Victoria At Sea

Conditions: 3-5 feet, offshore with a vengeance
Events Held: Last four heats of Round 2, all of Round 3
Nature's Call: Victoria at Sea
Prediction: J's all the way: {{{CJ}}}, Joel, Jordy or EuJene

The waiting period is 83% gone, but for Taj Burrow, Timmy Reyes, Ace Buchan and Fred Patacchia, the contest just finally began this morning. What they might otherwise have done with the past nine days is a mystery - contract an infection, read a book, crash a car; irrelevant. Each surfed his first heat at Bells this morning, and only Fred would get to surf again. This is the long way to lose.

Ace's pain is temporary; he's off to Tavarua and a dose of geographic Vicodin. Timmy will stick around for 10 days and chase swell, then return to California for Tahiti preparations. Taj will probably ice his hand; post-loss, he affably signed t-shirts, jogged to the competitors' area, said "F--k" and punched the wall. Unlike a newborn drug-baby, Taj could only blame himself for exiting prematurely. ASP Head Judge Perry Hatchett reckoned wave choice was the problem.

"Taj always does that, he panics and goes for two-footers. If he'd just waited, the heat would have been a restart," he said, referring to the ASP's rule that - if no waves are ridden in the first half of a heat - officials can elect to stop the clock and start over. 17th for Taj. As one competitor put it, "That's what happens when you have a personal trainer instead of a coach.

CJ Hobgood, the only goofyfoot left in the Quarters besides Fred, had a Russian Roulette game with Taylor Knox - too soon, perhaps, considering the Specter verdict - but in any case Taylor is a half-loaded revolver. He'll either misfire with an empty *click* or paint the room red, pending wave selection and the influence of alter-ego Bonehead. How good is he? CJ watched Arc to psyche up for their heat this morning. If conditions ever called for a Knox victory, this was the week for it - but *click*.

"CJ beat him, and it took every ounce of surfing skill he had. It's so hard out there - you have to be firing on all cylinders, on a dream board, in the best shape of your life," said Hobgood handler Chris Gallagher. True; the offshore winds almost blew over a food stand, again, and made even the most average surfing a feat against nature. After Mick and Joel both took down their heats predictably, nature won the battle, and the event was moved around the bend to Winkipop to escape a high tide. The first match-up to run on the much-improved Winki rights was Owen Wright vs. Jordy Smith.

Owen knew he had a monster under the bed with Jordy. He'd slipped past Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater because neither remembered their lucky underpants, or some such fluky detail - not because Owen's the Last night, after a day that included three radio interviews and six photo-shoots, he was the first to admit this.

"I surfed alright [against Dane and Kelly], but nothing special. Just sort of surfing within myself. I'll have to push it with Jordy. If he goes mental, he'll win."

It's hard to say just how Jordy performed, relative to Fanning et al, because his stage at Winkipop was infinitely better than their "Lord, kill me now" Bells bowl. But "going mental" is a fair assessment. Like Parko, Jordy can bury his rail through {{{200}}} without losing speed, and he soon left Owen wondering how many backhand floaters make a 9.67. This is the World Tour, so the answer is None. "I'll need to push it with Jordy," he'd said, but never did.

Seven heats remain until the Bell rings, and the town of Torquay goes back underground. But before then, probably around noon Victoria time (4/6/9 o'clock in Hawaii and the West/East coasts, respectively), there's a Final guaranteed to feature Mick, Joel, Jordy or CJ - all proven specialists here. And that's just from the top half of the draw. The taxes are already late; relax and log on: for the webcast, for everything else.

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Heat 13: Jay Thompson (AUS) 15.84 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.83
Heat 14: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 16.56 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 10.84
Heat 15: Dean Morrison (AUS) 13.50 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 6.13
Heat 16: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.50 def. David Weare (ZAF) 10.50

Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.17 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 13.00
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.{{{57}}} def. Kai Otton (AUS) 9.63
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.26 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 3.43
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.84 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 13.67
Heat 5: Adam Robertson (AUS) 15.50 def. Tom Whitaker (AUS) 13.13
Heat 6: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 17.34 def. Drew Courtney (AUS) 11.17
Heat 7: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.50 def. Jay Thompson (AUS) 9.00
Heat 8: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 17.57 def. Dean Morrison (AUS)

QF 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
QF 3: Adam Robertson (AUS) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
QF 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)