Here’s our golden sand!


Then there were four men left in the Quiksilver Pro, Gold Coast. And, what a four: Mr.'s Parkinson, Slater and Fanning, first, second and third finishers of last year's world tour, and Mr. Bourez, who's as surprised as anyone to find himself in such an excellent position. Well, maybe not everyone's surprised by Michel being in the semis...

"Spartan's been the top surfer of the whole event for me," said Joel after learning he'd face Michel tomorrow. "He looks like an animal at the moment. A new surfer, a new competitor, really focused. I love that passion he has on a wave, he's aggressive and it's gonna be a tough battle."

"Michel's (only) a dark horse because he hasn't won events," agreed Kelly. "But you put him on a right with an open face and power to the wave, and he's gonna match it better than anyone. There's not many guys on tour who are as strong as him. When he sets his shoulders and pushes with his legs, it's pretty much a thing of beauty."

So, what's Michel attribute his position to? "I feel calm," says the Tahitian. "I grew up so quick since I had my kid, that helped me out a lot with my life. Last year was a transition year, so I knew this year I had to do well, and I was ready for it."

Yes, there's Michel, who's face work has been unmatched. But lip work all belongs to Joel at Snapper. Julian Wilson put up a fight against the world champ that turned out to perhaps be heat of the event so far. "Julian is by far one of the most exciting surfers in the world," said Joel afterwards. "I had a 10 but he's just as capable to do that as well," (of 10s, Joel also said the only ones you remember are the ones with barrels – all the others are just a blur). And, what of all that World Title glow? "I feel people lift, but I feel that I lift, too," Joel said. "I guess, being world champ, I have that confidence that I've worked hard for in the back of your mind. I understand that I have a target on my back and that inspires me to lift. Especially with guys like Julian and Dane, that are really new school, and just have the amazing ability to do tricks and flow through to the next manoeuvre, which blows me away."

Joel belted lips, Michel cleaved faces, but Kelly was everywhere. Hs surfing was inspired. Or, maybe it wasn't? Maybe it was just relaxed, and fun? Who knows. One thing you can be certain of is that there ain't one single nuance that's lost on him: "That one I went to the air on, it was funny 'cause I was going down the line and the wind actually flipped and came offshore at me," he recalled afterwards of a spin that helped net him a 9.43. "When I was setting that section up I could see the wind coming up under me, so I just knew I had to get the nose towards shore and it'd keep it against my feet. It was just a bit of luck 'cause as soon as I got on the ski the wind was south."

Kelly mentioned that the few niggling aches and pains he'd been feeling had changed his game a shade: "With the way my back is, I've been shortening my turns a bit, I'm sorta scared to turn a certain way. I'm gonna have to work on that for tomorrow, I'm expecting we're gonna get some open faces." Injuries or no, it's nothing that the excitement of a heat can't block out. "It's getting better," continued Kelly. "It was bad a coupla days ago. A few tight muscles here and there. But when you get in the water the adrenaline kicks in, and you don't think about hurting, you figure you can deal with that later."

Kelly also expressed his distaste for a piece that Will Swanton had just written on performance-enhancing drugs in surfing, (a subject that's been receiving a inflated amount of attention in recent weeks). Kelly's quotes in the piece were painted as a counter to the idea of P.E.D.s in surfing, but the quotes used were actually in relation to staying relevant, performance-wise, on tour (I know this, 'cause I heard Kelly say it). There was much back-pedalling and justification about the piece and it ain't all worth getting into, but Kelly certainly doesn't have anything to hide: "You can pay for the test," he told Will. "I'll get tested all year long."

The last heat of the day saw Mick Fanning put an end to Matt Wilkinson's good run. But according to Mick, hometown advantage didn't help him much. "I'm still trying to figure out that bank, it's so tricky and changes so quick," he said. "I keep looking for the waves that I would usually wanna ride, and they just don't come. So hopefully the ones I do wanna ride come tomorrow and they just have a big smiley face stickered on them."

Mick also said he was excited to come up against the 11-time world champ in tomorrow's semis. "I think Kelly brings the best out in everyone's surfing," Mick said. "I love competing against him, you've gotta go out there with your double A-plus game. I'll focus on that tomorrow. He's pushed me so many times. It's a great rivalry, it goes back and forth a lot. I think last time we surfed against each other out here, he beat me, so I'll be looking to get him back."

Will he get him back? Tomorrow could be the best day of 2013 so far. Watch it all here. – Elliot Struck

Heat 1: 
Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.10 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.33
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.83 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 11.83
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.67 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 11.00
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.67 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.24

QF 1: 
Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.67 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.77
QF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.27 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.80
QF 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.03 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.40
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.00 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.00

SF 1: 
Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)