Wright Stuff

Owen Wright

Conditions: What we came for
Events Held: Mens Round 2 Heats 1-12
Nature's Call: Flopey: fast yet slopey, an adjective tailor-made for Bells
Prediction: Something Parknox this way comes

What do Kelly Slater and Catholic priests have in common?

They keep getting outed by cute little boys.

Round 2 was a concert in diminuendo - growing gradually softer - because the conditions and heat draw were heavily stacked toward the early side. Cymbals crashed Knox! Parkinson! Fanning! Bobby! Jordy! Kelly! in consecutive heats. The Bowl opened just as loud at 6-8 feet and offshore, but it was still Bells and hence near-impossible to surf (the place is perfect in its wrongness, like a Picasso portrait of good waves).

Kelly, in the eighth heat, entered the water completely relaxed, but he had little to gain and much to lose because…

1. He wasn't riding a Wizard Sleeve, so a win today wouldn't vindicate the iffy craft. The Kelly/Wizard Sleeve relationship is a bit one-sided, a bit abusive, a bit Lindsay Lohan/Samantha Ronson if you will (please don't). Kelly rode the same 5'10" Channel Islands Tangent he used on tour (quite successfully) in 2008.

2. Kelly's been counting world titles since Owen's had teeth in his mouth. If he'd won today, Yawn. Grow some hair already.

3. By advancing, Kelly would have drawn Jordy Smith in the next round, merely inviting another set of "Young Gun Smokes Champ" headlines if he stumbled. Kelly faced a thankless draw as the heat got underway.

"He just mounted that wave and f--kin' dropped 'bows on it," said Kekoa Bacalso (Hawaiians speak MMA now). "That was a ten if he came out."

He could have been talking about either Kelly's 7.67 or Owen's 7.00, both punctuated by failed cover-ups. Actually, Kelly got tubed twice on his.

"How do you get two barrels at Bells?!" asked {{{CJ}}} Hobgood rhetorically. But the second exit was botched and Kelly's turns lacked drive. Owen surfed just as he did against Dane Reynolds: textbook backhand, neither safe nor flashy, refusing to fall off - and just like Dane, Kelly failed to step up for the win. He now sits on two 17ths to start the year.

The competitors' area quietly swallowed Slater's loss. There were no shouts of elation, just an exchange of looks that said "Well, that's interesting." Perhaps he doesn't inspire the same bitterness that he used to; perhaps he's not invincible. There was no awkward silence when he entered the small room, stood near the back with two handlers, and analyzed his performance.

"That f--kin' second barrel pinched me right at the end. What if I stayed in longer and tried to doggy door it?"

Perturbed, but not melting down, and almost instantly calm again. He changed out of his suit, sipped a coke, and stayed in the faintly hostile competitors' area watching heats. He discussed his AT&T bill. He didn't appear rattled or angry. "I'll bet you see him at Chopes," is all one of his confidants would tell me about the future.

Kelly was today's top story, but not today's top surfer. Joel and Mick were doing "Lower Trestles" while everyone else was more "small Sunset Beach." Taylor Knox continued to remind of what a carve looks like. Kai Otton, Bobby and CJ kept hope alive for the screwfoots. {{{Focus}}} now shifts back to the event, which looks good to end on Thursday – but what about Kelly's year? When will that end? What about his career?

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Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.00 def. Mick Campbell (AUS) 11.00
Heat 2: Taylor Knox (USA) 16.93 def. Chris Ward (USA) 10.67
Heat 3: Kai Otton (AUS) 12.67 def. Dayyan Neve (AUS) 12.50
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.76 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.66
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.16 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 15.27
Heat 6: Bobby Martinez (USA) 16.40 def. Tim Boal (FRA) 12.50
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.00 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 12.17
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.67 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.83
Heat 9: Adam Robertson (AUS) 16.10 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.84
Heat 10: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 12.{{{57}}} def. Jihad Khodr (BRA) 9.67
Heat 11: Drew Courtney (AUS) 16.07 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.60
Heat 12: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 15.60 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.47

Heat 13: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Jay Thompson (AUS)
Heat 14: Tim Reyes (USA) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 15: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 16: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. David Weare (ZAF)

Heat 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 2: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 5: Adam Robertson (AUS) vs. Tom Whitaker (AUS)
Heat 6: Drew Courtney (AUS) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
Heat 7: TBA
Heat 8: TBA