By Travis Ferre
Photos by Jimmicane
“13th Beach, eh?” Mick Fanning asked, as he walked up the stairs this morning amid Rip Curl’s mobile site build-up. Joel Parkinson was running down and they said hello, then shrugged their shoulders, probably glad they’d both won their Round 1 heats. Mick zoomed off in his red Holden, leaving us behind, staring at a small south swell — textured, low tide mess. Think 9th Street in Huntington Beach with south wind in the middle of spring — or anywhere waves sputter softly to shore tattered by breeze and weaker than my AT&T signal. But the call was made: Let’s run a round! All of Round 2, in fact. The first heat of the day was Bede Durbidge and Stuart Kennedy. Bede did two air reverses. Ok, I thought, I can see this going in the right direction.
That’s when things got weird. Damien and CJ Hobgood both lost to Brazilian darkhorses. And it was well deserved. Gabriel Medina showcased a plethora of airs so rock-solid they looked like they were manufactured in a Chinese factory. Then Damien went down to an ultra passionate Neco Padaratz. So passionate.
The scariest moment of the day came when Dane Reynolds paddled out against Blake Thornton. The two met at Snapper last month and Dane made it hard to even notice Blake. Today would be different. The waves were erratic and strange. Dane was feeling casual. For 20 minutes of the heat, he didn’t have a score. By the end Dane needed a 2.2 and time was getting ridiculously low. I was standing next to Kekoa Bacalso and Dusty Payne. We all looked at each other, concerned. Kekoa was laughing. This was gnarly. “I can’t believe this is happening,” Dusty said. We all held hands (practically). With 20 seconds to go, Dane paddled into the worst wave of the day. He did one pump and, needing a 2.2, he did a much-too-massive layback gouge. He pulled it…barely.
“ I cannot believe he went that big,” said Matt Wilkinson. “ I would have been tapping it.” In the end, Dane made it and our hearts settled down for the rest of the day. At least until Matt Wilkinson kick-started us with a massive blow-tail, grab-rail reverse. And then again when Brett Simpson did a one-maneuver alley-oop that pushed him passed the ultra-loveable Kekoa Bacalso. Brett Simpson proved today that he’s very much gnarlier than people think. He comes up against Adriano in the first heat of the next round.
Later in the day, the waves started to get rather good. Jay “Bottle” Thompson deserves a two-gun salute. He surfed two of the best heats he’s ever contested and still came out with a 33rd. He’s bound to blow up, but found bad luck in Bells, despite some of the most groundbreaking surfing he’s ever showcased.
Then there’s the sad tale of Adam Melling who, only needing a small score, stroked into a right-hand nugget and executed two perfect turns and one of the biggest air reverse full-rotators. He was two seconds too late. Round 3 starts now.