Italo Ferreira is back in classic form and possibly career-best form. The goofyfooter from Brazil earned a 17.86 heat total this morning in Heat 3 of the Quarterfinals, eliminating Ezekiel Lau from the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. If Ferreira wins the event, he will become the second-ever Brazilian to ring the Bell (Silvana Lima being the first).
"I'm trying not to get ahead of myself," said Ferreira. "I'm just going heat by heat. I found some good waves in that last one. I'm excited. My board is working good. I'm feeling good."
The Brazilian kicked off the Quarterfinal clash with an 8.83, taking an early lead against Lau with a series of critical turns. Lau was unable to match Ferreira -- earning a 4.67 on his first scoring wave.
But Ferreira didn't slow down there. He earned a 9.03 to back up his previous score, which is the highest scoring wave of the men's event so far. With the new judging system, athletes are struggling to score into the excellent range but not Ferreira. Not only did he earn the highest single wave score but he also earned the highest heat total of the year so far. The Brazilian grew up surfing a tight right-hand pointbreak -- making his quick transitions look seamless. If his Quarterfinal heat today is any indication of what his year will look like, Ferreira could be in World Title contention.
After landing a massive maneuver on his last wave, the Brazilian was feeling it -- throwing up his hands for the claim. Ferreira will be facing fellow Brazilian Gabriel Medina in Heat 3 of the Quarterfinals.