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SURF:Overhead to Mucho Grande

EVENTS RUN: Remainder of Round 3, and all of Round 4

NATURE’S CALL: I’ll give you something to complain about.

PREDICTED: Teamriders boarding the Arc two-by-two.

“What’s going on out there?” Shane Beschen, commentator to the pros (and previously a viable threat in this competition), is the first to notice. “Something’s definitely wrong!” Out in the water, second heat of the day, Kalani Robb has just exited a long, slabby tube ride and, where he should be hitting the open lip to secure an already solid score, instead he’s just cruising along, just standing there.

Twenty yards down the line, still no turn, it’s obvious something’s wrong. But what ISN’T wrong? Torrential rains, howling winds, massive tides, insane rips… the Mundaka sanbar’s nearly dry and the chunky swell is hammering foam-bombs into the parallel rips cranking seaward. K-Robb straightens out and falls while two Jet Skis race to assist him; one driver leaps overboard and his Ski is washed toward shore. Kalani grabs the other, but has trouble gaining the platform and unleashing his leash. Miraculously, the rip grabs the loose Ski, turns it around and hauls it back to the swimming rescuer, the judges give Kalani an 8.6 and he wins the heat despite having dislocated his shoulder inside the beefy dumper.

Welcome to the Mundaka Pro, where all’s well that ends, well, because the waiting period is up.

It wasn’t a very social day. The rains never let up. It just dumped and dumped and dumped and there was virutally no where to hide. Still, the diehard Spanish fans remained out in force, and the boys turned out a solid performance in the burly conditions.

Andy Irons managed his heat like a Special Ops Mission: appearing suddenly out of nowhere, dispatching his target (Cory Lopez) with deadly precision and then disappearing as quickly and silently as he came. With three heats between him and an early world title, he’s focused now. Very focused. But here’s the beauty of AI’s domination this year: his surfing forces the best out of his opponents. You can’t beat him without going huge. So Cory went huge, attempting maneuvers well above par for the Mundaka course, and although Andy still comboed him, it was the fans who really won (unless of course they have to stand in the friggin’rain all day to see it, boo-hoo). AI will face Damien Hobgood tomorrow, who having dispatched Darren O’Rafferty and Raoni Monteiro in previous heats, shows no signs of slowing down.

Clearly Andy’s biggest thereat here though is fellow Bong rider Joel Parkinson. Easy-going Parko, who plays full-time dad between heats, comboed both Nathan Webster and Richie Lovett today without seeming to break a sweat. He lays down big scores — like Andy, combining huge hits with long tube-rides — then builds on them througout the heat. No more early paddle-ins for Parko, it’s now or never for him to threaten Andy’s title, and with Taj Burrow standing in his path, he’s getting deadly serious too. The rain broke for just a moment during Parko’s second heat. A double rainbow appeared over the lineup, and for a moment it was like, hey, maybe there’s hope after all…

And then, nope, bloody hell, the rain came down in redoubled buckets. A slightly more timid-looking Kalani Robb got Jet Skied back out to the lineup for the final heat of the day, where Luke Egan handed him his plane ticket home with some huge buckets o’spray to keep him hydrated on the journey.

DeanO and McPhil. DamO and Andy. Rosa and Egan. Taj and Parko. Two by two they’re lining up in the apocalyptic downpour to board the Arc that will sail us away from this soggy nightmare. And as the final horn of the day blared, a 50-foot drunken gorilla climbed to the top of the judging tower and roared at the pissing sky (oh wait, that’s just Gary Elkerton). And the LoudSpeaker said it was good. Stay tuned. And Amen.— Nathan Myers

Todays Results:

Billabong Pro Mundaka Round Three Heats (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,225)
H10: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 14.33 def. Pat O’Connell (USA) 8.36
H11: Luke Egan (AUS) 13.83 def. Neco Padaratz (BRA) 10.94
H12: Kalani Robb (HAW) 15.5 def. Michael Lowe (AUS) 14.17
H13: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.17 def. Nathan Webster (AUS) 7.4
H14: Richard Lovett (AUS) 15.74 def. Lee Winkler (AUS) 15.67
H15: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.5 def. Troy Brooks (AUS) 11.5
H16: Daniel Wills (AUS) 16.43 def. Victor Ribas (BRA) 11.5

Round Four (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
{{{H1}}}: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 16.67 def. Dean Morrison (AUS) 12.5
{{{H2}}}: Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 14.97 def. Trent Munro (AUS) 7.0
{{{H3}}}: Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.16 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 6.4
H4: Andy Irons (HAW) 17.34 def. Cory Lopez (USA) 14.16
H5: Peterson Rosa (BRA) 13.33 def. Shane Beschen (USA) 10.16
H7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.06 def. Richard Lovett (AUS) 13.56
H8: Taj Burrow (AUS) 14.17 def. Daniel Wills (AUS) 13.5
H6: Luke Egan (AUS) 14.23 def. Kalani Robb (HAW) 9.23

Upcoming Quarter-Final Heats:
Quarter-final #1: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Quarter-final #2: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Andy Irons (HAW)
Quarter-final #3: Peterson Rosa (BRA) vs. Luke Egan (AUS)
Quarter-final #4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)

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