John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Jordy Smith opened his Final campaign on a tear, stringing together powerful hacks and a closeout tail-slide for a nine-pointer straight off the bat. John John Florence's answer -- a full rotation air followed by a full rotation closeout -- was heard loud and clear and the young Hawaiian found himself a midrange score away from overtaking the lead. But the South African was not ruffled, continuing to attack the lip for scores to keep Florence at bay and he held first position going into the second half of the heat.
Florence broke the stalemate with 10 minutes remaining combining two huge laybacks for an 8.60 and the lead. With two minutes remaining, Smith managed to fight through the white water after his opening float and close with a full rotation. His Hail Mary paid off when, after tense moments following the horn, his ride flipped the scoreboard one final time.
Result: Jordy Smith, 16.50, def. John John Florence, 15.87
SF 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
In a rematch of an epic Semifinal in Tahiti, John John Florence took to the water to face Kelly Slater. Florence took a loose approach to the heat, airing out each ride but never landed on his board. Slater took the opposite approach, remaining selective, and earning an excellent 8.43 for a full, rail-grab rotation.
Florence was undeterred and, when he eventually found his footing, the air show was reignited. With three consecutive airs the Hawaiian dominated the second half of the heat and made his first 2014 Final.
"Our heat keeps coming down to those last seconds," Florence said. "I'm so stoked I got him this time. He's a scary guy to surf against."
Result: John John Florence, 15.10, def. Kelly Slater, 14.10
SF 1: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Giant-killer Adrian Buchan, who took down World No. 1 Gabriel Medina in the Quarters, took a solid first ride on his backhand for a six-pointer. Jordy Smith had a great start to his first significant wave, showing off some of his nimble turns and a quick floater before falling at the end.
After the halfway mark, Buchan was still ahead, but by just a narrow margin. As the minutes ticked down, Smith finally found some rhythm and got a small righthander that let him unleash his new-school skills. Connecting fluid turns with a quick floater and some tail slides, this was the Smith the judges recognized and his scoreline went up. Still trailing in the final minute, Buchan made a buzzer-beating, last-ditch effort.
Result: Jordy Smith, 14.10, def. Adrian Buchan, 13.30**
QF 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
The veteran surfers of Quarterfinal 4 both opened their campaigns with midrange scores, the slight advantage favoring Joel Parkinson. Kelly Slater took off on a left, managing two extreme laybacks for a nine-point backup score and a solid command of the lead.
With 10 minutes remaining, Slater switched to his backhand and improved his situation, leaving Parko out the back looking for a near-perfect score. But his Hail Mary softened up and he will leave Trestles with an equal fifth finish.
"For me and Parko to be in the same heat is unfortunate because we're those ones really in a position to catch up to [Medina]," Slater said. "I'm surfed to be surfing against John in the Semis. I'm sort of hoping he peaked, though."
Result: Kelly Slater, 15.87, def. Joel Parkinson, 11.33
QF 3: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Adriano De Souza (BRA
Following his mind-blowing Round 4 performance, Hawaiian ingenue John John Florence had his own big shoes to fill and didn't disappoint. He opened his face-off against Adriano De Souza with a nine-pointer to set the bar. The Brazilian kicked off his scoreline with a seven-pointer, a far cry from some of his heroics the day before.
Florence seemed to lose some momentum in the second half of the heat. He threw every air he could, but didn't make the landings. De Souza, meanwhile, held on to priority but was mostly idle. When he let a smaller wave go, Florence capitalized and drove down the line to launch a feet-free air, landing in the foam and riding it out. In his second consecutive event, Florence finds himself in a crucial Semifinal heat.
"It almost seems like everything goes in slow motion for a sec," Florence said, referring to his stunning aerial. "You just sort of fall on a bunch and then try and try and try until you finally land on your board."
Result: John John Florence 17.37 def. Adriano De Souza 9.26
QF 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Continuing his charge toward the World Title, Gabriel Medina set the pace for Quarterfinal 2, popping off the lip for a midrange opener. Medina owned the initial exchange but Ace Buchan started moving and improved his scoreline with each ride. Medina had a small launch above the lip to narrow the gap but Ace held the lead going into the second half.
Both surfers stuck to what they knew best, refining their maneuvers as the heat rolled on: Medina picked up his air game, landing a full-rotation reverse, while Buchan's vertical snaps saw him completely inverted, parallel to the ocean floor. He earned the day's first nine-point ride and, with 10 minutes left, forced the Brazilian to hunt down a near-perfect score. In the end Buchan pulled off a huge upset, and was headed to the Semis.
"I didn't want to play his game," said Buchan. "I surfed my own heat and then controlled priority in the back half. Everything feels good, I want to keep surfing well and having fun."
For his part, Medina was not deterred after his loss. "I just want to make heats, and be prepared for every heat," he said. "It doesn't matter against who. God said, I can do it. I'm still working on it and I will train more."
Result: Adrian Buchan, 17.43, def. Gabriel Medina, 14.77
QF 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
It was in the final 10 minutes that Smith found his rhythm. Taking a medium-sized righthander, he pulled off a huge tail-slide before driving a bottom turn into a quick float for an 8.17. Fanning answered this time, pulling off his own float for an excellent score, but still trailed his younger opponent when the horn sounded. He was eliminated, and Smith was headed for the Semis.
"I haven't had an incredible heat, yet; I've had average scores, not really the bombs I'm looking for," Smith Said. "Mick's is my favorite competitor. He's so focused before his heats, it's kind of intimidating."
Result: Jordy Smith, 15.87 def. Mick Fanning 13.53**