Date: Sunday, October 19, 2014
Schedule: Round 2 (Heats 1-12) and Round 3 (1-10)
Conditions: 6-to-10 feet at Supertubos with light offshore winds
Round 1 Recap
Kai Otton found a seemingly below-sea level barrel and still managed to ride out with ease, setting the bar right away with a 9.37. Otton notched another excellent score on a no-handed barrel ride, quickly putting Taj Burrow in a combination situation.
In a rare scenario, Burrow had a high-score of just 1.50 going into the final minutes. He remained in a combination situation through the final horn and the defending event champion moved on to Round 4.
Michel Bourez set the pace for Heat 9, finding a hollow barrel for an opening midrange score. Using his rail-to-rail skills, Bourez then built on his lead. Sebastian Zietz remained selective and waited until the 17-minute mark to find a barrel. His patience paid off and he earned the highest single-wave score of the heat -- a 7.67 -- for a clean tube ride. He then only needed a small backup, but then Bourez dropped into a big one for an excellent 8.60 and a solid lead going into the back half of the heat.
With nerves of steel, Zietz stayed the course, opting to hold priority into the final 5 minutes, but his patience went to waste on an incomplete barrel ride. When Zietz paddled back into the lineup, Bourez - now holding priority - kept him off any more opportunities and the Spartan was able to advance into Round 4.
"There were so many options with the tide going out," Bourez said.
(To watch the full heat, visit the ASP Heat Analyzer)
After the fireworks in Heats 6 and 7, Heat 8 remained a relatively calm affair. Josh Kerr held a narrow lead for the majority of the matchup, with a 4.83 high score. Miguel Pupo put up small scores and Kerr broke away at the 5-minute mark when he recorded an excellent 8.00 for riding out a righthanded barrel.
Pupo avoided the combination situation with his own excellent score for a deep tube ride in the dying moments, but Kerr had improved his bottom score to a midrange five on his last wave and knocked Pupo out of the contest.
"I knew it was gonna be close so I'm stoked it went my way," Kerr said.
On the heels of the biggest upset of the day, Aritz Aranburu opened his Round 3 account with confidence, leading Kelly Slater with 10 minutes off the clock, on the strength of two clean barrel rides for a 12.00 heat total. The 11-time World Champ logged his first significant score on a tight lefthander but was hunting a seven-point ride going into second half of the heat. His scoreline stalled, though, and he was unable to get in rhythm with the unruly barrels. A solid backup score never materialized and the World No. 2 suffered a surprise exit and missed another opportunity to significantly narrow the rankings lead of Gabriel Medina.
Gabriel Medina entered the lineup for the first time for the biggest heat of the day in terms of Title implications. Brett Simpson showed he fully intended to prevent Medina from clinching the Title in Europe, opening with a seven-pointer for escaping a long, draining barrel immediately following the horn. Medina answered by escaping a throaty barrel through the whitewash and his backup tube ride forced a lead change at the halfway mark.
Medina improved his scoreline but Simpson only needed a high four-pointer to regain first position. After struggling to find his earlier magic on the righthanders, Simpson moved over to the lefts and caught a wave on his backhand. Two critical turns earned him a 5.17 and the heat lead again. Medina then answered with a tight, smaller forehand barrel, but his score came in below the requirement. Medina would ultimately exit the water with approximately two minutes remaining and, in one of the bigger upsets of the event so far, Simpson eliminated the World Tour leader and also insured a World Champion wouldn't be crowned in Portugal.
"I'm pretty sad with this loss but it happens, this is a competition," Medina said. "I was ready to win here but I can wait."
The ocean had flattened out, making Heat 5 a slow, low-scoring affair. Bede Durbidge held a slight lead over Owen Wright with two four-point rides in his scoreline. At the 10-minute mark, Durbidge escaped a tight barrel for a midrange six and widened the gab between himself and his opponent. Unable to get anything above a 1.43, Wright leaves Portugal with a 13th-place finish.
While Jadson Andre faltered on his opening rides, Adriano De Souza had no problem settling into an early rhythm. De Souza dropped into a double-overhead barrel and closed with a float to earn an excellent score and an early lead. After earning a five-point keeper late in the heat, Andre only needed a second five-pointer to overtake his fellow Brazilian. He took off with 10 seconds remaining but lost his footing on a closeout and was eliminated.
"It's hard to compete against your friend," De Souza said. "Unfortunately we battle for one spot and I'm really proud of myself to make that heat because it was super tough out there."
After an opening 10 minutes of small scores, the heat opened up with both surfers going for barrel rides. Dion Atkinson raced through a hollow tube, but John John Florence got the nod for staying deep in the pit and emerging with the spit for an excellent score and the heat lead. Moments later he'd up the ante. Air-dropping into a well-overhead barrel and finding a long ride behind the curtain, Florence was awarded the first Perfect 10 of the event. Despite a solid seven-pointer for his opener, Atkinson found himself needing two new scores with 10 minutes remaining. A daunting task in the ever-changing conditions, the rookie was unable to improve his situation and was eliminated.
Jordy Smith had perfect timing on his opening ride, escaping a draining barrel with a clean exit and the second nine-point ride of the day. A six-point backup had Freddy Patacchia searching for a 10 with 20 minutes remaining.
With a five-pointer in his scoreline, Freddy P could improve his situation with a second high score, spreading required 10 points across two new waves, but with 3 minutes remaining he was still waiting out the back for an opportunity. That hope diminished with every minute that ticked off the clock. A final barrel ride would not count toward his heat score and Smith moved on to Round 4.
"I take each event as they come, each heat as they come. I was kind of nervous going into that one, I hadn't had a free surf all day," Smith said. "There some 10s out there to be had. I ended up sneaking out of that first one and that kind of set the heat up really for me."
Joel Parkinson kept busy, but it was Adam Melling who earned an edge over the former World Champ. Melling notched the first significant score -- a midrange six -- for a string of cutbacks and overtook the lead on a similar righthander with 5 minutes remaining. Parko hunted the lineup but, needing a high seven, he failed to find an opportunity. Melling pulled off the upset, squashing Parkinson's Title hopes. (See remaining scenarios.)
"I was hoping to go out with a positive results but it was a pathetic heat, really," Parkinson said.
In a highly anticipated heat, defending event champion Kai Otton faced local hero Tiago Pires. Otton wasted no time making his mark, showing rail-to-rail prowess to earn a seven-pointer and a midrange backup. It put his opponent on his heels going into the second half of the heat. Otton would control the heat through the final horn and continue his campaign for a repeat event win.
Competitors in Heat 11 took two different approaches. Matt Wilkinson went for strong vertical hacks to win the opening exchange, but with barrels back on offer Dion Atkinson took full advantage. The rookie took the lead with scores on back-to-back drainers, including an excellent eight-pointer. Wilkinson would end up getting a score close to his opener but Atkinson's early heroics carried him to victory.
"You gotta take it when you can," Atkinson said. "You come up against any guys and you're up against those top seeds in Round 3 and you always have to do good surfing."
Due to an injury sustained during a free surf, C.J. Hobgood was forced to bow out of competition, giving Adam Melling a direct advance into Round 3.
While barrels were being scored higher than maneuvers during the first half of Round 2, the incoming tide made the latter more realistic. Freddy Patacchia, using the knowledge of a Tour veteran, switched up his game and went vertical on his backhand, while the rookie, Mitch Crews, faltered on tube rides and an aerial.
Crews pulled off some progressive maneuvers, including an extended floater, to narrow the gap, but he remained in second position. Patacchia took a risk, forfeiting priority with just a couple minutes left on the clock, but he improved his bottom score and earned a spot in Round 3.
"It's actually been pretty easy to stay excited this week; the wind's been bad here but everywhere else it's been going off," Patacchia said.
After a couple failed attempts, Alejo Muniz dropped into a hollow left for the first significant score of Heat 7, easily taking the lead from Julian Wilson. With the tide still coming in, Wilson was forced to wait until the final seconds to try a find a winning score. With 10 seconds on the clock, he pulled off multiple snaps, nearly carving his way to the beach. But with maneuvers scoring far less than barrels, he still came up short and was eliminated.
"I got here very early and I've been watching every single heat," Muniz said. "I only have one good result. I'm not thinking too much about that. I'm just trying to take it heat by heat. Hopefully it will go my way so I can be here next year.
Aritz Aranburu was busy from the start, carving up a right and, soon afterwards, dropping into a left barrel to establish an early lead. Ace Buchan was already on the back foot, holding just a pair of throwaway scores, when a broken board forced Buchan to the beach for his backup. It cost him crucial time as the clock passed the 10-minute mark. From there, Aranburu used priority to stalk Buchan and block any opportunities. The Spaniard came away with the upset and advanced to Round 3.
For most of the heat, Bede Durbidge held the lead based on two four-point rides, while Travis Logie struggled to find clean exits on tight barrels. With priority as the heat wound down, Logie needed a manageable 7.34. His final opportunity closed out quickly and he finished with no solid numbers in his scoreline.
"There are still some good waves but there's a lot of backwash in it," Durbidge said. "I think when the tide goes out it will be better and I'm looking forward to my next heat."
Heat 5 started the same way as as many others in Round 2: with low scores until the athletes were able to decode shifting barrels. Brett Simpson was the first to take advantage, escaping a drainer on his forehand for a seven and the lead. In second, Nat Young opted to work the lefts, finding two solid tube-rides to keep things close.
A crucial exchange then unfolded in the dying moments. Young took off on a righthander for another deep barrel to earn a 7.10 and force the lead change. But a minute later, Simpson found a pit going left and after the horn blew a score dropped that gave him the heat win and trip to Round 3.
"We weren't getting much at the start and we were just trying to find where the set was. Then I got that seven and it was wave after wave," Simpson said. "I felt just before going into that heat that there was no way I was losing and that hasn't happened for a while."
With uncooperative tubes on offer to start, Jeremy Flores opted for turns on a left to record his first significant score and take the early lead. The next set offered more manageable barrels and Kolohe Andino capitalized, earning his first keeper, but stayed in second position. Andino then made the most on the his next barrel opportunity, to force a late lead-change. Flores was left with few sets out the back and was still hunting when clocked counted down to zero.
"It seems like anyone can beat anyone so I wasn't really excited about these conditions, because Jeremy's an incredible tube rider," Andino said. "Some people have that natural ability, but I don't have that. So I have to manufacture. I was all over the place mainly try to avoid the rip so I'm just trying to stay active."
This would be a low-scoring affair. Both Michel Bourez and Raoni Monteiro struggled to find makeable barrels in the opening half of the heat. Monteiro was first to brake away with just a three-point score for a brief tube that saw him break through the lip for an exit.
Using priority, Monteiro also found a tight barrel in the final 5 minutes to up his bottom score, but Bourez (a.k.a. "The Spartan") had an answer. His last-ditch effort found Bourez in a shallow but clean barrel that scored just 3.63, but was still high enough to give him the heat win
"The wind was strong and I had to take a bunch of waves on the head so mentally it was really hard," Bourez said of the challenging contest. "First I needed a two then I needed a three so told myself I'm just gonna wait for a wave that offered that and I got it."
Nic Von Rupp's opening tube-ride was shallow but trumped two unsuccessful first attempts by John John Florence, giving the local wildcard an early lead. Scores then stalled until Florence found a frontside barrel into a full air-reverse for an excellent score and a lead change. Von Rupp answered with a tube going left, exiting cleanly with the spit, but his score came in just under the requirement and the last remaining wildcard was eliminated.
"Right now it's whoever gets in a rhythm and it seemed like no one could get in a rhythm that heat," Florence said. "This back half of the year I've been toning down my free-surfing and just resting, but these last few days I've been surfing a lot."
Reigning World Champion, Mick Fanning, wasted no time establishing dominance over the wildcard, notching an excellent ride and a nine-pointer on back-to-back barrels in the opening 3 minutes. Jacob Willcox remained scoreless going into the second half of the heat.
Knowing he needed a gem to get back in contention, Willcox continued to wait and still needed a first score going into the final 10 minutes. Ultimately, the wildcard made a backhand barrel, then quickly followed with another deep pit on his forehand. That second barrel wouldn't cooperate, though, and Willcox finished in a combination situation.
"As soon as I got out there I just saw some crazy [waves] so it was pretty exciting," Fanning said of the renewed conditions. As for the Title race: "Gabe [Medina]'s in front and he's the one thinking he has to be on it every day. We're sort of just chasing him and just trying to get heats so it's a little less pressure."