For the third straight event in a row, Dane Reynolds has been sent home packing with an early round flame out, finishing with yet another 33rd (dirty turd) at the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro in Brazil on Sunday as Round Two (the losers round) was completed in lumpy, bumpy, overhead yet mushy wind swell remnants. "I'd say this was an uncharacteristic loss for Dane," said Kelly Slater, who was commentating the heat. "But unfortunately this isn't all that uncharacteristic anymore."
Reynolds was clearly having trouble finding targets to hit. But even Slater thought he missed an opportunity or two for launch. Slater called him out online when Dane failed to launch off a sloppy closeout section. "He has trouble when it's mushier. He likes more lip and a little more power to it." One of the more interesting little stats Slater revealed was that he and Dane have lost to the same person in the last two events. Both lost to Owen Wright at Bells and Aritz Aranburu in Tahiti.
"That'd be pretty stressful for me if I drew Tiago next round, given the recent history," Slater added with a laugh.
Fortunately for Slater, he dodged the Pires bullet (which was one of the rare ones that big him last year, in Bali) for now. Slater will instead face Aussie Ben Dunn in Round Three. The only other major casualty on Sunday was Fred Patacchia, who apparently didn't get to cash the karma points he earned Saturday for letting Slater use his boards. This was Fred's earliest exit this season.
Notable Round Two survivors included Jordy Smith, C.J. and Damien Hobgood and Nathaniel Curran, who advanced out of his first heat this season after beating veteran Kieren Perrow. "Hopefully I can build a little momentum for a result here," Curran said after, acknowledging the transition hasn't been easy. For Reynolds, anohter early exit will most likely put him out of the Top 30. Whether he cares or not is always up for debate.
ROUND THREE MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 3: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Tim Boal (FRA)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Greg Emslie (ZAF)
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Dustin Barca (HAW)
Heat 7: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Neco Padaratz (BRA)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Heat 10: Dayyan Neve (AUS) vs. Tim Reyes (USA)
Heat 11: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Ben Dunn (AUS)
Heat 12: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)
Heat 13: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Michael Picon (FRA)
Heat 14: Mick Campbell (AUS) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 15: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)
Heat 16: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Chris Ward (USA)
It takes one hell of a storm to make the reef at Kalk Bay work. Tucked inside the large protected zone of False Bay, so named by sailors who mistakenly entered it thinking they'd rounded South Africa's famous Cape, the reef manages to produce a high quality wave amidst the chaos of a severe Roaring Forties storm. Fortunately, that's exactly what bore down on Cape Town during the final days of the 4-Star Cold Water Classic, the latest in Oneill's unique six contest series.
While the outer waters were ravaged by the storm remnants left over by the 40-foot swells that had washed through the day before, Kalk Bay's hollow lefthander held up nicely, producing consistent shacks for the final 16 competitors left standing. Jordy Smith, who was on hand more as an ambassador than a serious competitor since he's currently ranked in number six in the world, wasn't too distraught by his loss to Australia's Glenn Hall. He was actually laughing about the wipeout he took attempting a late takeoff on a hollow little slab.
Hawaiian grom John John Florence was also on hand, surfing well on his way into the man-on-man round of 16, but fell to South Africa's Royden Bryson, who looked strong all day at Kalk Bay while advancing into the final Yet by the time Bryson got into the Semifinals, he was the only South African left standing, with three Aussies standing in his way. Glenn Hall, Jarrad Howse and Maroubra's Blake Thornton, a relative unknown who obviously knows a thing or two about slabs, decimated the local contingent.
In the end, Thornton, 24, and the Bryson, a former ASP World Tour star, squared off in the final in what amounted to a very cool little tube duel, with Thornton hoisting the the faux shark jaws and the check for $12,000. The result is another solid one for Thornton, who was rated 9th on the WQS entering the event. The win should move him up a couple slots, just above Pat Gudauskas.
The next stop on the O'Neill ColdWater Classic Series will be in Canada, for the first ever 6-Star to be held in the Maple Leaf country.
Meanwhile on the other half of the world, the 4-Star WQS Cold Water Classic is well underway in and around Cape Town, which is supposed to be slammed by a huge 40-foot swell in the next 24 hours. According to our forecasters in the region it looks like the contest will be moved into the very protected area of False Bay, which sits on the other side of the Cape, should the swell be as big as predicted. There are a couple really good reef breaks that could be firing, including Kalk Bay, which could be 4-to-6 foot and firing. O'Neill's Marketing Manager, Paul Canning, a former world tour star, has a number of options up his sleeves on the peninsula. "We' (TM)ve asked for a permit at a left hand point break called Thermopylae
in the city,' he said. ' It should be 10 to 12 feet and offshore.'
As they head into the Round of 16, Jordy Smith and John John Florence are the most notable names remaining in the event that's understandably being dominated by South Africans. Hawaii's Granger Larson made the trek down there, and surfed well in the freezing water's of the Cape, but lost in Round Four. If he's smart, he'll be hitching a ride up to J-Bay or Cape St. Francis to ride out what is looking to be a remarkable swell.
South Africans are bracing for their annual invasion of international talent, which will hit overdrive in the the Mr. Price Pro, a 6-Star Prime WQS event, followed by the fifth stop on the ASP world tour, the Billabong Pro at J-Bay. According to Billabong Pro contest director Mike Parsons, "It's been a really god season down there for waves already. Let's just hope it holds up for next month."
South African surfer Jordy Smith is was the talk of the surfing world last year. The highly-touted rookie on the ASP World Tour became one of the highest paid surfers in the business back in 2008. But when he failed to produce any solid results he was being blasted by his critics. But after a late run toward the end of the year, Mr. Smith has clearly turned things around. Now he's not only silencing his critics, he's converting them into fans. The reason? Well, for starters he came out of the gate firing this year. He's now rated 6th place in the world, with no signs of slowing. But it's his most recent accomplishment that has the surfing world buzzing, as Jordy was the first to pull a maneuver that was simply unimaginable just five years ago.
Surfing pundits are now weighing in on this high-flying rotating-flip into a reverse 360, and most are referring to it as the most high-performance maneuver ever executed on a wave. One thing's for sure, surfing is getting incredibly acrobatic. See the evidence for yourself...
Last week was a productive one for surfing's progressive movement, with a rash of ground-breaking acrobatic maneuvers being stuck all across the globe, each netting its own unique result. Things got started in Sumatra, where South Africa's Jordy Smith, the second-year world tour star, was busy filming with the Red Bull crew and enjoying his break in the contest schedule. Smith is no stranger to high-flying aerial variations, but the Rodeo Clown he pulled in the afternoon at Macaronis last week was immediatly being hailed as the best ever executed. It even managed to impress Smith (see below.)
Word had apparently traveled fast, because days later San Clemente's Pat Gudauskas pulled the same move a few island chains over, in the Maldives. The only difference being Gudauskas pulled his while in a competition, which was a first in ASP history. Not content with that, apparently, Gudauskas pulled another one in the Final while trying to claw his way back into contention for the SriLankan Airlines Pro title. Alas, his incredible performance still wasn't enough, because Australian acrobat Owen Wright was averaging ridiculous amounts of hang time in each heat. Wright has now siezed control of the WQS rankings with his very agile aerial antics.
This is undoubtedly a sign of things to come, as the pro surfing world braces itself for the inevitable post-Slater era, which could technically begin in roughly ten days, when the Hang Loose Santa Catarina Pro waiting period begins. Slater has made no secret of the fact that he's not likely to show up. His three lackluster results this year have essentially put him out of world title contention. Naturally, anyone with skin in the pro surfing game will be missing Slater's irreplaceable presence. Pro surfing is facing enough serious headwinds without his departure. Hardcore fans are hoping Rodeo Flips and their high-altitude derivatives can do for surfing what the three-pointer did for the NBA, and what steroids did for baseball (hey, it was still fun to watch before we knew for sure.)