EVENTS RUN: Round One of Womens'; Half of Round 128 of Mens'
CONDITIONS: Proper 6-foot and building
NATURE'S CALL: Who wants seconds?
PREDICTIONS: A new women's world champ; or the continuing saga of the Round of Five thousand six hundred and forty two
John John's already way ahead of himself. Most top seeded WQSers' haven't even visited the contest site yet and the 15-year-old Florence phenom is already dominating his second heat of the day. Well, almost dominating. His tiny frame is certainly fitting into the pinchy Sunset tubes better than any of his adult sized opponents out there. He won the first heat of the day, taking down Sunset regulars Gavin Beschen and Chaz Chidester; and now he's doing it again against a hard-charging Ola Eleogram and borderline WCT-qualifier Nic Muscroft. If he can just get a 2-point ride in the dying minutes of the heat.
With less than a minute left, the veteran junior high schooler picks off a small one, punches it with a man-sized hack and works it to the inside. "Think he got it?" a nervous Muscroft fan wonders from the stands.
"Of course he got it," John John's younger brother Nathan scolds him.
And he's right. John John advances to, oh golly, the Round of 96.
That's right. In case you forgot, it's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll at these WQS events. Sixty seven four-man heats, to be exact. Four full days of sunset beatings. Poor John John will have to surf seven more times, through names like Andy Irons, Sunny Garcia and Mick Fanning, if he plans on winning this thing. Which, let's be honest, he probably doesn't (though he did already win a Pro Junior event here a couple weeks ago). Right now, the focused little Pipe local is just stoked to be here. On time even (he showed up late for his Haleiwa heat — so close, yet so far away).
Meanwhile, Muscroft kept his WCT qualifying hopes alive by winning the heat. And Mikey Bruneau, Marcus Hickman, Gavin Gillette, Tonino Bensen and two Gudauskas brothers (Dane and Tanner) all pushed a little closer towards the big dream of slaying giants in rounds so far away you can't even see them yet.
But it's early still. So early, we're not going to get into any more specifics least we get that nasty shoe taste in our mouth.
Speaking of shoes, on the women's side of the competition, it's already getting late. The Roxy Pro Hawaii is careening looming into the quarterfinals at a cataclysmic rate. If they run heats tomorrow (which looks quite likely), we could have a winner, not to mention a new women's world champ (with one event left to go even). Rookie of the Year-shoe-in Stephanie Gilmore already has the entire field pretty much against the ropes — every heat she makes in this comp, she frazzles the hopes of Silvana Lima and Sofia Mulanovich; and if she makes just one more heat, contenders Cornish, Hedges and Beachley can all throw in the towel. If Gilmore wins the event, she wins the title. If the others lose early, she still may win it. Get your calculators ready.
But out at Sunset, the real standouts today were Layne Beachley and Rochelle Ballard, who both delivered man-hacks on man-waves and showed everyone why they have so many World Title trophies cluttering up their houses. Oh, and Coco Ho, who is busy clearing room for future world titles. Maybe not this year — she's not even on the tour, yet; she just won the trials this morning — but just you wait. It's only a matter of time for her. Guaranteed.
Well, if anything were guaranteed.
Did we mention how early it still is? Well, it won't be for long.
Round 1 Roxy Pro Hawaii Heat Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Chelsea Hedges (AUS), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Roseanne Hodge (ZAF)
Heat 2: Sofia Mulanovich (PER), Rebecca Woods (AUS), Caroline Sarran (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Claire Bevilacqua (AUS), Wildcard (TBD)
Heat 4: Silvana Lima (BRA), Jacqueline Silva (BRA), Leilani Gryde (HAW)
Heat 5: Layne Beachley (AUS), Megan Abubo (HAW), Rochelle Ballard (HAW)
Heat 6: Samantha Cornish (AUS), Amee Donohoe (AUS), Melanie Bartels (HAW)
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