With the famous Bells Beach Bowl firing in consistent one to 1.5 metre (three to four foot) swells throughout the day, spectators were treated to some spectacular surfing as the rookies and wildcards dominated round two of the Rip Curl Pro.
The most notable performances of the day came from Hawaiian powerhouse, wildcard Kekoa Bacalso and Australian competition machine Ben Dunn, who defeated seasoned tourers Nathan Hedge (AUS) and Jake Paterson (AUS) respectively.
Bacalso, who earlier this year took out the ASP World Junior Championship, was a late entry into the event being placed in the draw after Brazilian Raoni Monteiro withdrew through injury.
He grabbed hold of the opportunity to mix it with the best with both hands.
“I got the call the day before the event from my team manager Matt Griggs, telling me I was taking Raoni’s spot, said Bacalso. “So I told myself it was game on, don’t do anything stupid and just stay focused.
Throughout the heat Bacalso looked confident and like all wildcards with nothing to lose he threw caution to the wind on numerous occasions.
He will now take on seven-time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion Kelly Slater (USA) in round three and despite his inexperience at the top level he was eager to do more damage.
“I have nothing to lose, said Bacalso. “I’m not on the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour as a full time campaigner, I’m only here to cause upsets so hopefully I can shatter some dreams… and I’ve shattered one already.”
Dunn, who is 2005 ASP Australasian Pro Junior champion, meanwhile surfed an incredibly mature heat to score his upset win over long time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tourer Paterson.
Most youngsters have a tendency to panic and scramble for any wave that comes when placed against senior tourers, but Dunn waited patiently for the best waves of the heat and essentially put his board into some amazing positions as the waves reeled all the way through to the beach.
Dunn, who is actually competing in his fifth top tour event as a wildcard will now face event number two seed and three-time world champion Andy Irons (HAW) and like Bacalso was looking forward to the experience.
“I’m obviously extremely happy to get through, said Dunn. “I get to surf round three. Every heat you surf at this level means more and more experience. I’m really looking forward to going into a man-on-man heat with Andy Irons.”
Maintaining the solid form that saw him land in third place in his first-ever top tour event held in March on Australia’s Gold Coast, Bobby Martinez (USA) easily disposed of Brazilian Yuri Sodre in heat eight of the round.
Martinez, surfing for the first time at Bells Beach, consistently executed some extreme backside vertical turns and had the mass of onlookers on their feet cheering for more.
“It was hard. I didn’t really know what to expect, said Martinez. “I just knew that there were good waves and I took off on many that I thought would be okay and they weren’t. It’s not an easy wave to read. I just got lucky finding a set that opened up for me a little bit and let me do a couple turns.
Martinez is revelling in the whole tour experience as a first timer, enjoying each new location he encounters. In coming to Bells he had some flashbacks of watching the break on video as a grommet.
“I’ve never been here before, said Martinez. “This is all new to me. It’s cool to check out a different place and surf this wave. When I first arrived here I tripped out because I remember seeing former tourers like Sunny Garcia and Ritchie Collins in the videos from back in their day, so I was like, ‘this is cool, this is the place.'”
Notching up the highest score of the day was 2001 world champion CJ Hobgood who locked in 17 points out of a possible 20.
In scintillating form he surfed with amazing speed and precision as he put his board on some serious edge throughout the heat.
He defeated Nic Muscroft (AUS) who entered the event via finishing in the top tthree of the Rip Curl Pro trials.
At the time of going to press organisers were looking to further complete heats 12 and 13 today.
Organisers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7am to assess conditions. There is every chance that the event will run at 7.30am local time given that the swell is forecast to be on the increase overnight.
Good Friday (tomorrow April 14) will also signal the start of the all new live music festival on site at Bells Beach. Music will start at 12pm and climax in the afternoon with headline act DJ Greyboy (USA).
To get the full rundown go to www.aspworldtour.com or www.ripcurl.com/ripcurlpro and head to news updates and the notes and quotes section located inside the Media Centre.
Round two results:
Heat 1: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 15.33 def Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.67
Heat 2: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 13.67 def Nathan Hedge (AUS) 9.94
Heat 3: Bruce Irons (HAW) 14.50 def Adam Robertson (AUS) 9.67
Heat 4: CJ Hobgood (USA) 17.00 def Nic Muscroft (AUS) 15.83
Heat 5: Ben Dunn (AUS) 13.33 def Jake Paterson (AUS) 9.83
Heat 6: Dean Morrison (AUS) 16.83 def Jihad Khodr (BRA) 11.73
Heat 7: Jarrad Howse (AUS) 12.34 def Adriano de Souza (BRA) 8.87
Heat 8: Bobby Martinez (USA) 16.50 def Yuri Sodre (BRA) 9.83
Heat 9: Taylor Knox (USA) 14.00 def Pedro Henrique (BRA) 10.67
Heat 10: Mick Lowe (AUS) 15.00 def Travis Logie (ZAF) (9.66)
Heat 11: Chris Ward (USA) 16.17 def Troy Brooks (AUS) 12.60