Surfing: Potter on course for trophy

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

MARTIN POTTER, the radical mover from Blyth in Northumberland, is finally finding fair weather in his 1993 season.

The Sydney-based Briton rose two places to third in the world championship standings after reaching the semi-finals of the Rip Curl Pro Landes, at Hossegor, France, yesterday. The 27-year-old also consolidated his lead in the competition for the Sud-Ouest Trophy for the best performer on the French leg of the world tour.

Potter reached the penultimate stage of the second tournament in the French tour with victories over Shane Dorian, of the United States, and the Australians Simon Law and Luke Egan, before losing by less than a point to Rob Machado, the young American. Machado subsequently lost in the final to Australia's twice former world champion, Damien Hardman, who recorded his 18th grand prix title in nine years on the world tour.

Potter, the 1989 world champion who learned his craft as a boy growing up in South Africa, continued his climb in the ratings after his first victory of the season in the Lacanau Pro a week ago. He began the French circuit in 16th position in the standings and is now 120 points behind the second-placed Gary Elkerton, of Australia, who trails Hardman by 292 points.

Potter began the season in Australia with some indifferent performances. His creative style and radical manoeuvres leave little margin for error but when he is in the right frame of mind, he can master all types of conditions.

The waves at Hossegor were reaching about two feet and were well-formed and conducive to exciting and tightly contested competition.

In the women's event, Australia's Kylie Webb, 21, won her first grand prix tournament by defeating her countrywoman, Vanessa Osborne, in the final. Webb's feat enabled her to regain the lead in the championship standings, ahead of another two Australians, Pauline Menczer and Neridah Falconer.

Menczer stands at the top of the order for the women's Sud-Ouest Trophy, which will be decided in a week. The third and final contest for the trophy, the Quiksilver Surfmasters, will be held at Biarritz, starting on Wednesday.

RIP CURL PRO LANDES (Hossegor, France, Aus unless stated): Men: Quarter-finals: M Potter (GB) bt L Egan 17.83-16.5; R Machado (US) bt M Barry 23.5-17.2; D Hardman bt M Parsons (US) 21.43-20.43; S Beschen (US) bt T Knox (US) 22.52-19.17. Semi-finals: Machado bt Potter 18.7-18.53; Hardman bt Beschen 20.43-20.0. Final: Hardman bt Machado 25.77-16.5. Leading standings: 1 Hardman 3,632pts; 2 G Elkerton 3,340; 3 Potter 3,220; 4 D Macaulay 3,136; 5 B Lynch 2,892; 6 Egan 2,852. Women: Quarter-finals: V Osborne bt K Wooldridge 22.99-20.7; L Beachley bt P Menczer 22.76-19.76; K Webb bt N Falconer 22.6-20.93; L Mackenzie bt W Botha 17.77-17.16. Semi-finals: Osborne bt Beachley 15.16-11.67; Webb bt Mackenzie 13.84-11.4. Final: Webb bt Osborne 22.66-16.0. Leading standings: 1 Webb 5,122; 2 Menczer 5,070; 3 Falconer 5,012; 4 Osborne 4,916; 5 Beachley 4,880; 6 Botha 4,465.