Slouching Toward a World Title

EVENTS HELD: Heats 3-8 of Round 1 (Heats 1-2 were run yesterday)
CONDITIONS: 2-3 feet and tricky
NATURE’S CALL: Not looking at a real swell till Saturday
PREDICTIONS: May need the whole waiting period for this one.

“Where’s {{{Jimmy}}}?”

That was the question on every pro’s lips as time ticked down on Heat 7 of Round 1 today and Mick Fanning padded his already substantial lead over Yuri Sodre and Shaun Cansdell. “Kelly Slater, please check in for your heat,” said beach announcer Nuno Jonet in Portuguese accent English. The pros kept looking back thinking they were going to see Kelly making one of his trademark late entrances, but as the horn blew and {{{CJ}}} Hobgood and Hodei Collazo hit the water, Slates was nowhere in sight.

And where was he? Truth was he wasn’t even in the country. He stayed in France last night, then woke up early and got online to watch the webcast. Seeing 2-3 foot warbley dribblers on a fast incoming tide make him think that only 2 or 3 heats would be run. (Mike Parsons was only able to get off two yesterday before the tide swamped it.)

But Mundaka is one the most unpredictable waves in the world and weird winds make it even tougher to figure out. Last night a crazy hot sirocco blew in from Africa at 120 knots and was followed by heavy rainsqualls. The nearshore gale kicked up a short period windswell that seemed to like the higher tide. As the surf picked up and heats kept running, Slater, two hours away, ran out of time. The die had been cast. He could only wait and hope that the contest would be called off before his heat. Thing is, this almost happened. Fanning’s heat had tons of waves, but the next one (Kelly’s) went virtually flat. It was so bad that CJ Hobgood had to work hard to get two fives to take out Spanish wildcard Collazo. During that heat the rest of the round was promptly put on hold. (Right now we’re on hold till 4pm local time, stay tuned for updates.)