You will probably hear a lot of euphemisms regarding conditions on day three of the Billabong Pro, J-Bay, but if you sift through the superlatives you'll realize the conditions were below average. J-Bay’s track record over the past couple years has clearly had a huge influence on the powers that be, who seem hell-bent on getting the early rounds of this contest out the way as soon as possible. The result was a day utterly devoid of any tight or meaningful tussles, but the usual suspects will be happy to have survived the ordinary conditions without incident.
Fanning, Irons, Burrow and Parkinson will advance onward to Round Four, and they look (Slater's form not withstanding) to be well on track for a finals appearance.
Taj trounced Neco Padaratz. Andy didn't have to do much to get his scores and the result he wanted. Parko may has well have been surfing the heat on his own, and Mick Fanning made light work of South African wildcard Shaun Payne in an utterly one-sided confrontation.
With two and a half days of surfing required to complete the event at first light this morning, it seemed logical to complete the remainder of the Second Round heats and then wait for two decent days, among the nine remaining in the waiting period, to finish the event. The day did begin with picture-perfect walls reeling down the point, but it soon became clear that while the conditions may have looked great, the strengthening devil wind made negotiating the long walls a hellish experience.
The real shock for many came when Round Three was given the green light, despite the strengthening onshore winds. At first, however, it seemed like a great call, especially after Joel Parkinson ran amok in the Round’s first heat, but conditions got worse before they got better and J Bay only showed a hint of it's potential during the evening glass off.
Despite riding a wave that would have easily won most other heats on the day, before the siren, Joel Parkinson shrugged it off, paddled back out and demolished the next wave he saw. Executing a series of silky-smooth turns, Parko, rang up a 9 point ride and then followed that up with a 7.83 to finish with an identical heat score to his first round tally: a 16.83. Trent Munro was the unlucky chap left in the wake of Parko’s destructive form, and floundered in combo-land with little hope of finding a wave that could ever produce the scores he needed. Such was the case for many of the other match-ups, the results of which, were decided by single waves that offered enough to post a decent score.
Taj Burrow found one such wave in his heat to dismiss Neco Padaratz with almost double his combined score. So too was the fate of Royden Bryson who was unable to find anything worth surfing in his heat against Danny Wills. Wills seems to have a special connection with Jeffreys Bay, and the wave showed as much by supplying him with the only decent wave of the heat; a cleverly surfed 8.67.
South Africa's Travis Logie was in sublime form, and his aggressive backside attack made fellow compatriot Greg Emslie look a little ordinary. Logie's great year continues with another guaranteed ninth place. He'll hope that he can improve on that by overcoming Danny Wills in the next round.
Adrian Buchan, who had to deal with the bumpy lineup twice during the day, disposed of Josh Kerr and then Jeremy Flores in clinical fashion. “Ace” Buchan’s deadly backside attack will be a force to be reckoned with during the business end of the competition. His loose, critical hacks were the envy of the goofy-footers on the beach and the pride of his mother who was in the crowd watching. Mrs. Buchan said what was clearly evident on her face as she waited for her son outside the competition area: “I’m so proud!”
Buchan will meet up with Taj Burrow in the fourth round and could make things difficult for Burrow in his hunt for the elusive title.
Average scores marked the remainder of Round Two’s heats. Occy fell to Mick Campbell, who has looked solid, but ultimately did just enough to squeak through. Rookie, Josh Kerr, may feel a little aggrieved with the scores he received for some adventurous and entertaining surfing.
Conditions permitting, tomorrow will see the seven remaining heats of round four take to the water, and hopefully this time Supertubes will be well-groomed enough to offer a level playing field.