Only four heats ran. In chest-high, slightly disheveled bowls, Heats 1-4 of Round 2 at the Rip Curl Pro staggered onward. Most of the time, the first four heats of Round 2 are as big of news as Guilherme Herdy starting a surf camp — rather easy to ignore for eternity. But this wasn’t like most times. Your two world title warhorses happened to have heats within the four. Two men entered, one man left.
Mick opened up the round in a duel with Francisco Alves. True to himself, Mick linked some turns together and put 13 points on the board. It was enough to send Franny packing. Kelly, in his bout with Frederico Morais, stuck an air reverse for a mid-range 5 but Freddy stuck a better one for a 6.67. The champ never found his feet (or a 6.91) in that Eastern Atlantic and down he went. Reports are that Kelly did not let the door hit him on the way out. Instead, he left it open for Mick.
If Fanning trumps his way to the semifinals, he will become a three time world champion. He would tie Andy Irons’ title count and he would possibly even start drinking and go on to win the event — as he did in Brazil after winning his first title in 2007. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Mick’s got a long way to go, and everyone loves a good surprise. —Brendan Buckley