KERAMAS, Bali/Indonesia (Tuesday, June 18, 2013) - Round 1 of the Oakley Pro Bali was completed today in rippable three-to-five foot (1 - 1.5 metre) waves at the primary venue of Keramas.
Event No. 5 of 10 on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the Oakley Pro Bali recommences this year's hunt for the elite ASP World Title and the new venue of Keramas delivered major upsets and mammoth scores throughout the opening 12 heats of the event.
Reigning ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS), 32, 11-time ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 1 Kelly Slater (USA), 41, as well as perennial threat Taj Burrow (AUS), 35, were all victims of close Round 1 losses today and have been relegated to the elimination Round 2 when competition resumes.
Fredrick Pataccchia (HAW), 31, took down the reigning champion this morning in a rare man-on-man Round 1 affair, with Travis Logie (ZAF), 34, unable to attend due to an injury sustained in Fiji - Logie will attempt to arrive in time for his Round 2 match. While Parkinson's patented power forehand approach was in full flight, it would be the Hawaiian's ferocious backhand attack on the Keramas walls that would take the win.
â€œI was happy that I had priority at the end, but priority can also be tough to choose which wave you want,â€ Patacchia said. â€œIt's a tough wave to surf, Keramas, and I think a lot of us are trying to figure it out. I lost early in Fiji, so I came here right away and have been putting time in and getting use to the waves here. Joel (Parkinson) is the ASP World Champion and a great surfer and we saw Adriano (de Souza) kind of struggling out there as well, so you know it's tough.â€
Damien Hobgood (USA), 33, current ASP WCT No. 28, caused another major upset today in eliminating fellow Floridian Slater.
"It was a strange heat and it's not often that Kelly (Slater) doesn't have the waves come for him," Hobgood said. "It was one of the slower ones of the morning and I just did my best to be on the better waves and surf smart. You take any win you can over Kelly."
Yadin Nicol (HAW), 27, replacement surfer for the elite ASP Top 34, was in sensational form this morning, taking out a high-flying Round 1 bout over Taj Burrow (AUS), 35, and Kolohe Andino (USA), 19. Nicol's aerial prowess and high-velocity surfing earned him the win and put the rest of the competitive field on notice.
â€œIt sucks sitting on the bubble because you never want anyone to get injured and you don't want to have to get their spot, but obviously you want to be in the events,â€ Nicol said. â€œI hope all of the inured surfers have a speedy recovery. I'm stoked I'm here though. That was a weird heat because I was rattled after that first exchange. Taj (Burrow) and Kolohe (Andino) are capable of getting huge scores and I was just happy to get a few waves of my own and make the heat.â€
Nicol advances directly into Round 3 of the event.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 32, two-time ASP World Champion (2007, 2009) and current ASP WCT No. 2, took advantage of the opening day's conditions, posting a strong 14.56 out of a possible 20 to overtake Brett Simpson (USA),28, and wildcard Bruce Irons (HAW), 33. Fanning's razor-sharp surfing and incredible consistency saw the Gold Coast natural-footer navigate the afternoon onshore conditions.
"Really exciting to be back in Bali," Fanning said. "The juniors have had the good fortune to compete here at Keramas over the last few years and all the boys on tour have been pretty jealous. The wave has so much power and variety, it could be the most high-performance wave on the planet. Not ideal conditions for our heat, but still some sets and some sections so I'm stoked to get through.
While a number of top seeds were relegated to the elimination Round 2, several others took advantage of today's conditions.
"Very happy to be here at Keramas," De Souza said. "I had a poor result in Fiji so I left to come here early and put time in at the wave. It is a great wave and all the boys here are going to do some crazy things this week. It's very high-performance. Very happy to get through today's heat and hope for a good event."
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 25, current ASP WCT No. 3, has been one of the most anticipated surfers for this week's event and the big South African didn't disappoint with a juggernaut Round 1 performance exhibiting his aerial ability as well as unmatched power game.
"That was a pretty exciting heat," Smith said. "Oney (Anwar) started off really strong, but I was able to claw back around mid-heat. Every wave is a chance to go big - Keramas is that perfect. Few scores started to drop for me and I was able to build some momentum throughout the back half of the heat. I have some really good boards under my feet and I'm just psyched to be here in Bali."
Nat Young (USA), 22, 2013 ASP Dream Tour rookie and current ASP WCT No. 6, continued his phenomenal run this season with a big Round 1 performance at the Oakley Pro Bali today.
"That was a lot of fun," Young said. "The waves started pumping for our heat and there were just a lot of them coming through. Some people think that Keramas can be tricky on your backhand, but when it's bigger you can actually get a lot more vertical. Glad the conditions went my way today and looking forward to the rest of the event."
Joining Young in Round 1 victories from the rookie class today was lethal aerialist Filipe Toledo (BRA), 18. Both surfers advance directly into Round 3.
John John Florence (HAW), 20, in his second event back from injury, capped off the day's proceedings with a phenomenal performance to collect a near-perfect 19.87 out of a possible 20. Hawaiian compatriot Sebastian Zietz (HAW), 25, opened up with some searing barrel-to-turn combinations and posted an excellent 19.37 out of a possible 20. However, it was Florence's hail mary alley-oop that pundits are claiming as the biggest aerial ever in competition that netted the young Hawaiian the first Perfect 10 of the event and the heat win.
"I was in the air and saw the bottom and everything happened so fast that I was just reacting," Florence said. "I claimed it pretty hard, but I was so stoked. The ankle is strapped but the brace gives me a lot of confidence and it feels good out there. Just psyched to be at Keramas, this wave is amazing and the boys are ripping so hard."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 6:45am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be 11-time ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 1 Kelly Slater (USA), 41, up against Jack Robinson (AUS), 15, in the opening heat of the elimination Round 2.
Highlights from the Oakley Pro Bali will be available via www.oakleyprobali.com
Surfline, official forecasters for the Oakley Pro Bali are calling for:
The current SW swell will continue on Wednesday, slowly easing. Gradually fading surf continues through the second half of the week. A similar sized swell for Keramas (smaller for Canggu) will peak on Sunday the 23rd, after building Saturday afternoon the 22nd. A series of potentially solid SW to SSW swells are on the radar for the afternoon of the 24th through the 27th.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com