Surf: Shoulder high with side-shore wind
Events held: Fosters Expression Session. Main event on hold
Nature’s call: Hey, side-shore’s good for airs, brah
Predicted: Raoni Monteiro beats OccyThat’s right: whenever this most storied competition restarts, whenever full deck Gorilla Grip warrior and its competition director, Damien Hardman, sees fit — that’s when it might happen, something I can hardly utter but have to say — at age twenty-one, Brazil’s Raoni Monteiro will eliminate Mark Occhilupo. “No never!” I know you might say, like those girls from Heart and that one emotional ’80s hit, but seriously, I’m not making this up. I know what OCC did here the other day; what he’s done here for the past twenty years, he rides this wave like a bull pushed by the goads of hell, but after today’s Fosters Expression Session and its winner’s remarkable timing, a startling new fact should be known. South Brazil’s Raoni Monteiro is as dangerous as Mick Fanning. I’m a tad ashamed to admit that, too, as I’ve known since yesterday’s second round, and am now forcedly compelled to tell you this, now that he’s won two grand in today’s trick heat over both Taj Burrow and Troy Brooks. He has that certain center of balance above his board the same as Fanning or even Andy. Up against Kalani Robb in round two/heat fifteen he made this fearfully clear, dropping down into a head high “Rincon” wall and throttling into what can only be described as “White light/White heat” — in a flash leaving me and other surf “journos” beside me momentarily blinded, and able only to ask, “What was that?” They were two laser whip slashes; that’s what, bucked in enough space for maybe one, and worth 8.33 — fearfully Fanning-esq. Which is probably why I didn’t mention them, at least subconsciously, in our last briefing: they were almost too quick to catch.
But this is no laughing matter; Raoni Monteiro is set to clash with 37-year-old Mark Occhilupo in round three/heat sixteen, and he’s just won the expression session with a full rotation forehand three, topping a Taj Burrow version of the same and a Troy Brooks Superman scoop. Is this really happening? Apparently yes, as Monteiro answers the question of his next heats hope with steely stare with these simple words, “Yes, I’m ready; I’ve come from very far away.” And to win the Bell he’ll have a long way to go. Or, as OCC put it after his round two 9.5, “My confidence has just gone way up.” Stay tuned for the Rip Curl Pro round three; the winner of this next big heat may just go all the way.— Hagan Kelley