Date: Thursday, October 2, 2014
Schedule: Round 3 (Heats 5-12), Round 4 (Heats 1-4)
Conditions: 5-to-7-foot faces
Recap: Round 1
Recap: Round 2, Heats 1-9
Recap: Round 2, Heats 10-12 and Round 3, Heats 1-4
Taj Burrow took the lead first, with a 7.10 for a solid start. Jordy Smith, still hot off his winning streak, was close behind with a 6.50. He quickly followed up on a set wave, connecting top-to-bottom turns and staying in the pocket to earn a 9.17. The score put him firmly in the lead, with Burrow in second and Andre quiet and trailing.
Smith held on to his lead, into the final few minutes. While the sun backlit the action, his claims were clear. Smith took the win, and advanced directly to the the Quarters.
Filipe Toledo was the first to take off on successive waves, but fell on both and didn't get a strong start in terms of scoring. Kelly Slater was next, driving down a righthander and tucking into a barrel section, but it closed down and his score stayed low, too. Pupo was third to the punch, but earned a six-pointer that put him in second, behind Toledo's combined 9.17 by the halfway point.
With fewer than 10 minutes left, Slater still trailed the two Brazilians, who forged ahead with some airs and backhanders in a changing tide. Slater, meanwhile, sat in third place. As the seconds ticked down, the 11-time World Champ was visibly frustrated as Pupo advanced and he and Toledo were sent to Round 5.
"It was a tough heat," Pupo said. "Kelly couldn't get anything -- that's how hard the waves are right now. It's just a game. We were trying to find waves.
Results: Miguel Pupo 12.83 vs. Filipe Toledo 12.00 vs. Kelly Slater 6.60
Heat 2 featured a matchup of aerial masters, amid a dropping tide that saw the waves build in size and begin to hollow out. Medina quickly set the pace, scoring a 9.00 on his first wave thanks to huge turns on his backhand, complete with drifting fins and a clean finish. Josh Kerr and John John Florence tried to catch up, throwing airs in an effort to answer back with something strong.
Neither was successful, with each falling on respective waves and sabotaging scoring potential. Medina continued his all-out rampage, replacing his bottom score with a five-pointer to nail down the win. When the horn went off, he advanced to the Quarters and the other two were headed to Round 5.
"I feel good, I just want to surf," Medina said. "As I always say, it's heat by heat. Even if I lose, I just want to surf good."
Results: Gabriel Medina 16.17 vs. Josh Kerr 9.93 vs. John John Florence 5.87
With a handful of exchanges and no breakaway scores, the lead was still up for grabs throughout the first half of Round 4's opening faceoff. It was Kolohe Andino, though, who put the first significant number up, with a 7.83 that nudged him into the lead, followed by Aussies Mick Fanning in second and Matt Wilkinson trailing.
Andino pressed on, though. He broke out the aerial game that helped earn him a reputation as a new-school talent, landing solidly for an 8.67. putting the other surfers in combination situations.
"I'm trying to relax and do my best," Andino said. "I have confidence in all my surfing [now]. So I'm surfing the waves as they come, and not forcing the airs."
Results: Kolohe Andino 16.50 vs. Mick Fanning 13.24 vs. Matt Wilkinson 10.16
Jadson Andre, World No. 29, opened the heat with solid, midrange scores that put him ahead of his higher-ranked opponent, Joel Parkinson. Parko, World No. 3, broke out his signature, wrapping turns to put a few midrange numbers on his own scoreline, but by the halfway point was still lagging.
Andre was on fire, making the most of the variable conditions to throw airs, vertical hacks, and floaters that impressed. In the end, Parkinson couldn't catch up to Andre, who was in form and totally focused on getting out of Round 3 for the first time in 2014. In the contest's biggest upset so far, he took the win and sent Parko packing.
"I'm really stoked to make it, but I still have a long way to go," said Andre. "I'm feeling great, stoked to break the Round 3 [curse]."
Result: Jadson Andre, 14.70 def. Joel Parkinson, 12.86
Heat 11 saw a rematch between progressive powerhouse Jordy Smith and Julian Wilson, who last met in the Final at the Hurley Pro at Trestles. Smith won there for his first victory of the year, and in France it was clear from the start that he intended to keep the trend going. Within minutes he had am 8.50 and a 6.83 on his scoreline and the pressure was on his opponent. Wilson answered back with clean carves and a huge air, but he didn't land it and a solid score eluded him.
Wilson finally earned a solid six-pointer, which got him out of a combo situation but still left him lagging. Smith, meanwhile, took off on another solid frontside ride, connecting powerful turns and throwing a big air-reverse to earn an 8.53. The score was icing on the cake in a heat that he controlled from start to finish. Smith took the win, sending Wilson home.
Result: Smith, 17.03 def. Wilson, 10.03
Kai Otton kicked off the all-Aussie heat with a seven-pointer to take an early lead. But Burrow began to find his rhythm on a handful of rights, combining his strong, forehand carve with some new-school moves. The ride impressed the judges, earning him an 8.27 and putting him ahead. With 10 minutes left, Otton needed a 7.82 to regain the lead.
While some of the predicted wave size was beginning to show up, the sets were still slow to arrive. Otton tried to close the gap one that rolled through, but mustered just a three-pointer. He wasn't able to make up the difference before the horn and was eliminated from the Quiksilver Pro.
"The World Title's slipping away, for sure," said Burrow. "It's been an incredible year for Gabriel. I'm just looking to win events."
Result: Taj Burrow, 15.14 def. Kai Otton, 11.26
Filipe Toledo went on the attack almost immediately, flawlessly slashing up a lefthander to earn a 9.60 and set the bar. While De Souza waited for the right wave to make a big move, Toledo let loose with a few attempted spins. De Souza finally found a solid ride, but it netted just a 6.67 and didn't budge his position.
Pushing to catch up in the second half, De Souza took off on a big frontside ride for a 7.33 that put him within a point of his opponent. With just seconds left, Toledo used priority to keep De Souza off of a small inside wave, throwing a rotation for good measure. Out the back, though, De Souza found a wave for himself and threw an even bigger air. But the score wasn't what he needed and his run in France was finished.
"I'm not feeling 100 percent, but I can surf and do my job," said Toledo.
Result: Filipe Toledo, 16.10 def. Adriano De Souza, 13.50
Miguel Pupo opened the heat, posting a 4.67 to kick things off. Wright was quick to answer with a backhand ride, taking the lead with a 6.00. He followed it up with another, whipping three solid turns in critical sections for a 6.83 that reinforced his lead. But Pupo followed suit with a powerful backhand ride of his own, and frontside air for an 8.00. The score forced a lead change, putting Wright on the defense.
With fewer than 10 minutes left and needing an eight-pointer to regain the lead Wright went on the attack, launching a floater and connecting a series of explosive, backside turns. He earned a 7.50, and inched closer to his opponent. As the final minute ticked down, Wright needed a 7.74 to take the win and avoid elimination. The wave he needed never arrived, and Pupo took the heat.
"Me and Owen always have close heats," Pupo said after the win. "I was just trying to surf and be happy and get my waves."
Result: Miguel Pupo, 15.23 def. Owen Wright, 14.33
Arguably the most anticipated heat of the day saw World No. 2 Kelly Slater up against Travis Logie, World No. 31. For Slater, losing the heat and elimination would mean the end of his World Title hopes for the year: With no event wins so far, he needed the points to wrest the rankings lead from Medina.
After a slow start that saw each surfer tally a negligible score, Logie started the heat in earnest with a long lefthander, to earn a 6.50 and take the lead. Slater answered with a solid backhand ride to earn an 8.00 and move in front. Gaining momentum, on his next wave he pulled a clean, backside tailslide air reverse to score a 5.17 and solidify his lead.
While Slater worked his backhand, Logie took the lefts on his frontside and the pair exchanged waves into the final 10 minutes. With just four minutes left, Logie needed a 6.68 to overtake the Champ. He came close with another solid ride, but just missed the mark, with a 6.43. Slater won the heat -- barely.
"You can never discount Logie, in any conditions," Slater said. "It was a tricky morning.
Result: Kelly Slater, 13.27 def. Travis Logie, 12.93
With World Title chances on the line, all eyes were on Medina and Flores. For Medina, the sudden-death heat had high stakes: As World No. 1 with a first Championship on the horizon, an early elimination would potentially give an edge to World No. 2, Kelly Slater. For Flores, Heat 6 was all about surfing on home turf after a bumpy season.
By the second half of the heat, neither surfer had managed a solid ride and the scores remained low. Medina and Flores exchanged a handful of rides, adding incremental numbers to their scorelines. With fewer than 10 minutes left, though, Medina began to get fired up and built on his slight lead. Flores dug in, too, but couldn't catch up. The Brazilian would go on to see another heat, while Flores's run in Hossegor came to an end.
Result: Medina, 9.40 def. Flores, 7.50
It was a slow start for the Aussies, who worked to figure out the bank in an early high tide. Buchan took the first wave of the heat, but fell and lost priority. Kerr took the opening and dropped into a clean face for a midrange score. They repeated the pattern, with Kerr tallying a modest scoreline by the midway point and leading with a slight edge.
Buchan, however, would not go down without a fight. He added a few midrange scores to his own tally with smooth, backhand rides and forced a lead change. Kerr answered back, though, pushing to improve his scores. In the final moments, numbers came through and Kerr took the win, by 13 hundredths of a point.
"I didn't really have a great heat," Kerr said afterward. "It's just Ace had a worse heat. ... I feel like I'm breaking that French curse on my shoulders."
Result: Josh Kerr, 10.90 def. Adrian Buchan, 10.77