Jordy Hangs On, Kelly Steps Down And Mick Slides Through In Rounds Two And Three
All the Easter action from elimination day at the Rip Curl Pro.
It was beautifully sunny in Torquay today, light at 6:50 in the morning. By seven, the top 34 were dispersed between Winkipop and Bells. They’re relentless at that hour. Tearing and weaving between holiday weekend crowds. It has to be frustrating dealing with that unattractive mass. Nothing like those two-to-three man jerseyed sessions they have the luxury of often experiencing. Particularly exasperating whilst attempting to prepare for a contest.
And with that, today was elimination day at Bells (and Winkipop, again), with round two and half of round three unfolding. The short? The waves were back on. There were surprise performances. A “superheat” (if you’re into the whole aphorism thing) went down. Tempers flared and there was a healthy dose of controversy. Here are the highlights:
Jordy Smith put on a performance in the inaugural heat of round two. Smashing any upset dreams of 44-year old Bells Trials wildcard, Glyndyn Ringrose. Jordy’s signature loose style was a great pairing for the early morning Bells walls. Picking up a 9.50 and 8.90 for a combined 18.40 off just four waves caught total. Which put a healthy gap ahead of Glyndyn’s combined 8.83.
“First of all, happy Easter to you Barton,” Jordy said to Mr Lynch afterwards. “Couldn’t have asked for a better way to wake up and enjoy the day. Four to five foot Bells, perfect off shores. For me, I was just trying to figure out what the judges wanted. Mostly by building off that first seven point ride I caught at the start, which I thankfully was able to do.”
Zeke Lau was the first surfer to sniff out matching nine point rides during the day. Taking down Conner Coffin in heat four with a 9.00 and 9.40 for an 18.40 off just three waves in the heat total. Conner did put up a determined effort, catching six waves for a 16.40 score total over the course of the heat, but it just wasn’t enough to advance against the Hawaiian.
“I told myself before paddling out to just feel it out,” Zeke told Barton afterwards. “Just making sure I felt good, be in rhythm and let it happen. And I’m stoked the way it turned out.”
Mick Fanning and Ethan Ewing met up in heat eight at cranking Winkipop (an executive decision to move the action to the other side of the cliff was made just prior). A matchup that, considering Bells location, and Ethan and Mick’s tailored style, would have been ideal to see in a semifinal or finals setting. It was exciting to see regardless, even though it was in round two. There was hype nonetheless.
Mick went off to a hot start, dropping a 9.20 and 9.00 for a complete 18.20 final score. Ethan was definitely clicking, but stayed conservative in his approach, grabbing only a 5.33 and 6.70. His wave selection probably didn’t help, either, as he was often giving Mick the first wave of each set. Which were a bit better throughout the day, offering up a cleaner face and a bit more power.
“Coming up against Ethan, he’s probably my favourite surfer at the moment,” Mick told Strider afterwards. “And when the waves are that good, you have to throw everything at it. You almost have to go back on it a bit, not get too frothed. So yeah, just pull myself back a bit and surf. When Ethan was in that combo situation with five minutes to go I thought I’d go for it on those medium sized ones and see what happens, and they just lit up.”
Some controversy surrounded the final heat of round two, which went down between Jeremy Flores and Jack Freestone. Jeremy bested the Australian’s 16.64 with his own 16.70, a .06 difference. Jack’s second ride, a 7.67, was the matter of public dispute, as he needed a 7.73 to pass Jeremy, and many thought he easily got the score, or better. Of course, it’s unlikely anyone in Jeremy’s camp would echo those sentiments. Judging: It’s subjective!
In the first surprising result of the day, Frederico Morais bested Gabriel Medina in heat one of round three. The Portuguese rookie’s forehand was in sync with the long Winki rights, where he foam climbed and slashed his way to an 8.77, 5.17 and 13.94 combined. With a 6.00 and 7.57, Gabriel needed at least a 6.38 to best Frederico. Which he would have come close to achieving had he not failed to stick the landing of a massive backhand rotation.
The biggest (on paper) matchup of the day went down between Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater in heat four of round three. However, the confrontation was probably the slowest in comparison to the rest. With plenty of bogged rails, slowed turns, and tide-filled faces. And while Kelly did his best to show up (in all too literal a sense), Mick utilised a similar tactic in vein to his heat prior with Ethan. Which would be the key, as his wave selection ultimately provided him with the longer, bit more open faces he needed to inch past Kelly. With two scoring rides of a 7.00 and 6.50, Mick sent Kelly packing from the Australian leg of the tour after he managed to pick up only a 6.83 and 5.60.
In one of the most contested meetings of the day, Sebastian Zietz triumphed over Julian Wilson by just .03 points. Although Julian was awarded the highest single wave score of the matchup, a 9.37, the entire affair came down to the wire. With both Sebastian and Julian’s final waves — an 8.70 and 7.67, respectively — being the final determinant. Julian was clearly disappointed with the result, noticeably fuming (you didn’t have to be a certified speech reader to figure out what the subtitles would have said) on his way back to the beach.
With the day’s action called off after heat seven, the remainder of round three will finish (more than likely) tomorrow, with round four, five and so on unfolding afterwards. There’s more Bells action in the not too distant future, so hang tight.