Kauaian Sebastian Zietz set the pace Saturday and showed competitors what's possible with the conditions during Round 2 of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. He earned an 8.17, which is the highest-scoring wave of the event so far on the men's side -- eliminating Brazilian Ian Gouveia in the process.
The morning started with a significant chill in the air, so surfers did a few warm-up laps prior to the first heat of the day. Luckily, the sun eventually came up, and so did the scores.
With the new judging criteria, athletes have been scoring in the 5-7-point range, with Seabass being the first surfer to break the excellent barrier ("excellent" scores are 8.00 - 10.00).
"The judging panel will continue the utilization of the scale as we did yesterday, rewarding commitment on major maneuvers on the steepest and most critical sections of the Bowl," said Pritamo Ahrendt, WSL Head Judge. "The judges will also take in consideration any critical or dynamic turn on the inside close out section. Point of difference at the Bowl is the ability to hold the rail deep into the pocket with speed and power."
Surfers switched back to their larger boards this morning after commissioners decided to run at the Bells Bowl instead of Winkipop.
Zietz broke his heat down after his win. "It was a really good wave and I got lucky because Ian paddled and missed the first one," said Zietz. "He lost priority...but I would've gone on that wave. The next one that I went on was pretty buttery. You don't really get a lot of waves like that, especially at high tide.
"I'm excited it went up into the 8s. I know it wasn't the most progressive surfing in the world, but it's nice to know they'll still give you the score for a typical Bells wrap."
Zietz ended up in Round 2 -- a much-dreaded elimination round -- after losing out to Mick Fanning in Round 1 Friday at Winkipop. With three World Titles under his belt, Fanning will be retiring from the Championship Tour once the Bells event is over.
"It was a great honor to surf with Mick in Round 1," Zietz continued. "I've been watching him since I was a little kid. I remember when 3 Degrees came out and I instantly wanted to surf like Mick. I tried to get all hunched back and get more pissed off with my approach. His surfing just looked so aggressive and so raw. I'm sad to see him go. I'm going to miss him as a friend and as a surfer".
Seabass will be moving on to Round 3 at Bells Beach, a nice turnaround after losing in Round 2 at the Quik Pro Gold Coast, which ran earlier this month. Last year, he had the best season finish of his career -- No. 11 in the world -- since qualifying for the CT in 2013. A few more eights (ok, a lot more) in 2018 and he'll be on track to crack the Top 10.