All Photos: Jimmicane
The hard yards
Rounds 2 and 3 are nobody’s favorite. They are stepchildren, mostly. There’s no real glory in winning a Round 2 heat (unless it’s against, say Kelly Slater) and there’s a whole lot of frustration in losing in a Round 3 heat (especially if it’s against, say Kai Otton). Nevertheless, the show must go on and it always does. Even if Rounds 2 and 3 are bastards, they are bastards that serve a noble cause — gathering cream from the crop. This is where guys plant seeds of momentum, where stellar runs are conceived. Today, we saw the entirety of Round 2 and half of Round 3 at Cloudbreak. We saw seeds and conception. And we learned that sometimes, the hard yards can be the most fun.
Please, not a 25th…
Remember when the WCT had 44 guys on it and last place was a 33rd? The 33rd was well-known, it was a thing. But ever since the ASP trimmed the fat, commoners don’t seem to know what dead last place is. Well, it’s 25th. 25th is no fun; it’s like getting kicked in the balls. And these guys escaped a steel-toe to the groin today…
Glenn Hall: These yards were so hard for Micro last year — the guy literally broke his back. This year, though, the only things he broke were Josh Kerr’s hopes and a certain Australian magazine’s Facebook contest.
Tiago Pires: Tiago redeemed his 1.57 heat total from yesterday with a 13.87 points to shut down CJ Hobgood. That’s 8.83 times better than yesterday. So at this rate, we can expect Tiago to come in sizzling with 122.47 points in Round 3. Can’t say we didn’t warn you, Taj Burrow.
Kolohe Andino: Kolohe packed Aritz Aranburu’s bags today and he packed them kind of sloppily. It wasn’t the most exciting heat of the day, but Brother got the job done. Thus, a Rio rematch is set with Julian Wilson in Round 3. It’ll be a huge opportunity for Kolohe to make a statement. We’ll be listening.
Adrian Buchan: Ace cancelled Travis Logie today and will look to do the same to Adriano de Souza in Round 3. Given the fact that Ace won the 2013 Billabong Pro Tahiti in similar, smallish reef pass conditions last year, we’ve officially upgraded him to sneaky-dangerous.
…Or a 13th
While it sounds a lot better than 25th, 13th place is second-to-last. Which means you don’t want to get it. Which means you didn’t want to surf against these guys in Round 3 today…
Mick Fanning: After the Australian leg of tour, there was talk of Mick’s surfing being too much Tempurpedic mattress and not enough Fireball whiskey. This talk was justifiable. Mick has mastered the art of wave-riding in a way that borders on science and it is often predictable. But the good news is that the defending world champ is a lot more exciting and less predictable on his backhand, especially in Fiji. Anybody else feel that tingle while watching him today?
Nat Young: Behind Gabriel Medina, Nat Young is the highest rated goofyfooter on the 2014 WCT. The vice president beat fellow goof Kai Otton today, and he did so without even a bead of sweat. You gotta love this kid — he’s about two-and-half-decades, one obesity crisis and a world title away from becoming this generation’s Mark Occhilupo.
Michel Bourez: Michel Bourez. Michel fucking Boruez! He’s the real thing this year. You can see it in the that way he stares. You can see it in the way he walks. And you can definitely see it in the way he surfs. We saw shadows of AI today as Michel harassed Cloudbreak with surfing. It was a spectacle, but it also raises a question. Will Michel build his day’s best performance into a boulder of unstoppable momentum or will he slip into one of those peaked-too-early results? We shall see.
Filipe Toledo: One small step for man, one giant leap for werewolf as this little howler beat Jordy Smith today. We’ll forgive you if you didn’t have Filipe on your fantasy team for Fiji, but that’s the thing: Werewolves are full of surprises. It’s like built into their DNA. As the youngest guy on tour, Filipe is only getting better and better in every type of condition. Hide your kids. Hide your wife.
Owen Wright: Owen beat Bede Durbidge in the battle of blue collar. Bede needed a 7.74 in the heat’s dying minute and took a good shot at it. He didn’t claim. He didn’t get the score. It kind of makes you wonder what if someone with a whiter collar and an excited hand did the same thing on that wave…but yeah, Owen. Isn’t it nice to have him back?
Kelly Slater: Kelly knows this wave better than anyone on tour. He knows most waves better than anyone on tour, but Cloudbreak especially. He sought and found easy revenge on Mitch Coleborn today. This man’s rhythm with the ocean here is extraterrestrial, some real Area 51 type shit. Best of luck to anyone in his later heats.
They say that tomorrow…
We’ll see the rest of Round 3 and more with more swell on tap. And they say that tomorrow’s tomorrow, we’ll declare a champion. Stay tuned.