Wednesday, June 2, 2004 (Tavarua and Namotu Islands, Fiji) Mixed fortunes unfolded for top contestants in the Quiksilver Pro today. Round three of the Foster’s men’s World Championship Tournament (WCT) was held in great conditions at Restaurants, as well as the first heat of the fourth this afternoon.

Perfect 5ft (1.5m) surf was on offer. Strong winds eased overnight, creating epic barrels as the tide drained off the shallow reef break.

Six-time world champion and current ratings #2 Kelly Slater (FL, USA) was the shock elimination of round three, losing to Hawaiian wildcard Fred Patacchia. The 32-year-old trailed throughout the 25-minute heat, ironically against an opponent who nearly missed the anticipated showdown. Patacchia, the Quiksilver Trials runner-up, was still napping just minutes prior to the start of their heat and needed to be woken, but quickly came alive once in the lineup. The 22-year-old posted an 8.17 and then another 8.1 to storm ahead. Slater, meanwhile, never earned higher than a 6.67 and required a near-perfect 9.6 at conclusion.

“I’m definitely stoked,” said a smiling Patacchia. “I came here with the intention of doing good, and getting Kelly in a heat for the first time in my life is mind boggling. I kind of woke up late and was a bit rattled, but was able to pull it back together. I guess the stars were aligned for me today (laughs). I didn’t really have any strategy, as obviously Kelly Slater is the best surfer in the world and I have a lot of respect for him and his surfing. I didn’t really come here expecting to beat Slater . . . I came to fish (laughs). I’m having a great time and hope to go further in the event.”

For Slater, the equal 17th result does nothing for his seventh world title aspirations.

“I fell on a couple and was feeling a bit nervous and not confident on my feet,” acknowledged Slater. “This is just a ‘throwaway’ (result) now. It doesn’t help me, and if anything hurts me. I didn’t even surf in this event last year, so if I can get my head back to where it was last season, and start competing at that level, it should be an interesting finish to the year.”

Reigning two-time world champion and current ratings leader Andy Irons (Kauai, HAW) enjoyed the opposite fate. The defending Quiksilver Pro winner kept wildcard danger man Tom Carroll (Newport, AUS) at bay, opening with a 10-point ride. The flawless display of backhand surfing marked the second perfect score awarded so far, and the 25-year-old was then able to snag another 8.17 under his opponent's priority to extend his commanding lead and advance.

“Tom’s been a favorite surfer of mine since I was a kid, and still is, especially in conditions like this,” began Irons, in praise of the former two-time (1983 & ’84) world champ. “I was really nervous going into it and knew I needed to catch really good waves. My first one lined up perfect. He’s so phenomenal though, especially at Restaurants, and I definitely had my work cut out going into it.”

2001 world champion and winner of the previous WCT in Tahiti, {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (FL, USA), continued his run with a convincing victory over wildcard Alain Riou (PYF). The current ratings #5 positioned perfectly for some long, deep tube rides, earning an 8.83 top score. His Tahitian opponent — who posted the first 10-point ride of the Quiksilver Pro — actually celebrated his 21st birthday today, but unfortunately didn’t receive the present he’d hoped for. Hobgood will now face 2000 ASP world champ Sunny Garcia (HAW).

“Once again I was on a bit of a roll and my opponent seemed to have a shocker,” acknowledged Hobgood. “I was thinking maybe I should conserve some of my energy, so as not to peak too early. I know the next match against Sunny is going to be good, so I hope I can keep it up and improve on what I did out there.”

Californians Tim Curran and Taylor Knox posted big wins, with Knox accounting for WCT replacement and former world #2 Shane Powell (Avoca, AUS). The current ratings #7 secured a 9.5 ride, but still not content with this, pulled into another barrel after the heat had finished. He paid the price though, hitting the razor sharp reef lying just below the surface and suffered minor abrasions.

“It’s been feast or famine out there all day,” said Knox. “One guy combos the other guy ’cause you pull into a tube and it’s either a 10 or a two. Luckily enough I had a few opportunities and came out. Then after the heat this wave came, which I could not, not go (laughs). It was so good. I pulled into the barrel, but got slammed over the reef and paid my dues for standing up after the heat.”

1999 event and world champ Mark Occhilupo (Gold Coast, AUS) again won the day’s final heat, eliminating in-form Brazilian Paulo Moura (Florianopolis, SC) from round four. Moura, who overcame fellow countryman and yesterday’s standout Neco Padaratz in this morning’s first heat, appeared on track for another major victory. ‘Occy’ paddled into his final ride with less than 20-seconds remaining though, requiring a 6.67, and the 37-year-old ensured the win with a commanding performance on the long lefthander to score 7.83-points.

“My heart’s still racing after that,” began Occhilupo, surrounded by applauding spectators. “Paulo was in the lead, and we’d both had two high scores, and I thought it was gone. I needed a set, so I paddled up the point with only about 40-seconds left. Sure enough, a wave came out of nowhere. It was a sweet wave and went all the way. Paulo’s a force in good lefts, but I made it and am stoked.”

Another decision will be made tomorrow by 7am local time.

Quiksilver Pro Round Three (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,225)
{{{H2}}}: Paulo Moura (BRA) 16.17 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 14.33
{{{H3}}}: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 16.17 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 13.23
H4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.63 def. Alain Riou (PYF) 9.1
H5: Luke Egan (AUS) 16.93 def. Beau Emerton (AUS) 15.{{{57}}}
H6: Jake Paterson (AUS) 12.33 def. Marcelo Nunes (BRA) 11.83
H7: Victor Ribas (BRA) 17.17 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 15.53
H8: Andy Irons (HAW) 18.17 def. Tom Carroll (AUS) 12.33
H9: Frederick Patacchia (HAW) 16.27 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 12.27
H10: Lee Winkler (AUS) 16.6 def. Richard Lovett (AUS) 16.16
H11: Tim Curran (USA) 17.93 def. Daniel Wills (AUS) 15.04
H12: Guilherme Herdy (BRA) 13.84 def. Trent Munro (AUS) 10.16
H13: Taylor Knox (USA) 17.83 def. Shane Powell (AUS) 15.34
H14: Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.54 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 9.96
H15: Cory Lopez (USA) 17.87 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.3
H16: Dean Morrison (AUS) 15.6 def. Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 12.5

Round Four (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
{{{H1}}}: Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 16.66 def. Paulo Moura (BRA) 15.5
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