Surf: 1 – 3′, and slightly cleaner
Rounds Held: {{{Vans}}} Hawaiian Pro, Round of 32 to the final
Nature’s Call: Just pray I’m nicer for the rest of the season.
Predicted: Lots of drunk Aussies.Troy Brooks stands on the beach, mobbed by his fellow countrymen and a crowd of newly won fans and the kind of cheers usually reserved for Slater, Irons or some other celeb. The humble Australian underdog looks overwhelmed. A few hours earlier, the only attention this tour vet could count on was the occasional ribbing about his “porn mustache.” Now, he can’t get under the competitors’ tent without some shmoe shoving his firstborn child at him for a photo opportunity. But what do you expect to happen when you simultaneously win the Vans Hawaiian Pro and jump from 51 to 22 on the WQS ratings in one event, earning the last available qualifying spot for the 2004 WCT? Especially when you do it in such convincing and dramatic fashion.”No pressure. No pressure at all.”

Brooks was surprisingly cool when announcer Skil Johnson pointed that if he won the final, he’d be next in line for the ‘CT, but then this guy has every reason to be confident. He’s known for shaking Andy Irons in waves of consequence. He’s considered the Superman of Superman airs. And he’s a lethal strategist, as proven in the first quarterfinal when he shuffled some high scores off uber-competitor Shane Beschen to stay in the game.”Not the way I wanted to do it,” he later admitted. “But he’d do the same straight back.”Damn straight. So how would he want to do it? You couldn’t pick a better example than the final. Troy paddled out and lit up two set waves with in the first ten minutes, cramming in several tightly rotated backside turns to the tune of a 16.44 score to eliminate Armando Daltro, Jake Paterson, and 2003 World Qualifying Series champion Neco Padaratz. And he did it, as stated, relatively stress-free, never even catching another wave. Only now the pressure really begins. Ranked 21, he’s currently on for the 2004 WCT but could still shift back off depending on how the bubble boys finish at Sunset and Pipe.

But the day’s real stress was reserved for the semis when the contest’s two sure-bets shockingly found the odds against them. It began when Andy Irons was missing in action less than a minute before the first heat began while the rest of the surfers were already out the back. “What’d you do with him, Kelly?” joked Liam McNamara as Slater suited up for the second semi, until Irons ran up with thirty seconds to spare, strapped on his leash, and bolted toward the water in a blaze of sand. It was a frustrating beginning to a frustrating heat. Andy fell twice, drew a questionable interference after standing up on Neco Padaratz, then paddled in with ten minutes left, offering Randy Rarick his jersey — plus a terse “Bullshit” — and storming off.With the current world champ out of the way, you’d think victory was inevitable for the current tour leader. But after putting in one solid ride early in the second semi Kelly Slater was unable to find the necessary 3.5 to transfer into the final. Of course, Kelly was slightly more diplomatic in his reaction.”Don’t know when the last time was I couldn’t get a f—king 3.5,” laughed Slates before bailing — probably to duck another yet another blitzkrieg off autograph and photo-hungry spectators. And, as predicted, most of the crowd left with him.Those who stayed, however, got to witness one of the greatest {{{Rocky}}} moments in Triple Crown history. And Brooko was more than happy to play the champ. Watch out, ‘CT: he seems to like the role. Matt WalkerRESULTS1. Troy Brooks$15,000
2. Armando Daltro $8000
3. Jake Paterson${{{6000}}}
4. Neco Padaratz${{{4000}}}
=5. Tim Curran, Trent Munro $ 3000
=7. Andy Irons, Kelly Slater`$2600
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