Stab Magazine | Stu Kennedy shocks; dusts Gabriel Medina!

Stu Kennedy shocks; dusts Gabriel Medina!

Filipe Toledo dropped a 10 on his way to the highest combined total of the event, John Florence threw down one of the combos of the event, and Stu Kennedy and Gabriel Medina took advantage of lined-up, later-afternoon conditions to put on a genuine super-heat The Kennedy-Medina tussle began before the hooter, with the Australian […]

news // Mar 14, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Filipe Toledo dropped a 10 on his way to the highest combined total of the event, John Florence threw down one of the combos of the event, and Stu Kennedy and Gabriel Medina took advantage of lined-up, later-afternoon conditions to put on a genuine super-heat

The Kennedy-Medina tussle began before the hooter, with the Australian desperate to win the priority scrap, performing a daring low-tide rock jump in a bid to stay inside Gabs. He did, but coughed it up on a poor wave moments later. Gabriel opened the scoring hard with an 8 for a lightning flurry of floats, foam rides and vertical stabs on a frothy runner. But Kennedy, fresh from his round one demolition of 11 time world champion Kelly Slater, took the fight to the Brazilian. The Lennox Head point specialist looked razor sharp and solid in the lined-up conditions.

“It’s nice not to have to bottom turn and have someone in your road,” he said. “It was like another great day at home on the point at Lennox. It felt really comfortable.”

Stu answered Gabriel’s 8 with a run of flawlessly timed and positioned hooks, rock solid over his board, and perfectly controlled. He then heated up with his signature controlled fin-whip, topped with a series of hooks and wraps, and a vertical stab to close. But it was a finner reverse to open, followed by a seamless run of wraps and floats for an 8.5, that gave him the win.

“I love surfing against the best guys,” he said. “It pushes my surfing to the next level.

“After grinding it out on the WQS for so long I just knew if I could get on some good waves I could let my surfing do the talking instead of surfing all those beachbreaks and suff and sloppy conditions every contest I had to go to. It’s been a grind to get to this level but I’m just so stoked to have the opportunity as this replacement.”

Gabriel’s backhand was relentless, vertically attacking another never-ending wall for an 8.53. But again Stu found an answer. This time with with a flowing set-up hook timed perfectly with a sidewinding foam ball, not missing a beat as he hooked and hit lips the length of the point for an 8.31. The little-known Lennox Head surfer has now beaten two world champions in successive heats.

“To beat those two guys, it’s like a dream come true for sure and it’s like something just switched this week,” he said. “I’ve been getting goosebumps and feeling really confident when I’m in the water. So I’m fired up.”

As the conditions heated up for the low-tide afternoon heats, so did the action. Kolohe Andino threw down his second 9.5 of the event with a devastating run of power turns to get the win over countryman Nat Young. John John racked up a 9.27 with a run of power gaffs and a semi-boned double grab. But it was Filipe Toledo who sent shockwaves through the event with a round four, rubber demolition of Joel Parkinson and Conner Coffin. The diminutive Brazilian was en fuego on his way to a perfect 10, and the highest combined total of the event, a near perfect 19.20 out of 20.

“I dunno, I’m just so excited right now,” he said. “This was so so perfect, I just felt super comfortable, I pretty much know this wave and I felt really good on the wave. I’m just super excited.”

Mick Fanning was a shock elimination in round three, beaten by one of the turns of the event so far – a miraculous layback recovery from stand-in competitor Sebastian Zietz.

“Going out I was thinking, don’t do anything stupid like that, but I didn’t have much else on that wave, I didn’t have a really big turn so I knew I had to go big,” he said. “I was completely disconnected sliding sideways in the whitewater, my board magically came under my feet and the wave just picked me up and shot me out upright.”

Seabass, who’s admitted to being overcome by nerves and poor form in the past, said the occasion of surfing against someone as in form as Mick actually alleviated the weight of expectation:

“Having Mick was almost less pressure because he’s doing so good. I was thinking, just do whatever, go surf, do my thing. If I lose, I lost to Mick Fanning, who’s probably surfing the best I’ve ever seen him.”

Bass Back

Seabass and a layback that absolutely requires re-watching. WSL/Jack Barripp


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