Joan Duru and Jack Freestone eliminated World No. 1 John Florence and World No. 2 Italo Ferreira in the Round of 32 at the Corona Bali Protected, leaving the Jeep Leaderboard wide open. With Jordy Smith (World No. 3), Filipe Toledo (World No. 4) and Gabriel Medina (World No. 5) all still alive in the event, it was a day of high performance surfing and upsets that could shape the World Title race.
Florence looked in form and showcased the dynamic surfing on the clean Keramas walls that has earned him his two World Titles. However, a combination of his own unforced errors and Joan Duru's vertical backhand means he will have to pass on the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey.
"I made a few mistakes in that heat which right now is all I can think of. I'll have to go back and watch it again to see where I went wrong," Florence remarked after his heat loss. The surer from Hawaii failed to complete almost all of his scoring waves and it was the uncharacteristic errors on the final section that probably cost him the heat.
"The waves are super fun and obviously Joan [Duru] ripped that last wave really well, but I didn't see it," continued Florence. "I'll probably hang out here for a couple of days and then head to Margaret River next week. I'm so stoked to be heading back there this year."
Duru however is to be applauded for the aggression and confidence that he brought to the heat. The Frenchman has had a poor start to the year, but the steep-banked Keramas walls provided the perfect platform to unleash his trademarked vertical snaps in the pocket.
"My first wave I maybe pushed too hard and was kind of falling," Duru said. "I knew I needed to surf that heat well, but I didn't think too much. I just went for it. I got that wave in the end, but I wasn't too sure if it was enough. It feels so good to get that score."
With Florence out of the equation the World No. 2 and defending event champion Italo Ferreira was gifted the opportunity to claim the Jeep Leader Jersey. However the Brazilian came unstuck against Jack Freestone who carried his Red Bull Airborne winning form into the Corona Bali Protected. The Australian had the big crowds whooping with delight when he launched a clean Alley-Oop rotation on his first wave and retained control for a dominant victory.
"I've put a lot of time out here at Keramas and have surfed it so many times and in events as well," said Freestone, who won his second World Junior Title at Keramas in 2012. "I definitely have a special relationship with the wave and feel like I know the lineup well. I'd love to win this event for sure." Freestone will now face the dangerous Jeremy Flores in the Round of 16, whose tuberiding gifts on the buzzer yet again proved decisive in his matchup with Willian Cardoso.
Unlike Ferreira, who looked uncharacteristically lethargic in his heat, Filipe Toledo sparked into overdrive when he hit the water. The Brazilian knows how to seize a moment and was the day's best performer. With the judges being in a particularly ungenerous mood throughout the day, he was the only surfer to generate scores in the excellent range. In fact, his two highest single wave scores have been top wave scores of the event so far.
It is now up to Jordy Smith and Gabriel Medina, who didn't surf their Round of 32 heats due to the lower tide and onshore winds, to emulate Toledo and capitalize on Florence and Ferreira's early exits. After a day of upsets, the Jeep Leaderboard is suddenly wide open.
Notable and Quotable from Day 4 at Keramas:
-Kelly Slater eliminated longtime rival Owen Wright to advance to the Round of 16. "I love Owen," said Slater. "He's a great guy. We had a fun surf a Winki a couple days after the Bells event. He's obviously been through a lot of hardship, but you kind of have to put all that stuff out of your mind. I went in with the mindset that I have the advantage here. I was able to play the heat right. My board feels stuck to my feet, which is a real confidence booster."
-Australian Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Klim was among the spectators today. "I live in Bali now with my family so we're here to check out the event," Klim said. "I think it's amazing to see surfing in the Olympics. It was obviously a demonstration sport in Rio and you can see right here now that there are so many fans and support from big companies behind it so it will fit in well and be really fantastic. To be honest I think it's about time that a sport like surfing is being represented in the Olympics."