Billabong Pipeline Masters: Day Three

EVENTS HELD: Men's Round Three
CONDITIONS: Four feet and borderline "sandbar" surf
NATURE'S CALL: I've done this to you before, and I'll do it to you again
PREDICTIONS: Oc singing karaoke tonight…maybe naked

And so we move on. In case you weren't aware, the three stages of a potentially epic ASP event with a doomed forecast is 1) Anger (see Sunny and Neco, Day One), 2) Denial (See Kai Otton, Day Two) and 3) ….acceptance. No matter what day we hold it or what format we create, a good remainder of this event will likely be either at the Ehukai sandbar or Off the Wall or a combination of all three. In other words: the Pipe we know and love ain't happening this year.

The boys know it. Contest organizers know it. Even lookie-loos from the Midwest know it. So now, the only thing we can do is suck it up and move on. Fly in the face of 30-mile-an-hour trades, watch the guys pull out their weighted shortboards and give it a go. "It's not going to change in the next week," said Josh Kerr, who has indeed confirmed his temporary retirement from the ASP regardless of how he finishes in this event. "So we might as well get it over with."

We also need to move on despite the tour losing everyone's favorite 41-year-old, Mark Occhilupo. Despite announcing his retirement two years ago, The Oc surfed his last official heat today against fellow countryman Troy Brooks. He lost a close one in the last minute, stepped on to the beach and immediately got the big bear hug from longtime travel partner Luke Egan while the rest of the crew moved in. Taj and Luke then did the chairing honors up the beach, as a dozen or more tour-mates donned "Legends never die" shirts and posed for the photo ops. "More than the world title, the event wins and the Pipe Masters title," said Oc, "is the camaraderie I built with all my mates on tour. That's the stuff that really lasts."

A few notables are looking to keep that world-tour bonding going at least another year with do-or-die victories in Round Three. Fred Patacchia Jr., currently sitting in 33rd and needing at least a quarterfinal finish to make the cut, felt his blood pressure rise when he saw he had 2004 Pipe Master Jamie O. "I was stressing hard," said Freddy P. "Especially because of the conditions. You're not really in control of your own destiny when it's like it is. But I buckled down – kind of bummed I had to resort to some tactics – but I did what I had to do."

The "tactics" he's referring to involved a five-minute sit on O'Brien while holding priority until, in the dying seconds, they took off on the same wave together as O'Brien monkey-manned it. "I'm already entered in the QSes for next year," said Patacchia. "So I'm ready for whatever. But I'm mainly ready to do well in this contest and see what happens from there."

Other survival stories: Wardo, sitting on the bubble lived to shred another day with another solid run over Gavin Gillette. Now the real challenge starts with Bruce Irons in Round Four, who also needs to do well to qualify. Our prediction? Even sandbar surf isn't going to stop Bruce at Pipe.

The best heat of the day was with another survivor, Phil MacDonald, currently rated 29th, and Pipe guru Flynn Novak. Flynn had every intention of winning the heat, and racked up one of the higher scores of the day with a 9.3 Backdoor doggy-door. But maybe pulling a "never say die" page of inspiration from the Oc, Macca clawed back with a high 8 of his own for the score in the dying seconds. Novak: shock. Macca: relief.

Or was it acceptance? With one full day of competition left, the forecast dim and at least a half-dozen WCT careers in the balance, there's no better way to look at it. Whatever happens, happens.

Round 3 Results:
{{{H1}}}: Kelly Slater (FL) 15.17 dft Mikey Bruneau (HI) 6.1
{{{H2}}}: Dayyan Neve (Aus) 17.43 dft Victor Ribas (Brz) 6.{{{57}}}
{{{H3}}}: Taj Burrow (Aus) 15.6 dft Roy Powers (Hi) 13.5
H4: Troy Brooks (Aus) 9.94 dft Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 8.93
H5: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 8.5 dft David Wassell (HI) 3.56
H6: Bernardo Miranda (Brz) 7.16 dft Tim Reyes (CA) 7.1
H7: Ian Walsh (HI) 13.67 dft Bobby Martinez (CA) 10.93
H8: TJ Barron (HI) 13.34 dft Raoni Monteiro (Brz) 5.17
H9: Kai Otton (Aus) 15.5 dft Myles Padaca (HI) 4.9
H10: Fred Patacchia (HI) 11.33 dft Jamie O’Brien (HI) 10.1
H11: {{{CJ}}} Hobgood (FL) 12.34 dft Makuakai Rothman (HI) 4.67
H12: Chris Ward (CA) 12.5 dft Gavin Gillette (HI) 8.9
H13: Mikala Jones (HI) 10.0 dft Mick Campbell (Aus) 5.47
H14: Phillip MacDonald (Aus) 16.67 dft Flynn Novak (HI) 15.33
H15: Gavin Beschen (HI) 13.33 dft Adriano de Souza (Brz) 8.33
H16: Rodrigo Dornelles (Brz) 11.67 dft Danny Fuller (HI) 6.77[Car Rentals provided by Advantage Rent A Car.

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