The ocean is the greatest equalizer in pro surfing. By the time Round Three kicked off we'd seen a number of upsets, and that trend continued through the first three heats of the day, as we watched the low seed take the win in back-to-back heats.
First up was Dan Ross who posted one of the highest heat totals of the comp to knock out Taj Burrow. This left Taj, once again, on the outside looking in, with the world title race quickly leaving him behind. Then Knox defeated Damien Hobgood in a heat where neither surfer was able to post a decent score.
The third heat of the morning started with Dane Reynolds surfing exceptionally well, but when Brett Simpson found the only barrel of the heat, that was all it really took for him to take the win. With only three heats of the third round completed, the top seeds numbered 3, 4, 6, 7, and 10 are no longer in the competition--further proof that the ocean in France this year doesn't care who you are or what you're rated. One heat will produce perfect waves up and down the beach, while the very next sees nothing but closeouts and huge rip currents.
In Kelly's first heat of the day, he won a high scoring and fairly close battle against Julian. They both locked in some high scores, but when Julian made a mistake with priority giving Kelly the best wave of the heat, that was the moment that ultimately decided the winner.
By the time Kelly paddled out for his next heat, the tide had dropped causing scattered, sand-sucking pits all over the lineup. Conditions were perfect for the new three-man fourth round. In the second heat of the round Bourez, Wright, and Slater all surfed their own peak. Bourez's area turned on at the start, giving him the lead. Then with only seven minutes to go and needing a combo of 15.64, Kelly's spot in the lineup turned on. And in a period of four minutes he caught two waves totaling 16.20, winning the heat, and getting an important jump to the Quarterfinals. Here in France, anything can happen--something Owen Wright also learned in Round 5 today. After three wipeouts he had broken three boards. Every one of those waves was a potential 10 and he came very close to making it out of all three, but on each one the ocean denied him an exit and he was forced to eat a lot of sand.
The Quarterfinals tomorrow will see three very dangerous (for the conditions) surfers left in the draw. Ross, Bourez, and Perrow live for this type of surf and will be capable of giving World Title contenders Slater, Smith, and Fanning a very difficult time on the way to deciding a winner at the Quiksilver Pro France 2010. The way the upsets have been racking up so far, you could almost say that the underdogs going into the final day are actually the top seeds.