High flying action in round 3 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast

GRINDTV NEWSWIRE via ASP WORLD TOUR-The world’s best surfers lit up the three-to-four foot (1.5 metre) swell on offer at Snapper Rocks today as the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover completed Round 3 of competition.

The opening event of the 2011 ASP World Title season, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast saw conditions improve for today’s Round 3, with the best performances of the event being logged by the ASP Top 34.

Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, 2010 ASP World Runner-Up, put in the performance of the day, posting a 17.17 out of a possible 20 for an unmatched affinity with the barrel, massive turns and aerials. The high-fi exhibition was enough to eliminate replacement surfer Cory Lopez (USA), 33.

“I was pretty nervous going into my heat,” Smith said. “Cory (Lopez), I know how well he surfs and I didn’t want to get stuck behind the rocks. Matt (Wilkinson) and those guys psyched me up and it was fun out there surfing with one other guy.”

Finishing Runner-Up at this event last season as well as in the hunt for the ASP World Title, the big South African is confident in his abilities and mind frame in 2011.

“I’m feeling really good,” Smith said. “I feel confident. I have nice boards under my feet and am taking it one event at a time. I’m having fun with it.”

Smith will face Brett Simpson (USA), 26, and Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, when competition resumes.

Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 22, into his sophomore year amongst the ASP Top 34, put on an electric performance in Round 3 today. The progressive goofy-footer blasted away at the bowly righthanders, netting a 9.27 out of a possible 10 along the way. The performance included at nearly-completed rodeo flip that had the tens of thousands in attendance on the feet.

“It was fun out there,” Wilkinson said. “I think the more nervous I get the better I surf. I paddled out too early and had too much time to think. I didn’t know if I was going to get anything. I nearly pulled a massive rodeo and got excited about halfway though, I was thinking ‘I’ve done everything perfect’ but I think I just spun it a little too much. I thought I had that thing, I was so close. It felt good and it’s good to get the crowd on their feet so I’m stoked. Dane’s (Reynolds) always the most exciting guy at every event so hopefully I can take his spot while he’s not here. I was just trying to find some little waves and find some wally ones.”

It marks a stellar start for the Copacabana kid, one in which he’ll hope to capitalize as the season progresses.

“The whole heat really turns into a blur,” Wilkinson said. “If you get a wave that lines up and you ride it all the way through you’re right back on the ski and back into the lineup looking for another one and still haven’t caught your breath. I’m just happy to be into Round 4.”

Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, went out and put on a clinic of his own today, taking down wildcard Matt Banting (AUS), 16, with an incredible display of barrel-riding, progressive turns and aerials.

“I actually started getting a little distracted before my heat because Wilko (Matt Wilkinson) is one of my favorites to watch,” Slater said. “Sometimes he doesn’t make it, but he always pulls something big out of his bag. There are a couple of guys that are really exciting to watch here on their backhand.”

“It was fun,” Slater said. “I got a couple of good waves and fell on the best wave of the heat. I probably would have got a 9 if I just stood there, so that’s a little frustrating. It was a fun heat though. I felt like I had two solid scores. My first board felt good, but I felt like I consolidated on a few good scores and wanted to try a new one (board) out.”

Slater will battle Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 22, and Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, when Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast competition recommences.