SURF: 6 feet plus and chunky
EVENTS HELD: Men’s and Womens Expression Sessions plus a charity “Footy” match
NATURE’S CALL: OK, let’s get back to normal
PREDICTED: One hell of a scrum
Last time we left you, a low pressure system of near cyclonic proportions bore down upon us, sending organizers and competitors running to the nearest hotel room. Well, most competitors.The storm may have knocked down power lines, uprooted trees, washed away parked cars and created winds strong enough to launch small pets, but it also created surf. Lots of pulsing, heaving, double-overhead-plus surf. When contest director Rod Brooks pulled the plug after Kelly Slater’s impressive heat two days ago, Kelly was straight back out there, down to Kirra, where it had been draining all day and was getting bigger by the set. By 4 p.m., while a dozen or so surfers paddled out at Snapper then eventually nabbed their dream wave a mile north at Kirra, Kelly, Dean Morrison, Makua Rothman, Marcus Hickman and a few others had a better plan: tow ins. “I’ve never been more stoked to have a Ski,” said Slater. “I got some of the best waves of my life that day.”Your correspondent got to witness one of those waves during a trip through the notorious Kirra “sweep.” In a haze of rain, mist and 50-knot SE winds, Kelly glided into a 15-foot face way before it hit the sandbar. He faded, faded and just as the wave muscled up into a bending, {{{100}}}-yard tunnel, he snuck under it. One, two. . . at no less than 10 he flew out the back, screaming like a stoked grommet.The only one who wasn’t grinning was Shane Beschen, who, after joining in the barrel gorge, fell on a below-sea-level sand-sucker and injured his knee. Early prognosis is a torn ligament, but Beschen got the next flight out to get a second opinion.Yesterday, luck turned sour for just about everyone. The winds clocked around to 50-knot E/NE, meaning straight onshores just about everywhere and victory-at-sea conditions. Some surfers were rumored to score three hours north on the Sunshine Coast, but Taylor Knox got stung by bluebottles and swept in an absurd current in Byron Bay. Everyone else? “We had some serious lounge sessions today,” claimed the Hobgoods. With the chaos gradually subsiding Saturday evening, many competitors showed up at the Tracks party to let off some of that post-cyclone tension. Kelly was there. So was Jake Paterson, Beau Emerton, Kalani Robb and Luke Munro.Not in attendance: Andy Irons, who still must be thinking about his close Third Round call with wildcard Luke Munro (local papers are making a big deal of Irons’ “nasty blocking tactics”, but trust us: there isn’t a ‘CTer out there who wouldn’t have done the same). As Andy says: “F–k the papers. He wouldn’t have gotten the score anyway. Plus, it’s a heat.”

Speaking of heats, he’s also likely thinking about his next opponent and the best backsider still going: {{{CJ}}} Hobgood. CJ has the fire and Andy knows he can get through anything after last year, so it should be the one to watch.But we will have to wait at least another day to see it. Today, Sunday is still a little hungover after Mother Nature’s two-day bender. There’s plenty of swell, but it’s breaking out in the middle of Rainbow Bay, pushing wide, fat and lumpy. Rod Brooks initially called the event off for the day, but then changed his mind. “We’ve had a change in the weather,” said Brooks. “Let’s put the expression sessions on today and clear the decks for tomorrow.” — Evan SlaterPostscript: Giving us a glimpse of how great the Irons brothers can make the ‘CT, Andy and Bruce dueled it out in hacked, onshore conditions during the Fosters Expression Session. In front of the biggest crowd yet, Bruce got it rolling with a huge, elevated frontside no-grab off an oncoming section. Hearing the screams for his brother, Andy countered with a monster, 6-foot alley-oop — quite possibly one of the biggest airs ever landed in an ASP expression session. Bruce wasn’t finished, though. He got in one more dig with a drop-kick 180 air — which ended up winning Best Maneuver. Andy won the Biggest Air (and then backed it up with an even bigger double-grab after the heat) and Tom Whitaker went way long for the best overall ride. Still, the sideshow was just a diversion for Andy. Diversion enough to keep him on competitive auto-pilot. “Hey,” he said after the awards. “I just paid for my accommodations!”