Quarterfinalists Decided Via Oiled, Brilliant Cloudbreak
The best day of WSL competition all year was really good viewing.
Cloudbreak was back on today and it was the best day of waves we’ve seen this year in an event. The dream tour finally lived up to its name and we can stop talking about the QS1000s at Keramas and Lance’s Right. It’s refreshing to see the world’s best compete in world class waves, which ideally should always be the case…
Update: The event was called after round five. Judging by the forecast, we’ll be in for another bout of excellent surf for final’s day. We’ll see how it pans out, but one thing’s for certain: Fiji’s been the most compelling event thus far.
Round Five, Heat Four: John John Florence (17.00), Jadson Andre (10.00): Well, this was only ever gonna go one way, and it did: John John puts up two flat 8.50s with perfect drag-to-accelerate technique. As Taj Burrow said after their heat yesterday, John really is the best tuberider in the world. Jadson is determined but can’t touch John’s wave selection, positioning, or overall approach.
Round Five, Heat Three: Ace Buchan (15.67), Josh Kerr (10.66): That Taj Burrow haircut has Mr Buchan’s tunnel nav looking wildly aerodynamic. Ace is a high-class barrel rider and it showed in his heat against Kerrzy. Ace employs the claim-for-more-points on his second scoring wave, which in truth is the best wave to break within a heat and a half, and earns 8.17 to progress.
Round Five, Heat Two: Wiggs Dantas (14.27), Michel Bourez (3.77): Mr Bourez’s chances are halted with an interference call, but that’s irrelevant. Wiggs found proper tubes which he flowed into hard carves. Mr Dantas and open throat barrels go together like the praying hands emoji. The Brazilian will be continuing his run tomorrow vs Mr Slater.
Round Five, Heat One: ADS (11.34), Dusty Payne (10.37): The wave quality’s faltered a bit, it’s still of Dream Tour calibre, however it was cleaner, earlier. The opportunities for excellent scores are still there but ADS and Dusty couldn’t find anything exceeding a six. So far this was the least exciting heat of the day.
Round Four, Heat Four: Matt Wilko (16.56) , John Florence (16.43), Ace Buchan (15.16): It’s good and JJF’s claiming it. Did you see that? Is that the first claim he’s made since the oop at Keramas? He navigated a clean, no-hand tunnel. His board shivered, he kept his back foot planted and outstretched his hands upon exit. When Mr Florence is showing any kind of post-wave emotion you know he’s feeling it. The waves are proper and the perfect score bar’s been raised – it’s becoming nearly impossible to put up a 10. Wilko vs John was the battle… and for the betting men, bookie’s have the Jeep Leader nowhere near the favourite – if you put money on the current world number one, the odds are in your wallet’s favour. Wilko made the the quarters and secured the yellow jersey heading into Jeffreys. Matt’s never made it past the third round at Fiji and his title hopes roll on with aplomb. “I wanted to stop people from questioning if I could go left or not,” Wilko told Rosy Hodge in his post-heat interview. John will face Jadson Andre in round five.
Between scenes, the webcast fills time with Mick in a J-Bay jersey with one hand in the air. “We were always coming back,” his voice echoes over the moody South African fog – it’s powerful… And other than Mr Medina (who voted not to return), every other surfer on tour agrees – Jeffrey’s is quintessentially Dream Tour.
Round Four, Heat Three: Mick Fanning (18.07), Josh Kerr (15.07), Jadson Andre (13.43): Well, it’s firing. As the heat scores loft into the excellent range the familiar faces continue to dominate – Mick’s making outrageous hip-hop-hands claims after his near perfect score and capped it off with an eight. To win a heat today you’re gonna have to find a couple of double barrels and they’ve gotta be deep. Jaddy and Kerrzy had their moments. The surf’s just silly right now, the judges have had to tone down the scale. At last, the CT’s suppling waves rivalling the QS 1000’s! According to Strider in the channel, “the boys can’t wipe a smile off their face.”
Round Four, Heat Two: Kelly Slater (19.77), Wiggolly Dantas (13.34), Adriano de Souza (11.60):
Kelly Slater finally looks like the 11x World Champ we know. He’s geared up and his head’s in the event. Why? Because the waves are pumping. Kelly has an insatiable thirst for quality surf and it’s apparent Cloudbreak has got him lusting. That highly scrutinised Slater Designs Banana looked sprightly beneath the King’s feet. He came out firing, pulled into a boxy one, navigated two foam balls, came out clean, grabbed his rail and pulled up the face beneath the next section for a perfect 10. He backed it up with another Cloudbreak screamer for a 9.77 – that may have been scored a 10 if he hadn’t already set the bar. Mr Slater couldn’t contain himself as the heat progressed. He was turning and going on just about everything that came through. When the widest tunnel of the heat was passed up, Kelly was on the inside. He scrapped in late and elevator-dropped down the face, breaking his board. “I had to go,” he told Strider in the channel, post-heat. “I misjudged it and broke my good board but I’m going to put that behind me.” ADS put up a 7.77 with a deep tunnel to drawn-out carve to quick cover-up. Wigs surfed well but no one was going to beat Kelly in heat two.
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