Mick Fanning is the 2-time World Champ, he’s also copped the most shit for his surfing since Damien Hardman was a 2-Time World Champ. But if you’ve never seen Mick surf in person you should, because nobody on tour combines speed, power, and precision as well. What he was doing today was beyond what Dusty was capable of in Round 3, and the scores reflected the difference with Dusty leaving the water needing a combination of scores. Mick even finished one ride with a smooth alley-oop—hopefully a sign of things to come as he heads towards a potential world-title-factoring-clash with Kelly Salter. In that heat Mick will be pushed to higher limits than were necessary to win his last two world titles.
As the heats went along there were moments of excitement and excellent surfing, but when Kelly Slater stood up on his first wave the opening power carve brought the crowd to its feet for the very first time. With every set getting bigger through the event and losses by power surfers Andy Irons and Taylor Knox, Kelly will be the best surfer in the Hurley Pro tomorrow, provided the surfing stays on the wave face, which it wont.
Today, the best surfing was performed above-the-lip. First-up Jordy Smith showed how wave size or quality means nothing to him. When you can catch an inside wedge and perform back-to-back impossible maneuvers for a 9.67, you deserve to wear the jersey with the big number 1 on it. And it looks as if he’s not planning on giving it up without a fight.
As impressive as Mick, Kelly, and Jordy were this morning, what Dane was able to do in 30 minutes was game-changing. Even with hundred yard walls offering countless turns, it took only one unbelievably massive air by Dane to score a 9.33 (I would’ve given him a 10). He followed that up with an out-the-back 360 nose-pick to searing carve into a wipeout for a 9.17. And just like that Dane’s three moves accounted for the highest heat total of the event so far. Dangerous Dane will prove almost impossible to beat if he can stay on his board long enough to complete a few rides per heat.
The final surfer in the Fantastic Four to surf today was Taj Burrow. He’s always a threat in any conditions, and at perfect Lowers he surfs without hesitation. Today, he put up multiple excellent scores with his trademark speed and flair. When he gets put to the test further into the comp, we all know he can match anyone in the world.
The day finished with the new Round 4 in the best surf of the year. The performance level was unthinkable. But with nobody really losing, the drama just wasn’t there. I’m going surfing now and will be back at 8am tomorrow when a potentially historic day of competition kicks off.