A priest, a rabbi and Barton Lynch walk into a bar…stop me if you've heard this one. OK, that joke doesn't actually exist, but if that ever did happen, the two people of the cloth would be instant B.L. converters. Barton Lynch is a prophet.
What's not a joke is how, after today's proceedings, four World Champs, a rookie, an injury wildcard and two goofyfooters are walking into the Quarterfinals at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
Continuing the trend of the Championship Tour's (CT) big batch of former World Champs dominating -- plus, an emerging trend of goofyfooters advancing at Snapper (five of eight are still in the comp) -- let's take a look at the biggest developing stories.
Also, while you're reading this, imagine that Barton Lynch is narrating. Chicken soup for the soul.
First is Owen Wright. This time last year, he was watching from the stands as his sister, Tyler, was winning the Roxy Pro Gold Coast for the first time. At the time, he was likely wondering what the future held for his own pro surfing career. Wright was still only a few months removed from a serious head injury, suffering from intense concussion-like symptoms, diagnosed as blood on the brain after he got rolled by a second reef set at Pipeline.
But today? The rangey bloke was using his precise, vertical backhand attack to take down Snapper local and 3x World Champ Mick Fanning in Round 3. It's a storybook ride for Wright so far, and one that's unfolding before an audience eager for more magic.
"I think Mick and I really wanted that battle," said Wright. "You could see us going wave for wave, but when the heat was over we were best mates again. We just love competing, you know?
"For 11 months last year, it was a roller coaster for me. But from last November onwards, things really started to click," he continued. "I got my head right and realized all the beautiful things in my life: my little baby boy, my partner, my sister Tyler winning the Title; just so many good things happened, you know?"
Owen went on to beat Conner Coffin in Round Five, too, so make that another good thing. Hello, Quarterfinals.
The next huge story is the amazing arrival of rookie Connor O'Leary. The very first rookie of the 2017 CT season to advance into the Quarters, there are a lot of layers to that feat.
One is that just last year the kid was working at a surf shop (between grinding on the Qualifying Series), probably streaming this very event on the television while selling someone a deckpad. Two, O'Leary took down event favorite and perennial World Title contender Julian Wilson in the process. Quickly emerging as a deadly threat to the Tour vets, Connor just seems thankful for the career transition from surf shop salesman to CT competitor.
"As far as being a rookie and satisfied with my performance so far, it's hard not to be with how pumping the waves are," he said. "It's perfect Snapper with one guy out and priority, you couldn't ask for more!"
Lastly is the continuing battle among the World Champs. John John Florence, Kelly Slater, Gabriel Medina and Joel Parkinson all advanced, and each in their respectively brilliant fashions.
There'd been a question about Gabriel Medina's knee, which he tweaked trying a rodeo a couple days prior, but, well, there's no question now. Medina had a near-perfect heat in Round Three (with a 19-point total) and his backhand looks absolutely flawless. Medina's definitely looking like the man to beat this event -- an event that, by the way, he won in 2014. The same year he won his World Title.
Joel Parkinson, meanwhile, is continuing his renaissance run, styling through each heat like he was a kid again. Kelly Slater is also in full-effort mode, as he proclaimed he would at the start of the season. Making sense of the windy, tricky afternoon Round Five heat against Title contender Jordy Smith, Slater looks engaged and hungry for his first CT win of 2017.
"I was a little out of sync the first two heats; I wasn't really getting the pick of the litter," he said. "Even on my best wave, I felt like I didn't push it and that was the wave to do it. But I didn't need to be too greedy or push it too hard, though. You never need to win a heat by comboing the guy, you just gotta win by .01."
Now didn't that sound so much better in Barton Lynch's soothing Aussie drawl?