SURF: 4 to 6 feet, wet, wild and washy
EVENTS HELD: Men’s Round Three (Postponed after Heat 9)
NATURE’S CALL: Don’t worry, I’m just testing you
PREDICTED: Competitors keep the showers coming

Mark Occhilupo stood atop the hill at Greenmount and took a good, long look at the lineup. Umbrella in one hand and cell phone in the other, he noted the long, broken-up lines, the washthroughs rolling through Rainbow Bay and some dark, angry clouds headed straight toward the Quiksilver Pro. “Gonna be a wild one today, eh?” he said.

Forty minutes later, the tour’s godfather and Superbank local went out and showed just how wild it could get. Taking off from way up by Snapper Rocks, the 37-year-old showed off a backside every bit as sharp as his ’84 J-Bay display or his late-90s Skins blitz at Bells. One under-the-lip carve, a vertical hit, two long, arcing hooks…by the time he passed the rocks at Greenmount 45 seconds later, he racked up an 8.67 and one of the most polished performances of the day. As his mate Luke Egan said, “As soon as Oc gets that backhand motor running, it’s all over. He’s so dangerous in waves like this.”

Occy was fortunate. Surfing in one of the early heats, he got it before the wind and rain and increasing storm swell turned the Superbank into a mess of foam and wet wind. But the organizers at the Quiksilver Pro were ready for this, stripping down the main scaffolding at Snapper, housing competitors in the local lifesaving club and posting the judges in tents on the Greenmount hill (the same place Occy got his first glance.)

And with the occasional sand-sucking tube hidden amongst the chaos, today’s Round Three competitors still found a way to post some huge scores. Brazil’s Peterson Rosa sent his fan club into a frenzy with a stand-up double barrel across the inside. Joel Parkinson stopped one of yesterday’s best surfers, Mick Campbell, with {{{900}}} degrees worth of perfect arcs. “It’s shithouse out there!” grinned Parko, who gets to face Occy next round. “A 3 out of 10 for the Superbank. But just wait-we’ll see how good it can get.”

Parko’s mate and last year’s champ Dean Morrison also survived — just barely — against a fired-up Lee Winkler. Dingo found one of the longer tubes of the morning, posting a 9.4, but then had to grind out a 6.7 in the last minute to get by Wink. Morrison would make a great poker player. He never seems rattled or shows much emotion; he just cruises through heats with a technically perfect, low-key style. But even at his home break, he admitted he was feeling butterflies. “I keep trying to tell myself it’s just like any other day out there,” he said. “But when I was behind and caught that that last wave, I was fricken’ nervous.”

So was everyone else. Right about the time Dingo washed up to the beach with a victory, the Australian Weather Bureau of Meteorology issued a severe weather warning: cyclonic winds (up to 70 miles an hour) and torrential downpours were due to hit the Gold Coast by the afternoon. But with big heats coming up, still contestable conditions and the blessed Jet Ski-assist enabling competitors to catch 10 waves per heat instead of one, the Quik Pro continued.

In Heat 7, {{{CJ}}} Hobgood put in the day’s best backhand performance — even better than Occy’s. In two waves and 10 minutes, he left Kalani Robb needing an 18.77 combo to advance — proof that the ’01 world champ is {{{100}}} percent back after his broken foot. Just before this event, he’d spent a week at a Tahitian outer island, tuning his backhand to Rolex-like precision. “I may as well write ‘Three months on the couch’ on my hand,” he said of his injury. “It’s not hard to be super motivated right now.”

They probably should have called it at that point, but they went ahead and ran Andy and Kelly’s heats in some rapidly deteriorating conditions. No surprises here: Andy — who hasn’t lost a heat since Sunset — looked confident and in control despite having to block wildcard Luke Munro on his last scoring wave (Andy held priority). And Slater, surfing against Marcelo Nunes and a sea of whitewater, still effortlessly found a 9.5 and a 7, forcing Nunes to wave the white jersey 10 minutes before the heat ended. Clearly, both Irons and Slater are pacing themselves.

Which the organizers finally did at the conclusion of Slater’s heat. No need to rush things — we still have 10 days of Superbank left. “There will be no more surfing today,” carried commentator John Shimooka’s voice through the 50-knot SE winds. “Pack up your stuff, get your children…and head to higher ground.” — Evan Slater

{{{H1}}}: Tom Whitaker (Aus) 15.17 def. Kieren Perrow (Aus) 12.93

{{{H2}}}: Peterson Rosa (Brz) 17.3 def. Daniel Wills (Aus) 14.17

{{{H3}}}: Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 16.67 def. Nathan Hedge (Aus) 12.34

H4: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 16.03 def. Michael Campbell (Aus) 14.73

H5: Dean Morrison (Aus) 16.2 def. Lee Winkler (Aus) 15.93

H6: Jake Paterson (Aus) 14.5 def. Chris Davidson (Aus) 13.73

H7: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 18.76 def. Kalani Robb (Haw) 12.43

H8: Andy Irons (Haw) 15.5 def. Luke Munro (Aus) 14.56

H9: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.5 def. Marcelo Nunes (Brz) 4.37

Remaining Round Three Heats (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,225)

H10: Luke Egan (Aus) vs. Guilherme Herdy (Brz)

H11: Michael Lowe (Aus) vs. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus)

H12: Phillip MacDonald (Aus) vs. Neco Padaratz (Brz)

H13: Taj Burrow (Aus) vs. Raoni Monteiro (Brz)

H14: Richard Lovett (Aus) vs. Victor Ribas (Brz)

H15: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Nathan Webster (Aus)

H16: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Paulo Moura (Brz)