The Grind: The ‘CT Goes to Work in Round 2

CONDITIONS: 3-4 feet. Fairly clean all day.
NATURE’S CALL: Could be on tomorrow, could be not.
PREDICTIONS: Don’t count on any more major upsets in Round 3.

Round 1 of WCT contests are fun. No one loses and the surfers get a chance to warm up without having to deal with a crowd. But, for those unlucky enough not to win their first round heats, Round 2 is no fun at all. It’s work, plain and simple. And it’s serious.

No one was more serious today than Mick Fanning. His drunken alter ego Eugene was nowhere to be seen last night at the Surfer Poll awards because Mick knew he was going to have to surf in heat one against Video of the Year winner, Dane Reynolds. It wasn’t close. Mick’s just too much of a professional these days for a guy with an uneven contest act. Oh well, at least it was entertaining – Dane’s nearly made rodeo sure was anyway. “The kid was still doing flips on me,” said Mick, who looked like he had just dodged a bullet.

Timmy Reyes and Chris Ward were serious too. Timmy had a battle against Rob Machado and with stiffness so bad in his hip that he could barely walk, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Timmy’s a battler, though, and he’s having a great year. He took down the Mob convincingly with the most balanced, polished attack of the day. “I couldn’t have had a better heat,” he said afterward.

Then there’s Wardo. He’s another freesurfer extraordinaire who often looks straight-jacketed in a jersey. After watching others of his ilk, Dane, Jamie O’Brien, Cory Lopez, go down, Wardo dug deep for this one. Despite dealing with nagging injuries to his knee and both ankles, he looked loose and comfortable at his old friend the T — effortless airs, long lazy cutbacks, rhythmic snaps. It’s been a tough road for him since he burst onto tour for a 2nd place finish on the Gold Coast in 2005. His body has let him down, but he’s looking for a bright new day. “I want to build strength in my leg,” he said. “I’m riding the bike a lot and getting my endurance up. Hopefully I can get a good result here and get back on track.”

Other grinders today were Fred Patacchia and Trent Munro. Both are struggling to find the world beating form they showed last year, but today they were on. They surfed during the midday high tide that favored the lefts, which in turn, favored them. Fred smashed Miky Picon with an attack that was equal parts power and progression while backside wonder Munners who has a torque-ing Occy-esque bottom turn on lefts that must be seen to be believed, destroyed David Weare.

But the trials of Round 2 wouldn’t be complete without a couple of shock upsets. Today they dealt to {{{CJ}}} Hobgood and Bruce Irons who went down to Toby Martin and Adrian Buchan. Both Aussies are largely unknowns who’ve been hampered with injuries. Toby’s only won a single heat this year while Buchan was making his debut performance after qualifying through ‘QS last year.

But, if they though today was a grind, wait till next round where they face Andy and Kelly. Ouch. Adding insult to injury is never any fun.