And then lets restart. Joel Parkinson and Wiggoly Dantas paddled each other way, way up the point in the first heat of the day. 10 minutes went off the clock without a wave in sight. As soon as the judges put 35 minutes back on the clock, Wiggoly went to work. Nothing fancy. Nothing flashy. Event MC Greg Emslie likened the matchup to the lion vs the hyena. Not a bad analogy. Parko is, after all, the 2012 World Champion and has won twice at J-Bay, while Wiggoly is a rookie on tour. This morning, however, the hyena snacked in bite size bunches while the lion held his ground, waiting for a meal that never arrived. Or maybe, he was still full after yesterday’s 18 point feast.
Would you rather?
Be the best free surfer in the world or the best contest surfer? As he was stretching for his heat against Mick Fanning, CJ Hobgood posed that question in the competitors area, to nobody in particular. In the second heat of the morning — Dane Reynolds versus Adriano De Souza — that’s the matchup we got, and today, the best contest surfer prevailed. It was a slow heat, with no fireworks, and Adriano won. His world title hopes? Still alive. The chance of seeing Dane on tour full-time next year? Not great. Dane nor Adriano were happy with the decision to run at dead low tide this a.m. — especially with the devil wind blowing straight up the face. But with less-than-perfect swell on the horizon and iffy-winds on the forecast, they sent them out anyway. The minute the tide changed and their heat ended, the wind backed down and conditions improved dramatically.
If you ask Mick Fanning. Is it weird to call Mick underrated after 3 world titles and having won here at J-Bay twice already? Others have his talent. Parko. Dane. Kelly. But (aside from Kelly) nobody else consistently bottles that talent and turns it into results at nearly every event, year after year. Against CJ in the third heat this morning, he quickly turned two medium sets into two 8-point rides. Technically you could say he sent CJ packing, but that’s not the case. CJ, on his last tour of the Championship Tour, isn’t going anywhere. He was the last person to leave Fiji after his first round loss there, and here, at J-Bay, he’ll stick around until the very end. Afterwards he congratulated Mick. “I told you to turn it down a notch,” he laughed. “And you just turned it up.”
Coach ‘em up
Mick is working with Jarrad Howse here in JBay. The other day I asked Jarrad about the experience, as this is his first time on the job with Mick. “He rang me a couple weeks before this event, and I was happy to jump onboard. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I know Mick doesn’t like to travel with a big group of people and if he were here on his own it’d probably be fairly boring. I’m another set of eyes and ears and someone that he trusts. I was nervous, as Mick and Phil [McNamara, his long time coach], have had such success. Those are big shoes to fill, that’s for sure.” So far, so good. Mick looks every bit the man to beat out at J-Bay.
If Mick doesn’t win, a goofyfoot will. (Medina or Nat)
9s or nothing
Matt Wilkinson and Gabriel Medina went 9 for 9 for 9, but it was Medina’s 9.7 that finished Wilko off. (His 19.07 heat total is the highest of the event so far.) Then, two heats later, it was Michel Bourez’s last second 9.5 that flipped the heat versus Bede Durbidge. (They would actually end up tied with 15.16 points a piece, but Michel got the nod with the 9.5) And finally, in the last heat of Round 3 versus Filipe Toledo, Alejo Muniz found the wave of the entire damn day and ripped the shit out of it. When he took off he was in need of a 9.2. He nailed a 9.8 — the highest of the event so far — and took down the current world number 2.
Who else won?
Sandwiched between all of those 9s, in a pair of slower heats, Kelly tactfully beat Kolohe and Keanu put up two quick mid-range 7s to take down Kerr.
We’re off. It’s looking pretty dang small Wednesday-Friday, with a new swell arriving just in time for the last two days of the waiting period. Jimmicane just heard Kelly Slater talking to Charlie, Gabriel Medina’s stepdad. Kelly joked: “Hey Charlie, looks like we’ll have a few days off for some golf, yeah?” (In reference to SURFING photog Corey Wilson’s Instagram below.) The event still needs two days to finish, so we’re most likely taking this thing to the bitter end. — Zander Morton