SURF: Chest high, bloated and sluggish with the occasional racetrack
EVENTS HELD: Women’s to the Final, the rest of Men’s Round Three
NATURE’S CALL: Give me a break: I’ll still make your legs burn
PREDICTED: Another carnival in Brazil today; a 2004 Quik Pro champ tomorrow
“It’s funny,” says Richie Lovett, staring out at the fat, mushy rights formerly known as the Superbank. “It’s as if the legendary sandbar was just a myth.”Could it really be? Are we really facing a mediocre end to the most anticipated ‘CT season opener of all time?Well, when there are dual Men’s/Women’s ‘CTs going on, there’s only one way to find out: send out the girls. The women always get the green light when the Men and the organizers are on the fence, something the girls have reluctantly grown to accept. “Heck, at least this spot’s surfable,” said Keala Kennelly earlier in the event. “At spots like Bells, they throw us out in stuff that isn’t fit for human consumption. We surf in dog food conditions.”It might not have been prime-cut Superbank, but it was far from dog food today. Steady offshores, a light mist and the occasional lined-up right made the girls more than willing to chuck on a jersey and take on the Bank. After all, if the contest weren’t on, they would have been “practicing” in the same lineup anyway. The only difference: it would have been filled with no less than {{{200}}} surfers, goat-boaters and the odd kneeboarder picking up the scraps.With the coast cleared, Jacqueline Silva won this year’s Roxy Pro, her first win since the 2002 Billabong Pro in Maui. The smooth, calculated regularfoot from Florianopolis, Brazil threw up two big hacks on her first wave against fellow finalist Rochelle Ballard, earning an 8.6. After her coach, Bira Schauffard, paced the shoreline, touched the water and made the sign of the cross, Silva followed up with two more scores in the 6-point range, sealing the year’s first victory. “All our work. . .all our work has paid off!” said Schauffard, tilting back his head toward the sky.Silva winning may be big news, but the ones who didn’t win is even bigger news. {{{Eight}}} days ago, after current world champ Layne Beachley put a damper on Lisa Andersen’s 35th birthday celebration by beating her in the round before the Quarters, Rochelle Ballard made a prediction about her next opponent: “I’m gonna take Layne,” she announced.”Especially if it’s barreling,” added her friend Kennelly with a wicked grin. “You just watch.” The veteran Kauai girl didn’t forget her prophecy. And heck, it wasn’t even barreling. Not only did she fend off Layne in the quarters, she beat Australia’s next female world champ, Chelsea Georgeson, in the quarters. Georgeson has a mean backhand. She moved up to Tweed Head from Sydney a year ago, and has invested her skills in the Superbank. But somehow, on this inconsistent day, she failed to find just a 2.9 in the final nine minutes. “I guess I just fell asleep out there,” she said.Count on Beachley and Georgeson to make up for their missed opportunities at Snapper in the coming events. And unlike the past couple of years, they’ll have plenty more chances to do it: the Women’s ‘CT is stacked with 10 proposed events this year. “Suddenly,” said CT surfer Prue Jeffries, “we have a real tour with no time to think about anything else.”The men know all about those stacked schedules. Today, at the end of Round Three, 29 surfers are now sucking up a poor finish and thinking ahead to the even fatter rights of Bells Beach. A few observers were wondering if the Men’s competitors complained about competing today at the Superbank. The answer? Not even. They’re posting nines, they’re surfing waves equivalent to a good day at Lower Trestles and it ain’t getting any better. As Phil MacDonald says: “No complaints here — we have to surf.”In retrospect, MacDonald is probably wishing he made more of a stink. Because as the last heats of Round Three unfolded this afternoon, it became clear that Silva’s win was just the beginning for Brazil. First came Guilherme Herdy, stealing a lead back from Luke Egan in the final minutes to take the win. “You can never give up,” said Herdy. “Just keep hitting it til the horn sounds.”

Neco Padaratz followed up with one of his “emotional small rights” wins against MacDonald, and the streak continued. Victor Ribas shocked Richie Lovett with some of the best wave selection of the contest, prompting former pro Mitch Thorsen to cry out: “The Superbank’s come back. . .but just for Victor!” And in the last heat, Paulo Moura convincingly outsurfed an out-of-rhythm Damien Hobgood.In fact, the only male Brazilian who lost today was Raoni Monteiro, a solid regularfoot who had the misfortune of drawing a surfer who might as well be his own country: Taj Burrow. Taj’s fizzle at the end of last year certainly hasn’t affected his popularity or his drive. The man’s a master of his own image, hiring his own production crews for exclusive photo shoots, going larger than life in the latest Globe movie and putting off a star quality like no other ‘CT surfer.Plus, his surfing backs it all up. Taj broke his hand while hitting a punching back about six weeks ago, but the month out of the water may have even helped. On one wave today, he pulled of a speed-float-to-foam-climb combo that went down as the most technical surfing of the day. And he did it on a 6’1″ JS squashtail with the saying: “Loose Lips Sink Ships” across the bottom.”What’s with the phrase on the bottom of your board?” SURFING asked Taj.”Oh, it’s just something we’ve been working on,” he replied in a vague, “secret project” kind of way.”Some deeper meaning behind it?””Maybe,” he smiled.Here’s the thing: Superbank or no Superbank, the contest will finish tomorrow. Taj has Kelly in his path; and on the other side of the draw, Parko, Dean Morrison, {{{CJ}}} Hobgood and Andy Irons will have to sort things out. And as soon as it unfolds, we assure you: there’ll be plenty of loose lips from the SURFING camp. — Evan SlaterQuiksilver Pro presented by Boost Mobile Round Three (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,225)
H10: Guilherme Herdy (Brz) 15.66 def. Luke Egan (Aus) 13.84
H11: Michael Lowe (Aus) 15.7 def. Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 13.77
H12: Neco Padaratz (Brz) 17.0 def. Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 7.4
H13: Taj Burrow (Aus) 17.0 def. Raoni Monteiro (Brz) 14.7
H14: Victor Ribas (Brz) 17.4 def. Richard Lovett (Aus) 12.23
H15: Taylor Knox (USA) 15.4 def. Nathan Webster (Aus) 13.46
H16: Paulo Moura (Brz) 15.34 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.43 Roxy Pro presented by Boost Mobile Final Results
1st – Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 14.94 – US$10,000
2nd- Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 11.9 – US$6,000
Semi-finals (1st>final; 2nd=US$4,000)
SF1: Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 8.5 def. Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 8.4
SF2: Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 16.27 def. Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 8.6
Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$3000)
QF1: Chelsea Georgeson (Aus) 14.0 def. Samantha Cornish (Aus) 10.5
QF2: Rochelle Ballard (Haw) 10.16 def. Layne Beachley (Aus) 9.46
QF3: Jacqueline Silva (Brz) 12.67 def. Laurina McGrath (Aus) 11.1
QF4: Melanie Redman-Carr (Aus) 14.83 def. Maria Tavares (Brz) 11.43