Many of the stops on the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT) highlight tube masters and progressive standouts. But the conditions that have seen the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro run three rounds straight has allowed a new type of expert to emerge: The slab artist. Local trials winner Jay Davies (AUS) proved that if you don't know how to own The Box, The Box will own you.
Davies, who eliminated reigning World Champ Gabriel Medina (BRA) in Round 2, took down another giant in Round 3, toppling three-time World Champ and current rankings leader Mick Fanning (AUS). The dangerous wildcard earned a 9.50 after air-dropping into a double-overhead barrel. Displaying nuanced local knowledge, he navigated the inconsistent sections to stay behind the curtain until he could come out with the spit.
"That was just so fun, every bit of it," said Davies. "On that wave I just really had to forget about all the other heats I've surfed out here where I've pulled back and put my head down. It was the steepest take off and I just wanted to give it everything I had. I thought I was going to come off but luckily I didn't."
Several of the other surfers who successfully wrangled The Box in Round 3 featured surfers from the South Pacific, where open-ocean breaks are similar to Margaret River. In the first heat of the day, Tahitian Michel Bourez defeated Kai Otton (AUS). Two Hawaiians quickly followed up; John John Florence defeated Adam Melling (AUS) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW) ousted Joel Parkinson (AUS) in a big upset.
The Box got the best of almost everyone, but some more than others. Melling, for example, was crushed by the lip in his loss to Florence. But to win, the men had to do more than just survive.
NOTES FROM ROUND 3: South African Jordy Smith has bowed out of competition with a knee injury he suffered during a freesurf. His withdrawal gave Jeremy Flores an automatic advance into non-elimination Round 4. -- With both Fanning and Filipe Toledo (BRA) eliminated, two surfers have a chance at the yellow jersey. Adriano de Souza (BRA) will claim the No. 1 spot if he advances to the Quarterfinals. If, however, he is eliminated in Round 5 and Julian Wilson (AUS) wins the event, Wilson will top the rankings. -- Kelly Slater (USA) scored the 2015 season's third perfect 10 and a near-perfect heat total of 19.50 in the final heat of Round 3.
See what else The Box has in store. Tune in to the Dawn Patrol Morning Show at 7 a.m. local time for the official call. Then watch the action unfold LIVE on worldsurfleague.com and the new WSL app.