Read the previous reports from the Quiksilver Pro Australia here.
"The pubs'll be dangerous tonight."Mick Fanning
The stage was set for the ultimate Cinderella story. Bede Durbidge had already proven he was fairy tale worthy by winning at Trestles last September. Remember that one? Bede didn't qualify but got the spot because Richie Lovett developed cancer and had to give his up. Lovett was then on hand to see Durbidge come of out nowhere get his first win at the same place that Lovett had his biggest professional triumph. Yeah, that one, good story, right? Well imagine today. Durbidge, despite posting a win and a #15 2006 year-end rating, lost his major sponsor. Faced with a mortgage bill and figuring out how to pay his own way around the world, he came into this event with a major chip on his shoulder.
Adversity often breeds strength and Bede looked strong in this contest all the way through. He won his first round heat then smoked Luke Stedman and Kai Otton before combo-ing, yes, combo-ing local and former champ, Joel Parkinson who many thought would win here. Then he came up against Kelly Slater.
But before we get to that, let's rewind to the quarterfinal match-up of Mick Fanning and Josh Kerr. The waves this morning were average - a little too big and high tide for the bank to properly fire. But Mick had a feeling. "Let's just take a little break before the quarters," he told contest director Rod Brooks while watching the pros struggle during Round 4. "I bet it gets really good."
Boy, did it ever. Mick's heat in the quarters was the stuff of legend. In the first eight minutes Kerr got two hell barrels off the rock and took a massive lead 19.11-11.5. Fanning was combe-ed, hopelessly so it seemed. But this is his spot and getting the heavy ones behind the rock is his bread and butter. He came back with a pair of hell barrels and took the lead. Unbelievable. The largest comeback in ASP history.
With 15 seconds to go, Kerr found a smaller one. It looked hopeless, there was nothing he could do on this wave that would give him the 9.6 he needed. Nothing, except well, wait a minute, what the hell was that thing he just did on the inside? That crazy, upside down, under the lip reverse where the entire front half of his board was submerged as he came back around? The surfers in the backstage area gathered around the plasma for the replay. Oh my god, it looked even nuttier on video. Calls cried out for tens. It was only one maneuver, but as Toby Martin put it, "That's the best turn I've ever seen anyone do."
The judges gave it an 8.67. Fair according to the criteria. Today was all about barrels – not last ditch maneuvers on a closeout section. But what about innovation and degree of difficulty? Isn't what Kerr did more dynamic and harder than pulling into and coming out of a perfect barrel?