What just happened? That was the question most people were asking each other after this historic and inimitable day of pro surfing at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
You couldn't draw more perfect waves in your spiral notebook. Tour rookies beat event champions. Perfect 10s were earned. Former World Champions reaffirmed their intentions for the year.
It was plain psychotic out there.
But let's start with our rookies. In Round Two Zeke Lau, Ian Gouveia and Connor O'Leary all took down their opponents. Lau in particular was the major upsetter, as he was up against event favorite and 2015 event champion Filipe Toledo. While Toledo just couldn't find a rhythm or a wave with opportunity, Zeke stepped up to the plate, surfed smartly, controlled priority and straight handled his business. Quite the test to pass in his first Round Two of the year.
Even in Round Three, up against Jordy Smith, Zeke had Smith against the ropes after Lau got a Perfect 10. Yes, a 10 in Lau's third heat ever on the Championship Tour (CT); a draining, six-second barrel behind the rocks to turn combo. While Jordy found a miraculous backup in the dying seconds of the heat for the win, Zeke still showed the world what he was going to do on the Tour this year: murder.
Italo. Oh, my God, Italo. Winning both of his heats today, in his Round Two heat against the much-anticipated rookie Leo Fioravanti, Italo's divine backhand attack put a hurting on the young rookie. Indeed Italo was on such a heater in the heat that he got bored and started doing shove-its at the end of his waves.
But it was Italo's air -- a giant backside, full-rotation air into the flats -- that stole the show (move of the event so far) and earned him a Perfect 10. Truly freakish stuff. Nearly 540 degrees of rotation.
"The game is on," said Ferreira. "I'm just enjoying myself and trying to get the best waves. I think yesterday I tried to do some big maneuvers but couldn't find the waves to pull them on, but today I did that big air and got my first 10-point wave, so I'm so stoked on that."
The third big theme of the day, yet again, was the dominance of past World Champs. Indeed, every World Champion won their Round Three heats. Slater (yesterday), Adriano, Parko and John John.
And specifically, Joel Parkinson. In a crazy heat, paused for weather, with a totally on-fire Miguel Pupo, Parko looked so clicked-on and in-tune it was scary. Or beautiful. A work of art.
While the waves totally turned on in Parko's heat, no one the entire day looked quite as connected to Snapper as he did. The guy looked like a grom again, taking off behind the rock and doing the most finesse-infused arcs to deep-pit combos….it was simply a sight for sore eyes. Two-minute rides aside, Parko looks like he's gunning for that second World Title, which isn't something we could honestly say in the past couple of years.
"Those Round Threes can be a real stumbling block," he said, "but once I got one it was like a release-valve that just started flowing, then all of a sudden it just started pumping. I think my relationship with Snapper is fairly mutual; I love surfing Snapper and I hope it loves me back."
As the surf continued its freakishly epic run into the night, 2016 World Champion John John Florence and wildcard Mikey Wright's heat was another monumental battle. Out the gates, John John was surfing fairly safe -- which Mikey quickly took advantage of, sliding into a huge draining pit behind the rocks, getting blown out, finishing it with a radical grab-rail carve. A solid 8.5.
Looking like Wright was going to cause the biggest upset of the entire event with a lead over Florence for most of the heat, John John finally found his backup in the dying minutes for the win. And just barely.
"A wildcard like Mikey Wright is so tough. I just heard everybody screaming on Mikey's first one and I was like, ‘Oh, no, what'd he do?!,'" said Florence. "That was a pretty nerve-racking heat for me, but those are the heats that really help you grow in the end."
Again, this was quite a historic day in professional surfing; both in the level of talent this year's group is performing at, and in the utterly surreal conditions Snapper delivered today.
And apparently, the sandbanks are going to keep maintaining that form.