
really good watching him. It gave me extra confidence to see just how
good the All-Star looked in the wave/hole. Of all of the dumb things to
do for the world championships, I accidentally brought an XL tunneled
spray skirt. I ended up with it after outdoor retailer from Mountain Surf,
but never checked the size. I wear a dry deck 99% of the time, but brought
it because it is so hot here that I didn’t want to have gaskets
in my top. Well, I use both tunnels on my Lotus shorty to try to hold
the skirt up, but on my third run, the tunnel flipped inside my boat and
I had about ¼ of a boat full by the last 15 seconds of my ride.
I tried to ignore it but my last score was the lowest of the three. I
am borrowing a medium skirt from Dustin Urban for semi-finals. The bummer
for the USA was that there were 5 Americans in the second heat, and only
two of them didn’t make the cut, Jimmy Blakeney and Javid Grubbs.
Both had sweet looking rides, but missed key moves when they needed them.
Replacing them were two British paddlers from the first heat. England
should be psyched with their accomplishment today. The only British paddler
to miss the cut today was Richard Grimes, who was fully capable but couldn’t
keep himself in the hole. After all is said and done today the top 4 paddlers

Jay Kincaid


Anthony Yapp

Tobias Bersch

Tobias and I were the only ones who stayed in
the top 4 after the first two rounds, but Jay has a new look after this
round with two of the three rides being quite good and his new routine
looks terrific. Tobias looks like he can maintain solid rides with his
plan. Anthony Yapp has much higher scoring rides in him yet, but hasn’t
put them together yet. I am still operating at about 50% of my potential
scores, but only time will tell if I can put it all together when it counts.
Billy Harris dropped to 8th place in this round, but he lives for another
day and don’t count him out, he’ll be back in the top 5, I
would guess after semi-finals.

🙂 EJ

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