2009 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast: Day 4

Conditions: Knee to head high, side-shore winds, and plenty of diamonds in the rough
Events Held: The second half of Round 3
Nature's Call: You said "Bring Back Kirra," so…
Predictions: The barrel will be the only place to stay dry; here comes cyclone Hamish

Today's heats passed like falling dominoes, 1-8, without any big surprises. It's as though, with Kelly out, the top seeds are in a rush to reach the end and see which new name tops the ratings; it's less important which name that is (Jihad Khodr is still in – whaddya reckon?). The early rounds – with two glaring, bald exceptions– have taken a page out of ASP for Dummies: all of last year's Top 10 excluding Slater and Martinez are still surfing, as is the ultra-hyped trio of Dane/Jordy/Julian.

Dane is simply the talk of the town. Like a Hollywood brat with a famous last name (his was "Andjordy," and he didn't seem to like it), Dane's been busy stepping out from under his own shadow with some unconventional behaviors. He's out every evening doing the shuffle, and giving heaps of homeless beers somewhere to spend the night. The nose of his board – not actually HIS board, in fact, but one originally shaped for Jordy Smith – sported no sticker in the first round, just the letters QUIK-SILVER hand scrawled in shaky red caps lock. He's forgotten how to safety-surf, both in and out of the contest, launching with abandon instead of practicing his combos. "I'll see your air reverse," he seems to say, "and raise you my ankle ligaments."

In Round 3, he faced Roy Powers – that is to say, Roy faced him. Dane was probably looking away. Dane's pre-heat prep was to pound a cup of coffee that was still steaming in his gullet as the horn sounded, exhibiting the kind of focus normally rewarded with a Ritalin prescription. Roy has been super sharp in practice sessions, and took off with priority on the heat's best wave ten minutes in, rooster-tailing his way to an 8.77. But ninety seconds later Dane took a look at a small bump, carved and floated his way to a willing lip section, and unleashed the patented aerial chuck that anchored his perfect ten two days ago. Some people are grumbling that the judges turn to putty in Dane's hands when he busts his special move, passing out 9+ scores anytime the fins go for a breather. One is reminded of Clay Marzo's perfect heat at the 2005 NSSA Nationals, wherein the tower became so enamored with Clay's tail-throws that everyone rushed home to perfect them and – by the next year's contest – they were widely proclaimed the most played-out maneuver of all time. Or to put it another way, it's like that kid who always wins at Street Fighter because he does Ryu's fireball over and over.

Reynolds can count on his tricks to beat just about everyone else on tour, but it's hard to tap him as the contest winner. All he has to do is fall on one of those giant hucks and he'll surely lose out to the brilliant consistency of someone like Taj (his next challenger, in Round 4). But so what if he falls? So what if he falls off tour? He's one of maybe four people who could do what Bruce did last year and walk away into more success and opportunities than he'd be leaving behind. Talent is a fabulous trump card. For now, he puts on quite a show, enough so that today's write-up has mentioned little else. There's a method to this madness, though: I missed every heat before Dane's.

The next round, and Kirra, tomorrow!

Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.50 def. Dustin Barca (HAW) 6.50
Heat 2: Jihad Khodr (BRA) 18.26 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 16.30
Heat 3: Chris Davidson (AUS) 13.67 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 8.27
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.50 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.50
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.10 def. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 14.50
Heat 6: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.83 def. Nic Muscroft (AUS) 11.07
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (AUS) 14.34 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 9.00
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.33 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.84
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.34 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 12.70
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.47 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 14.17
Heat 11: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.16 def. Greg Emslie (ZAF) 10.46
Heat 12: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.70 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.00
Heat 13: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.74 def. Drew Courtney (AUS) 11.16
Heat 14: Dane Reynolds (USA) 15.23 def. Roy Powers (HAW) 13.87
Heat 15: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.10 def. Tim Boal (FRA) 10.40
Heat 16: Tom Whitaker 11.33 def. David Weare (ZAF) 11.16

Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 2: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Julian Wilson (AUS)
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (FRA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)

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