Spencer Rips Straight Into Wave Of Success

Newcastle Herald

Thursday March 15, 2007

Renee Valentine - Breaking news

MICHAEL Spencer could not have asked for a better opening heat of the year two good scoring waves early in a 20-minute period in which his opponents struggled to find a decent ride.

The hooter had barely gone to signal the start of the round-five heat at Merewether Beach yesterday when the Lake Munmorah natural-footer was up and riding a solid right-hander peeling off the point.

Spencer floated across the top of the breaking wave to the delight of his home crowd before executing a couple of cutbacks to earn himself a first-up score of 6.17 points out of a possible 10.

Instead of heading back out to the point where the other three surfers in his four-man heat were stalking each other for waves, the 20-year-old sat further north along the beach.

It was a move that paid off almost straight away, when Spencer produced an eight-point ride to set up a heat victory and progress to the sixth round.

He recorded a two-wave score of 14.17 points for a convincing win over second-placed fellow Australian Ryan Campbell (8.56 points) and Americans Justin McBride (4.90) and Wyatt Taubman (2.66).

"I only got waves in the first half of the heat, so it was good to get that done then I could kind of cruise for a bit and look for a better wave," Spencer said.

"I'm happy to get a good first heat out of the way, my first one for the year."

Spencer rose to prominence at Surfest three years ago when as a 17-year-old he went on a giant-killing spree, starting in the opening round and surfing 10 times before bowing out in the round before the quarter-finals.

He finished seventh on the Australasian Pro Junior tour in 2005 then tackled the World Qualifying Series for the first time last year, finishing ranked 139th in the world.

"Top 50 this year is definitely my goal, and anything better is a bonus," Spencer said.

He has drawn Hawaiian Evan Valiere, Japan's Naoto Takanashi and Spain's Hodei Collazo in his sixth-round heat this morning.

Travis Lynch survived his fifth heat of the week yesterday to book a round-six meeting with Tahitian Alain Riou and fellow Australians Shaun Gossmann and Josh Dowthwaite. Boat Harbour's Nick Coghlan was a round-five casualty.

Another Merewether lad, Matt Hoy, enters Surfest's main event as a wildcard today.

The contest's top seeds, including World Championship Tour ratings leader Mick Fanning, will be first sighted tomorrow.

© 2007 Newcastle Herald

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