Billabong Pro Mundaka – Round 3 Update

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SURF: Head high to well overhead, and weird.
EVENTS RUN: Round 4, Heats 1-9
NATURE’S CALL: You don’t love me anymore, do you? Do you?
PREDICTED: Big and funky waves; surfers flying home on standby.

Is it over yet?

That’s pretty much the overwhelming sentiment going into the final days of the Billabong Pro Mundaka waiting period. After almost two weeks of suffering the start-and-stop, on-and-off conditions of this tempermental surfbreak in this old-world, one-horse town, lots of guys are wishing they could just have taken an equal 33rd (if only they could afford to). Meanwhile, Andy Irons – who, along with his girlfriend Lindy, has been strolling about his sponsor’s event like king and queen of the prom – stands on the brink of virtually sealing the deal on his third world title. Having held a commanding lead throughout the year, a quick bout of tour math reveals that if Irons wins this event, potential title chasers Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater and (maaaaaybe) {{{CJ}}} Hobgood would not only have to take 2nd place here in Mundaka, but also win the remaining two events to threaten his title. With that in mind, as the predicted swell FINALLY began to show with only three days left in the waiting period (a short time, considering Mundaka’s fickle tidal issues), there were a lot of people wondering…

Is it over yet?

With a rising tide and rising swell, Trent Munro made short work of title chaser and multiple event winner CJ Hobgood, dousing his 2004 title hopes. While CJ and Trent maintained professional and civil attitudes towards the early round result, a certain elderly Spanish woman was absolutely through the roof regarding the heat. “Ayeii-yi-yi,” screamed Trent’s local hostess in broken English, “Champagne for dinner! No, no. Champagne for lunch!”

A few heats later, with tomorrow’s “massive” predicted swell beginning to make some serious promises, Andy Irons proved exactly why he’s the man to beat — or should we say, NOT BEAT — by keeping Armando Daltro comboed from start to finish of his heat with a solid and definitely worthy pair of 9’s. In burly, funked-out, lurch-and-burger conditions, AI proved just about the only competitor capable of more than just solid turns. Journalists everywhere were already starting to practice the phrase, “three-time world-champion… three-time world-champion…”

Next up: SIX-TIME world-champ Kelly Slater pitted against an event-focused Shane Beschen. While Slater had spent the week holed up in Hossegor,France to avoid the slow-and-go stagger of Mundaka’s head-fake starts, Beschen had been on-hand, warming up early, participating in the off-site expression session, and watching every heat of the day with a wave-by-wave analysis that prompted some competitors to suggest he head on up to the judging booth. Okay, the surf for the heat was total crap — prompting organizers to call the event off for the remainder of the day — but Besch proved that understanding conditions can make all the difference by claiming a solid victory over Slater in a heat where wave knowledge was everything. Slater admitted afterward to being anxious to get back to Florida, so, uh, off ya go.

Irons, who was overheard during the heat saying, “I definitely don’t want Slater to win this one,” was hooting and hollering over Beschen’s win, which virtually secures his world title win this year.

Or does it?

Hold on now… there’s still Joel Parkinson, who faces Nathan Webster in tomorrow’s continuation of Round Four, and who poses the last remaining threat to AI’s world title down payment. And what does Parko say about his chances: “Aw, you could flip a coin in these conditions, mate.” –Nathan Myers

Round Three Heat Results so far. (* denotes Heat completed)
*{{{H1}}}: Nathan Hedge (AUS) lost to Tom Whitaker (AUS)
*{{{H2}}}: Dean Morrison (AUS) beat Tim Curran (USA)
*{{{H3}}}: Taylor Knox (USA) lost to Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
*H4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) lost to Trent Munro(AUS)
*H5: Damien Hobgood (USA) beat Darren O’Rafferty (AUS)
*H6: Jake Paterson (AUS) lost to Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
*H7: Paulo Moura (BRA) lost to Cory Lopez (USA)
*H8: Andy Irons (HAW) beat Armando Daltro (BRA)
*H9: Kelly Slater (USA) lost to Shane Beschen (USA)
H10: Peterson Rosa (BRA) vs. Pat O’Connell (USA)
H11: Luke Egan (AUS) vs. Neco Padaratz (BRA)
H12: Michael Lowe (AUS) vs. Kalani Robb (HAW)
H13: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Nathan Webster(AUS)
H14: Lee Winkler (AUS) vs. Richie Lovett (AUS)
H15: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Troy Brooks (AUS)
H16: Daniel Wills (AUS) vs. Victor Ribas (BRA)

Click here for the Billabong Pro Mundaka Photo Gallery