Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Day 3

Surf: Three foot semi-Superbank, clean
Events Held: Quiksilver Pro round three heats 1-10
Nature’s Call: I told you guys it was now or never!
Predicted: Small bump in swell for the next day and a half – just enough.

Been wondering what those grossly cosseted surf superstars have been doing with their time since Christmas? Well let us be the first to tell ya – they’ve been TRAINING.

We’ve been hearing all sorts of appalling rumors. Joel Parkinson seeing a psychologist. Mick Fanning so flexible he’s able to eat dinner off a plate balanced on the underside of his left foot. Taj Burrow holding his breath underwater longer than a dolphin. And ten heats of the Quik Pro round three today was enough to convince us it’s all true. Rarely has SURFING magazine seen so many top-gun pros in such good form.

A floppy two-foot dribble converted through the day into three to four feet of spring-loaded semi-Superbank, and boom! Off they went: Bede Durbidge, Parko, Dean “Dingo” Morrison, Jordy Smith, Fanning, Burrow, all hurtling off into supersurfing world, with the judges throwing nines, and the {{{4000}}}-strong crowd – mostly Brazilians on student visas – sweating their heads off on the hot summer Gold Coast sands.

We could just leave it there, really – post the above, and wander off to drink about a million Sunday afternoon Coronas with the rest of the idiots in the Rainbow Bay Surf Club bar. But no. Let’s at least have a look at how the wunderkind rookies, Dane Reynolds and Mr. Smith, loaded up in the real deal first time round.

First up, Dane versus Dingo. Surfing magazine ran into Reynolds at Duranbah yesterday, between surfs with about 400 of our best buddies, and was frankly shocked. Why hadn’t we been warned about his moustache? Shave it off, we say, THIS INSTANT. Dane looks supremely unconcerned in WCT company as far as talent goes. But as was demonstrated today, he’s too reliant on that talent, and in this company, talent only goes so far. It made Dane a stalking horse for Dingo, who used the young Californian’s stellar free-surfing rap to push his own performance up a coupla notches – while suckering Dane into sub-standard waves.

That’s where you see the difference between he and Jordy Smith: contest time, experience, hunger. Jordy started off his heat against Bobby Martinez with a rail-gag behind the foam. Within a minute he’d caught another wave – not a great one, but with some good moves – and your correspondent twigged: he’s re-setting the computer. Sure enough, wave number three was the best of the day so far, seven different types of turn in a row, none repeated. And his sixth was the best of the event, again so far: surfed from behind the pocket and set just right every time.

Then it was Mick Fanning, showing his buddies just why he’s world champion, digging way into the variety box and blowing out an 8.5 and 9-plus of his own. Local status on a day like this can cut either way, but for Mick, it only cuts the right way. “Everyone else is trying to find a wave like this to practice on,” he reckoned, “but we don’t have to go anywhere. Live here; surf; sleep in our own beds. Just cruise, really.”

Jeez that top half of the draw is loaded.

Who’s a threat from the other side? Taj is. Holy crap. Last year, everyone was like “Yeah, Taj is going for the title”, and he was smiling and nodding. This year he looks like a surfer who might actually do it – strong, swift, sharp, not losing his way in flighty yet ultimately doomed lip moves, and squeezing the most out of that little Firey thing under his feet.

Maybe AI is too, and maybe Kelly; but we won’t know till tomorrow, because a soft 10 minutes during Ace Buchan vs Bruce Irons caused the event to be called for the day, leaving Slater’s heat, number 12, to be decided. Within five minutes ol’ Baldy was outside the Snapper rock itself, waiting for a set. “I thought I’d get a few waves by myself,” he grinned later, “but like 30 seconds after I got out, there were seven groms surrounding me.” And at Snapper, groms don’t care how many world titles you’ve won – they’ll drop in anyway.

Joel Parkinson

(1st advances to Round 4; 2nd finishes =17th)
Heat #1: Bede Durbidge def. Kieren Perrow
Heat #2: Ben Dunn def. Tom Whitaker
Heat #3: Taylor Knox def. Dayyan Neve
Heat #4: Joel Parkinson def. Roy Powers
Heat #5: Dean Morrison def. Dane Reynolds
Heat #6: Jordy Smith def. Bobby Martinez
Heat #7: Leonardo Neves def. Neco Padaratz
Heat #8: Mick Fanning def. Julian Wilson
Heat #9: Taj Burrow def. Mikael Picon
Heat #10: Adrian Buchan def. Bruce Irons

Heat #11: Jeremy Flores v. Jay Thompson
Heat #12: {{{CJ}}} Hobgood v. Tim Reyes
Heat #13: Kelly Slater v. Heitor Alves
Heat #14: Luke Stedman v. Adriano de Souza
Heat #15: Andy Irons v. Ben Bourgeois
Heat #16: Kai Otton v. Luke Munro