When Round 2 resumed at the Fiji Pro, solid swell made for busy heats and brought some big surprises. Top among them was when wildcard Dane Reynolds -- who hasn't competed full-time in years -- eliminated Adriano de Souza (BRA), World No. 1, in Round 3. Reynolds' ousting of the Jeep rankings leader wasn't long after he took down Josh Kerr (AUS), ranked World No. 4, in Round 2.
Blame it, in part, on fantastic conditions. Cloudbreak offered hollow barrel sections and big scoring opportunities, and saw the Top 34 earn seven nine-point scores during the second day of competition. The high numbers highlighted the type of performances that can unfold when the ocean fires up.
Five of those big scores came in the second half of Round 2. Most of the remaining top seeds in that round won in dominant fashion: Julian Wilson (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Kolohe Andino (USA) all broke into the nine-point range for deep tubes, with the Aussies finding double barrels on their rides. Rookie Ricardo Christie (NZL) earned a nine-pointer too, but was eliminated by Flores nonetheless.
Adam Melling (AUS) was one of three lower-seeded surfers -- designated by blue jerseys -- who made it out of Round 2. After a solid Round 1 showing, Melling continued to pick apart the lineup in Round 2, earning three consecutive excellent-range scores to eliminate fellow Aussie Matt Wilkinson. He extended his head-to-head record over Wilkinson to 4-1.
"That first wave kinda set me up for the rest of the heat," Melling said. "I do a fair bit of fitness training at home and it's paying off I guess."
As Round 3 began wave heights began to drop, but Tour veterans were able to find the high lines to victory. Eleven-time World Champion and four-time Fiji winner Kelly Slater (USA) continued to impress, making his way out of narrow tubes and earning a near-perfect score in his triumph over Hawaiian Freddy Patacchia.
"It's been a really bad start for me this year," Slater said. "I've been rushing a few things this year when it hasn't been going my way and it's obviously shown. Fiji is definitely a comfortable place for me and I've felt like I've been clicking through the last two heats."
Yellow Jersey Watch: Reynolds' nine-point ride in Round 3, in the last heat of the day, was the nail in the coffin for De Souza, the rankings leader. With De Souza out of the contest, the door is open for World No. 2 Filipe Toledo (BRA) and World No. 3 Mick Fanning (AUS) to take the yellow jersey away from him.
Fanning will compete in the first heat when competition continues, Round 3 Heat 7. Tune in to Dawn Patrol LIVE here or on the WSL app.
Quote of the Day: "I lost you, me and Freddy on my fantasy team today. It was a bad day." - Miguel Pupo to C.J. Hobgood