The expected southerly pulse arrived just as predicted Wednesday morning at Lower Trestles, with head high lines wrapping down the point, more than enough to get the Hurley Pro back underway with round three and four action.
Top seeds dominated round three, setting up intense 3-man competition for the no-losers round four. The entire top 11 (minus Owen Wright) had made it, with frontrunners Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, John John Florence, and of course Kelly Slater seeded into the four separate heats. While Joel and John John were able to seal decisive victories, Mick and Kelly, the world number 1 and 4, were not so lucky.
First Kelly was handed an interference by Julian Wilson after Slater already had a commanding lead over Wilson and Taj Burrow. The split peak at Lowers is often the scene of numerous paddling interferences, but Kelly was clearly upset with the call. Mick was next up, and he would fall to a blistering performance by Ace Buchan.
These losses send the two to a dreadful pair of round 5 matchups. With so many high seeds thru to round 4, even the round 5 “loser’s bracket” is full of deadly draws. A loss here would be bad news for title hopes, even more so for Kelly, who with two non-results already under his belt this season he cannot afford a mistake here. Kelly will face Jeremy Flores and Mick will face Julian Wilson.
The waves are expected to pump again tomorrow and the event is expected to finish in excellent surf.
Photos of Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning courtesy Hurley