The Box Neither Hates Nor Loves You

You know the routine of the 2015 Drug Aware Pro Margaret River by now. Eight or so heats go down at The Box with barrels that you could drive maybe not a semi-truck but at least one of those sleek, sexy SUVs through and miscalculations that make the mother of every tour surfer wish their son had studied accounting instad. Then we take an hour breather and finish off the round at Main Break Margaret River. The first three rounds of a ‘CT competition consist of twelve heats each, so this was an easy pattern to weave for the first three days. Now, let’s talk about what made the pattern of day three different.

It was the first winner’s round of the event — like, you actually had to win a heat in order to surf today. In theory, that should mean the level of surfing was upped but ehhhhh, not really. If anything, it weeded out the people who don’t mesh well with Box and there’s probably a joke about fitting pegs in the corresponding shaped hole somewhere in there. There were busy moments and there were slow lulls and there were almost 10s and there were heats that didn’t claw into the double digits. Groundhog Day indeed.

The second biggest story of the day was Mick Fanning losing to wildcard Jay Davies. It’s big because Mick was the ratings leader — actually, he was tied for the lead with Filipe Toledo. But Filipe also lost early so the door is now wide open for Adriano, Julian or Jordy to waltz in, mix themselves an Old Fashioned and make themselves comfortable in that golden jersey. Or maybe Kelly?

For the first time since 1943, Slater is not currently ranked in the Top 10. He’s lost the fire, you’d think. He’s just too old — like that dog in Homeward Bound. Turns out no. The guy’s still got it. In his Round 3 heat against Glenn Hall, Kelly showed us the first bit of Kelly magic we’ve seen in a while. He posted 19.50 points, which included a lavishly over-scored 9.5 for two turns and mistake and a legitimate 10 for a tube and three-turn combo at oversized Main Break. Might he use this to insert himself back into the World Title discussion?

Speaking of the World Title discussion, it’ll be an interesting one when this Australia leg wraps up. Interesting, meaning a complete shit show. Don’t expect anyone to have an early-season chokehold on the lead. Do expect it to be anyone’s game as this season struggles to find an identity. And do come back tomorrow, as we’ll likely have more from WA for you. —Brendan Buckley