While the spotlight was firmly on the final day of the Roxy Pro, which, was run and won by Mel Redman-Carr (AUS) over Layne Beachley (AUS), the men in the Quiksilver Pro presented by Samsung got down to business with the completion of round four and the quarter finals.
In “peaky” one metre (three foot) waves at Duranbah the performance level of the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour was raised yet again as all competitors remaining in the event were launching every existing trick in the book, bigger than ever, plus inventing new ones.
Leading the charge in the quarters was none other than Kelly Slater (USA) who was in blistering form.
Many onlookers have stated that they have never seen Slater so active as he was launching incredibly huge aerials, reverses and anything that he so pleased to perform.
His turns were some of the most technically brilliant ever seen, as like a fine tuned gymnast, he would land his acrobatic-style turns with his feet heavily planted then run straight into his next impressive “hack”.
Interestingly Slater has not won on the Gold Coast since 1998, so to get past the quarter-finals was a huge “mind hurdle” to get over.
“It’s nice to get through that quarter final heat because that’s been where I’ve stopped these past few years,” said Slater. “It’s great to get that out of my mind.”
Slater will come up against giant-killer Bobby Martinez (USA) who claimed another couple of big scalps today in local hero Joel Parkinson (AUS) in round four, and then world number four in Damien Hobgood (USA) in the quarters.
Slater was full of praise for the youngster and was looking forward to competing against him in the first semi final to be held tomorrow. He was however, wary of the rookie’s ability.
“It’s nice to be in the semis with Bobby,” said Slater. “He’s a longtime friend of mine and a great surfer. I’m just stoked to have him on tour. On paper with the guys he’s beaten in this event… well they’re the guys you have to beat to win the event and he’s taken out all the heavies. Maybe they underestimated him a bit. Bobby is just really quiet and just does his thing and smiles. I’m certainly not going to underestimate him. Some guys who have been on tour for years have never taken down so many good guys like he has.”
Martinez, as Slater suggested, was very cool about his spree of big-name defeats. The Californian youngster was taking it all in his stride and was not letting anything get to his head.
“There’s no was no way that I would have thought I would be going into the semi finals in my first event,” said Martinez. “I guess I keep getting lucky with waves. My luck is going to run out sooner or later but I hope it’s not in this event. I’m not thinking about winning at this stage. It would be nice to get the trophy for sure, but if I think too much it’ll go to my head and then I’ll lose so I just have to maintain focus and take it one heat at a time.”
Showing his fins on just about every wave he caught was a new and improved Taj Burrow (AUS).
Burrow, who had three long months out of the water with a broken foot had been training for the first time in his career going into this event and the extra strength showed in his added speed.
Burrow defeated three-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion in Andy Irons who was stuck for waves in their encounter.
Going into the quarter Burrow and Irons had matched up 15 times in their illustrious careers and Irons had won 10 while Burrow had won five.
That stats of course see Burrow getting a little closer in that he now hold six victories to Irons’ 10.
“It was good fun out there,” said Burrow. “It’s no use being scared of the high seeds. I’d rather take them head on to make the rest of the contest easier. I’ve done some strength and cardio work for the first time which is different for me. Any bit of training you do builds confidence and yeah, I’m feeling confident. I’ve never ever been out of the water for more than a couple of weeks and to be on the lounge for three months last year really made me appreciate being in the water. I think it’s now or never to win a title.”
Also charging on into the semi finals in his rookie year was the highly touted Brazilian, Adriano de Souza.
Looking more than at home against California’s Taylor Knox in quarter number four, the pint-sized 19-year-old’s massive following from his fellow countrymen was highly evident as they cheered every time he smacked the lip or launched a progressive aerial.
“I’m really stoked to get this far in my first event,” said de Souza. “The conditions here are very much like my home and I feel really comfortable out there. There are a lot of Brazilian people here cheering me on so when I catch the wave I hear them telling me to ‘come on’. I’m looking to do some big airs and hopefully I can go on. I’m not talking too much because there is still a way to go.”
Organisers could opt for a very early start tomorrow given that the forecast has indicated that the swell could back off by lunchtime. A call will be made by 6.30am local time.
There are only three heats left being the semi-finals and final plus the ever-popular Foster’s Expression Session, so all could be wrapped up by lunch time.
Stay tuned to www.aspworldtour.com and www.quiksilver.com for all the up-to-the-minute information.