Connor O’Leary’s 18-Point Heat Was The Only Thing Worthwhile On Day Three
When the waves are sub-par the commentators and judges become salesmen.
For an average day at your locale, Rio looks fun. For an elite competition, however, two manoeuvre scores for heat totals just breaking double digits is dull. The WSL knows this, and because of it, the commentators and the judges give their best sale’s pitch. Six and seven-point rides turn into eights and nines. Strider talks about his “froth” level. Pete Mel says things like “boom” as Saquarema continues to offer backwash, double up sections sans tube and the occasional open face or ramp. For viewers, the only thing keeping Rio palatable is the lack of downtime between waves and the anticipation that something interesting might happen.
The men ran the remainder of round two this morning. Beginning with Jadson Andre taking out Michel Bourez with average scores and a heat total that capped at 11.
After Ethan Ewing’s 9.10 start that got everyone singing their Andy Irons’ praises, the youngest gent on the CT’s adolescence is showing (in surfing, not demeanour). Sebastian Zietz’s veteran mind shone in heat six with better wave selection. He turned three-point opportunities into (almost) six-point rides. Thrilling.
The day continued in this fashion with the occasional seven or eight mixed in. The judges kept their eye out for single manoeuvres that could increase a score into something teetering on the excellent range; competitors searched for waves they could milk three or four turns out of. It was trying. Then in heat nine, Connor O’Leary and Stuart Kennedy took their turn. Connor (13th overall), along with Zeke Lau (11th, who lost in heat 12 to Wiggs Dantas), are the only two rookies proving they can mix it up with the top 20. The Cronulla kid with the confusing ethnicity’s backhand continued its form. Versus Stuey, he put up two nines with powerful stabs. Stu would have won any other heat with big opening wraps and air revos but they wouldn’t be enough to overcome Connor’s 18-point total.
With the surf easing through the weekend and rebounding on Tuesday, for this event, more of the same is in the forecast.
In round three, which ran after the girls, Wiggolly Dantas matched Connor’s round two performance with a similar backhand attack. He beat Seabass with an 18.27 heat total.
“I feel pretty good,” said Wiggs. “I just tried to do big turns. I have good confidence here. My entire family is here and the whole crowd is amazing, and it helps a lot. When I found out the contest was going to move to here, I was so happy because I know this wave and I can surf well here. Saquarema is an amazing place.”
Mick Fanning, in the last heat of the day, took out Connor O’Leary in a close heat. Connor took control throughout the backend of the heat until Mick put up a 7.17 for the win.
“As surfers and competitors we all want to progress and keep moving forward,” said Mick. “I’m just having fun with it. I’ve never had a year where I’ve been so relaxed – this year I’m focused on upping my performance and doing my best. It was a really fun here in Saquarema back in 2002 so it’s great to come back and revisit after so long. I really like this town, it’s so mellow.”
Round three remaining heats:
Heat six: J. Florence, Y. Dora
Heat seven: J. Smith, J. Andre
Heat eight: C. Ibelli, A. Buchan
Heat nine: M. Wilkinson, J. Kerr
Heat ten: F. Toledo, K. Igarashi
Heat eleven: J. Wilson, F. Morais
Heat twelve: O. Wright, N. Young
Round three results:
Heat one: Adriano de Souza 15.67 def. Ian Gouveia 12.33
Heat two: Wiggolly Dantas 18.27 def. Sebastian Zietz 11.73
Heat three: Gabriel Medina 14.30 def. Bede Durbidge 13.86
Heat four: Joel Parkinson 15.43 def. Jeremy Flores 11.44
Heat five: Mick Fanning 13.40 def. Connor O’Leary 11.90
Round two results:
Heat five: J. Andre 11.00, M. Bourez 10.27
Heat six: S. Zietz 10.90, E. Ewing 5.07
Heat seven: C. Ibelli 14.87, J. Duru 12.40
Heat eight: B. Durbidge 14.60, C. Coffin 10.16
Heat nine: C. O’Leary 18.20, S. Kennedy 15.16
Heat ten: A. Buchan 14.94, M. Pupo 12.67
Heat eleven: F. Morais 14.40, J. Freestone 13.53
Heat twelve: W. Dantas 15.60, E. Lau 15.26
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