While Gold Coasters slept Monday night, the wind and waves from much anticipated Tropical Cyclone Hamish filled in and brought the Superbank (which has, for the past several days, been half awake with a moderate wind swell) to life. At first light, it was obvious Round Four of the Quiksilver Pro would be hitting the water, and not just because the event window closes on Wednesday afternoon, but because the swell had jumped up from shoulder-high to overhead. The question wasn't would it run, but where would it run?
By 10:00 a.m. officials had decided on Coolangatta Beach (the northern stretch of squeaky white sand that stretches from Greenmount to Kirra), where the swell was hitting with more intensity and some dredging barrels. For anyone who's skeptical of the ASP's ability to adapt and improvise, the speed and decisiveness that they relocated the entire event a mile north to Coolangatta from Snapper Rocks was certainly impressive, and by 11:00 a.m. the horn was sounding to begin Round Four.
The highlights from the Round that determines who makes the quarterfinals included:
CJ Hobgood's late 9.07 that took him in front of Jihad Khodr (who had a string of impressive performances during the Quik Pro) with just two minutes left in the round.
Joel Parkinson's incredible tube ride, caught with only 10 seconds left in Heat Two, that earned him an 8.73 and propelled him ahead of Chris "Davo" Davidson at the buzzer. Davidson couldn't have been happy, but he surfed a great first event of the year.
Mick Fanning's dominant performance against Jeremy Flores that seemed less like a surf contest heat and more like a lesson in home-court advantage, with Fanning sitting in the perfect spot in a shifting lineup that could frustrate even lifelong Gold Coast specialists.
Julian Wilson's (he's the wildcard who took down Slater in Round Three) five-second tube to earn him the lead with just a minute left, and Damien Hobgood's backside barrel reply as time ran out. Hobgood advanced.
Bede Durbidge's near perfect use of priority to frustrate, and ultimately eliminate, Jordy Smith, who may not have surfed the Quik Pro exactly as he'd hoped to, but certainly showed improvement over last year.
Adriano de Souza's hacks, gouges and turns that easily swept Fred Patacchia aside.
Taj Burrow's win over Dane Reynolds, despite two fantastic waves Dane caught in the final couple minutes. Reynolds was upset after the heat, and he should have been. He was certainly underscored on his second-to-last wave, and only a few people saw his final wave—a sick barrel he caught as time expired that would have put him into the Quarters—but judges missed it and pretended it didn't happen. Regardless of the mishap, Dane has proved over the past year that he not only belongs on the Dream Tour, but that he can dominate it. Let's all just hope moments like Heat Seven don't sour him to the idea of a career spent chasing world titles.
Ace Buchan's psycho backside turns. Tom Whitaker knows how to surf a heat, but when your competition is throwing buckets, what can you do?
During Heat Six it was announced over the PA that the event would run through the end of the quarterfinals on Tuesday, which would leave only three heats for Wednesday: two semi finals and the final. With so little event left to run, that would give organizers their pick of tides, and with Hamish parked off the coast, most agreed it was a good call.
The quarterfinal heat between Joel Parkinson and CJ Hobgood was a statement about how good a surfer Joel is when he's focused. It didn't hurt Parko's cause that CJ surfed one of the most crap heats on record, but Parko was on fire, making long tubes, and throwing himself into turns. The Gold Coast kid eventually combo'd Hobgood the Floridian, booking a spot in Semi Final Number One.
In Mick Fanning's quarterfinal against Damien Hobgood, Fanning pulled out the stops, and set a pace that would be impossible just about anyone else to keep up with. Fanning took the heat, sending the other Hobgood twin home, and booked the second slot in a Cooly Kids Semi Final #1—Joel versus Mick.
Surf media typically has little to say about Brazilian surfers, but Adriano de Souza's (pictured above) complete humbling of the 2008 World #2, Bede Durbidge was a thing for the record books. De Souza got off to a screaming start, earning 14-plus points in the first few minutes of the heat, and continuing the domination throughout. Bede had what's typically referred to as "a shocker," and seemed unable to find a solid wave. Adriano used priority like an old pro, and he even kept his cool when after his first wave his board was accidentally broken by the Water Patrol. He kept his cool and progressed against one of the hardest surfers on early to beat.
In Quarterfinal Four, Taj Burrow magically found a barrel at the northernmost end of Coolangatta Beach with literally seconds to go, and when he popped out, he ended a solid run Ace Buchan had been on all event. It was an exciting heat that was typical of this year’s Quiky Pro, with local boys pulling out heat wins in the dying seconds.
Because it's the last day of the contest window, Wednesday will host the semi finals and the final, no matter what conditions are like. Aussie forecasters are putting the surf in the ten-foot-plus range tomorrow, and if tide and wind cooperate, there could be some incredible barrels during the final couple hours of the event. The match-up between Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning will be incredible, so please, do NOT miss it.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 4 Results:
Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.24 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 16.43
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.90 def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.90
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.90 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.40
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.30 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.50
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.16 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.93
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.10 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.00
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.23
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.33 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.33
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Quarterfinals Results:
QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.37
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.53 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.00
QF 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.86 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6.77
QF 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.40 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Semifinals Match-Ups:
SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)