CLASSIC conditions with stiff offshore winds and solid surf in the four-to-six foot (1.5 - 2m) range once again graced Bells Beach today as the Rip Curl Pro presented by Snickers quarter finalists were determined. Forecasts are predicting similar swell through tomorrow coupled with a decent 14 second period. The final day could be epic.
The final four heats of Round 2 went on this morning plus the first three heats of Round 3 in excellent conditions at Bells Beach before relocating to nearby Winkipop to accommodate the increase in swell.
Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, current ASP World No. 1 and past winner of the Rip Curl Pro (2004), continued this season's devastating form, eliminating Kai Otton (AUS), 29, in Round 3 with an excellent-scoring 9.00 out of a possible 10 for a deep barrel followed by a series of rail-carves.
"That was a tough heat," Parkinson said. "Probably one of the toughest I have surfed this year because of the elements. That wind was hard. I had one wave that blew me off the back but there are some good waves out there. My 9.00 was more just a little barrel, it was a really hard wave to surf. You are almost just holding on for dear life because of the wind. I guess I live to fight another day."
With reigning nine-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 37, out of the event as well as perennial ASP World Title challengers Bede Durbidge (AUS), 25, and Taj Burrow (AUS), 30, Parkinson's bid for an inaugural crown is looking solid, but the talented natural-footer is wary of the season ahead.
"Everyone has talked it up with the hype of Kelly (Slater), Bede (Durbidge) and Taj (Burrow) being knocked out," Parkinson said. "This isn't a sprint, it is a marathon so there is no point getting caught up in it. We are still eight events to go and still eight months to go so there is no point in worrying what is happening at this event. Those guys are going to come out more hungry next time."
Parkinson will face former ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, in Quarterfinal 1 when competition resumes.
As the swell increased, event organizers moved competition to nearby Winkipop where competitors reveled in the steeper, walling righthanders on offer.
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 21, took down giant-killing wildcard Owen Wright (AUS), 19, in one of the most exciting encounters of the day. Wright, who defeated defending event champion Slater in Round 2 of competition, looked in-form once again, but Smith's forehand mastery proved too much for the young Australian.
"That's probably the biggest heat I have had nerves-wise this whole event," Smith said. "I keep getting the wildcards and they are the best guys as they have nothing lose. I'm stoked to get that out of my way. Owen (Wright) is a great surfer. I kind of just got lucky and had the first wave and that allowed me to control the heat from there."
Smith will take on former ASP World Champion and past Rip Curl Pro winner Mick Fanning (AUS), 27, in Quarterfinal 2.
Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookie, continued the afternoon onslaught, netting an excellent total of a 17.34. The stocky natural-footer's frame synched harmoniously with the Winkipop walls as he bashed his way past fellow rookie Drew Courtney (AUS), 29.
"Super stoked that the contest director moved the event down here," Bacalso said. "The waves are cranking. I just found the number and dialed it in. What do you know, four bomb waves or something."
Bacalso will battle trials winner and last Victorian standing Adam Robertson (AUS), 26, in Quarterfinal 3 when competition resumes. Robertson's performance at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach has been nothing short of sensational, with the sponsorless natural-footer taking down massive names en route to the best Victorian finish in decades.
Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), 27, continued the afternoon Hawaiian onslaught, posting the day's highest heat total of a 17.57 out of a possible 20 for a series of critical backhand blasts.
"The waves just started getting better and better and I just got a few perfect ones, it was just a lot of fun," Patacchia said. "Kekoa has been ripping. Actually, he has been really showing me up so I had to step it up in my heat. Damien Hardman has been making some amazing calls with this event. I know it is tough because it can be so fickle with the tides but I think so far so good, well for my heats anyway. Fifth is always nice, especially out here at Bells as a backhand guy. I'm happy with that. So, just hoping to take it one heat at a time and hoping to make the Final, who knows?"
Pattachia will take on ASP Dream Tour veteran Kieren Perrow (AUS), XX, in Quarterfinal 4 when competition resumes.
Highlights from today's Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach pres. by Snickers will be available via www.live.ripcurl.com
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
QF 2: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)
QF 3: Adam Robertson (AUS) vs. Kekoa Bacalso (HAW)
QF 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)