2009 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Day 5

Conditions: Overhead tubes in an angry sea
Events Held: Round 4 through Quarterfinals, with heats extended to 35 minutes each
Nature's Call: I could have blown all your little tents down, you know.
Predicted: After seeing Mick/Joel/Taj take the ratings lead, a frothing Andy Irons will turn up at Bells

A surf fan couldn't have hoped for a better Round 4 heat draw than the one that was contested today at...um...not Snapper, not Kirra...Snirra? Yeah, Snirra!

Actually, they decided to refer to the chosen bank as "Coolangatta Beach," a contestable and semi-crowd-friendly stretch of sand centrally located just north of Greenmount Point. It should have been called Snirra. Whatever their shortcomings in naming surf spots, though, the ASP sure can cook up a fourth round. Winners included both Hobgoods, Parko, Mick, Bede and Taj - he in a scorcher against Dane Reynolds that had everyone shaking in anticipation. The most exciting heats certainly deserve a closer look.

How {{{CJ}}} Did It: By muscle memory. When Ceej's heat hit the water, the high tide was still hamstringing any chance at long, perfect Kirra. Instead, Snirra was serving up stormy, sectiony grinders that were a spitting (literally, at times) image of your archetypical ESA Easterns. CJ showed his pedigree with quick feet and sneaky cover-ups.

If Only...Jihad Khodr had claimed his doggy-door barrel harder. It's debatable whether Jihad was calling for the jet-ski or raising his fist in self-congratulation. Since everyone knows a claim is worth an extra point, and Jihad lost by 0.81, he really should have made his intentions clear.

How Mick Did It: By going back to his roots. Before Mick became the poster boy for Swiss ball training and serious facial expressions, he was White Lightning: Fastest Surfer on the Planet. This came in handy as Snirra's inside bank turned into a churning racetrack. Digging even deeper into the past, Fanning isn't a Snapper local at all; he's a member of the Kirra Surf Club, so the relocation to "Coolangatta Beach" brought him that much closer to home.

If Only...Jeremy Flores had drawn somebody else.

How Damien Did It: Like Mike - clutch. Damo led through the thirty-minute mark while Julian Wilson kicked around the messy impact zone, out of rhythm and eventually breaking another of his pink charity boards. Julian needed a 7.5 at the end when a thicky let him in, let him out, and put QLD's little darling in front for his second Floridian scalp in as many heats. But Damien likes his scalp - unlike Kelly's, Dam's still has hair attached - and he decided to keep it. He threw Hobbity-hooks across the outside before pulling in high and tight on a must-make foamball. The bottom fell out of it, but Dam didn't, screaming into the flats for a 9.0 and the win.

If Only...Julian hadn't gotten cheeky in Round 3 against Karma's favorite surfer. Actually, Julian isn't a cheeky guy; he's humble and friendly and, had he not sent Kelly home early, he wouldn't be one bit a sorry, no good rat-fink.

How Durbo Did It: Steady, like his speech and handshake. Bede exhibited his characteristic flair (none) in the walled bowls, but surfed strong and solid on the heat's better waves. The most flamboyant thing about Bede is his custom license plate (it says "Durbo," so you know who's going 15 mph in front of you and waving at the old people).

If Only...Jordy had gotten longer waves. He leaned into some freaky turns on some freaky hunks of water, but it wasn't enough to match the consistency of the world #2.

How Dane ALMOST Did It: In a smoky backroom, with a briefcase of swag and some crooked judges. Dane's early 9.50 was a mystery straight off one of Kelly Slater's conspiracy websites - that is, to anyone watching the webcast it was. The live cameras didn't catch Dane's ride and anyone not actually there in person merely heard tell of the giant score. How much does an imaginary wave cost, Mr. Reynolds? Five of your grainy celluloid creations, autographed? Ten?

Actually, the ride did happen and nobody was bribed: Dane disappeared behind the curtain between a couple of solid hits, but still it wasn't enough - Taj surged late with a 17.00 total that proved sufficient to advance. Dane had a chance, and did the turn of the day* - slicing around the pocket like a Savile Row tailor (or a Carlsbad Taylor) - but the wave closed out and TB breathed a sigh of relief.

If Only...Dane's photographs were a little better.

Despite a brief rain-squall, the decision was made to roll on through the quarters in Snirra's increasingly hollow and make-able tubes. Tubes were, indeed, the Ring of Sauron in today's competition (preciousssssss); and like Frodo putting on the ring, the surfers did their best to disappear**. Parko did, and comboed a Hobgood; Mick did, and comboed the other one. Even Adriano De Souza got in on the action by comboing Bede Durbidge. Taj's quarterfinal was more dramatic, but he too found the barrel to land himself in tomorrow's semis, an 8.33 with 20 seconds to go proving the clincher. All day it was nothing but prime displays of surfing from the very best, and with just three heats remaining in this marathon first contest, we're definitely going out with a bang.

Still to come on Wednesday:

1. Fanning v. Parkinson
2. Burrow v. De Souza

There's no excuse for missing this last ninety minutes of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast when it ramps up tomorrow. Well...unless you're here, on the Gold Coast, in which case it's understandable that you'd want to be out surfing yourself instead. As the sun set this evening, the whole stretch from Snapper to Rainbow to Greenmount to Snirra to Kirra - even the questionable "Coolangatta Beach" - was offshore and firing. It's supposed to be bigger by morning.

*Ace Buchan went upside down on a backhand, under the lip reo beneath 8 feet of nightmare end section. That may also have been the best turn of Round 4.

**LOTR reference. Nailed it.

This gallery is brought to you by surfingthemag.com

Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.24 def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 16.43
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.{{{90}}} def. Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.90
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.90 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.40
Heat 4: Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.30 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.50
Heat 5: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.16 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.93
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.10 def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.00
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 17.00 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.23
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.33 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 11.33

QF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 4.37
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.53 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.00
QF 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.86 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 6.77
QF 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.40 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 14.00

SF 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)
SF 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)