“Joel, you know, he had one of the highest scores today.”

Kelly Slater stands next to an internet set-up, beside a pile of about thirty surfboards just outside the kitchen of Hotel Mundaka. He’s right. Parkinson has been superb all throughout Europe with a good chance at winning this very event. But that’s the danger with a guy like Kelly; he knows how to keep tabs on who’s getting hot, and then he’ll rise to the occasion. Checking the computer screen on day he’s not even scheduled to surf, with all the look of a true sports analyst, it looks to be a very fun game. But it’s one he’s not alone in playing.

“Ah, that’s a four,” says Taj Burrow’s close WA mate, a photographer known by most everyone simply as “Twiggy.”

“If he’s lucky,” adds Taj, a copy of the heat draw clutched tight in his left hand. Kalani Robb — who isn’t one TB should like to draw if the comp comes back to Mundaka — is down to his last minute, losing to Victor Ribas in the punchy, milk-white peaks, and needing a 5.14. Kalani works the small left well, and yet, by missing one section, we all know it won’t not be enough. As the Brazilian torques into a big snap, Kalani’s not even facing the water. He’s already walked up the long, soaked beach and back to his car. Noticing, Taj raises a devious brow to his friend.

Taj Burrow is the hottest surfer on tour right now. As Slater observes, “He hasn’t been below third in the last three events –look at those stats.”

And look at that board, too. With the way he gets the inanimate piece of foam moving –like in his heat with Tim Curran today — the thing should come with a disclaimer: “Repeated viewing may cause one to become clinically blind.” Either that, or really inspired; of which Victor Ribas will have to very much be, if tomorrow he wants to stop the hottest surfer in on tour.

Which leaves the question for Taj or Joel –or anyone as we head into the third round of a contest where Slater can steal the ratings lead by making the final. Should they go all out in those next heats, or should they keep something in reserve? Expect Kelly and a host of heatsheeted others to be standing by waiting to see –you can bet on it. Hagan Kelley

Remaining Round Two Heats
H9: Taj Burrow beat Tim Curran
H10: Victor Ribas beat Kalani Robb
H11: Flavio Padaratz beat Luke Egan
H12: Daniel Wills beat Shane Powell
H13: Joel Parkinson beat Danilo Costa
H14: Jake Paterson beat Michael Campbell
H15: Lee Winkler beat Taylor Knox
H16: Nathan Hedge beat Cory Lopez

For full heat scores and information go to