MONDAY: Round four – A decidedly odd day of competition today. Little sign of our promised new swell at dawn and many anxious faces coming off the early boat to Cloudbreak to assess conditions. We were placed on hold until 10, with hopes that any hint of an increasing swell and the turn of the tide at 11 am would allow a start.

Competition eventually got underway in decidedly uninspiring, inconsistent three foot, low tide Cloudsters, with the intermitent arrival of rare set waves virtually determining the early heats. Without putting too fine a point on it, your correspondent correctly predicted the outcome of seven of the eight round four heats. Admittedly, the obvious favorites triumphed in the sketchy conditions, with both the swell and the wind increasing throughout the day. Bede continued his rock solid backhand belting of even the most inconsequential waves to stop the dashing Luke Stedman. Birthday boy Taj (who, incredibly, is now 30 and so officially no longer a grommet) comboed a shaven head Timy Reyes. Kelly squeezed past Damien Hobgood. Mick Fanning was his usual razor sharp self against Dayyan Neve. {{{CJ}}} prevailed over a still impressive Wardo. And Joel, buoyed by the arrival of his lovely wife Monica last night, was all loose, flowing grace and dynamic snaps in the pocket to shutdown a determined Pancho. Joel has thus moved out of the boy’s dorm and the Parkinsons, minus children, have taken up residence in Namotu’s evocatively titled Love Shack, wherein the entire fortunes of the contest may well be decided. Expect Parko to be either on a monumental high or thoroughly exhausted for finals day tomorrow. The happy couple were last seen exiting the contest site on Namotu’s fishing boat, Joel selecting a rod with which to decimate an appealling school of tuna which were breaching nearby.

My perfect tipping record was only marred by that pesky Brazilian dynamo Adriano de Souza, who squeaked home against an unlucky Fred Patacchia, who needed a 7.67 on his final wave, and was given a criminally harsh 7.33 for a little tube and three gigantic snaps. But what I am telling you for? You probably had a better view of it on the webcast than I did from the ‘Awesome Adventures’ Fijian cruise ship parked adjacent to the break. The fetching yellow, cast iron vessel serves as the mother ship to this massive enterprise here in Fiji and depending on the undulations of the swell, the lineup swings out of view at the most inopportune moments, dammit. Other than that small inconvenience, life here in the South Pacific continues on its gentle, soothing rhythms. Excuse me, it is just about time for my evening platter of sashimi and a cool Fiji Bitter. Quarter finals look rather more difficult to predict, with an early start in favourable winds and an easing swell predicted tomorrow. Bula.

(1st advances to Quarters; 2nd finishes =9th)

Heat 1: Bede Durbidge def. Luke Stedman
Heat 2: Taj Burrow def. Tim Reyes
Heat 3: Bobby Martinez def. Adrian Buchan
Heat 4: Kelly Slater def. Damien Hobgood
Heat 5: Mick Fanning def. Dayyan Neve
Heat 6: CJ Hobgood def. Chris Ward
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson def. Pancho Sullivan
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza def. Fred Patacchia

(1st advances to Semifinals; 2nd finishes =5th)

Heat 1: Bede Durbidge v. Taj Burrow
Heat 2: Bobby Martinez v. Kelly Slater
Heat 3: Mick Fanning v. CJ Hobgood
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson v. Adriano de Souza