Day three in Fiji: young guns find form

by stab March 08, 2016 4 min read

Story by Craig Jarvis

It’s not often that you see Taj Burrow in a combo situation. It’s just not really what happens to him. He always gets a couple of bangers under his belt regardless of the conditions, and after so many years on tour he knows what to do to appease the judges. Yet against John John Florence he just couldn’t climb out of it, no matter what he did. The waves were decent enough, and the opportunities were there, but the young gun found his rhythm and Taj was left needing all the way to the end. There have been enough calls for the young guns, for the charge of the new crew, and this was yet another perfectly symbolic heat of this charge.

“It was starting to get slow out there,” said John John of the conditions. “My surfing hasn’t felt that bad all year but I’ve made a few mistakes here and there. I definitely hate coming up against Gabby but I’m stoked to be in the quarters against him.”

Taj’s longtime tour compatriot Joel Parkinson found himself in a different situation altogether, up against the young but experienced Brazilian, Adriano De Souza. Adriano picked up a set wave in the beginning and was rewarded with a solid seven-point ride that left Parko chasing his tail. Parko’s reply was an ugly-as-guts floater over a big section that saw him tapping, tapping, tapping on the roof before dropping back down and falling into a half-layback recovery. His score of 3.5 was about right, and up against Adriano’s somewhat ungainly style, it was turning into a grim heat of unattractive surfing. On his fifth wave, Parko picked up a good one, stabbed it twice, and got caught behind as the wave peeled perfectly down the reef, and it was becoming obvious why he has never really done that well in Fiji. Needing a 6.51 with two minutes left, Parko let a good one go, and paddled and missed another one, handing priority over to the Brazilian. Picking up a small one, Parko didn’t get the score. The win went to Adriano, and Parko went to join Taj at the bar.

Adriano has been on the tour for nine years now and has been passionate and tenacious since he started. He doesn’t have a good style but he wins heats, and for that he deserves credit, but wow. Taj and Parko out of the picture in back-to-back heats.

“I just got very lucky out there in 30 minutes,” said Adriano. “I think I’m so small and tiny, and no one can see me out there and maybe that’s why I get lucky.”

Looking back at the somewhat uninteresting non-elimination round four, Nat Young won the first heat, and Kelly Slater the second, in two very close heats in the decent Cloudbreak conditions. The third heat saw Gabby show good variation on his forehand for the win, and Kolohe Andino put Adriano and Taj into round five with his heat win. Still not such a fan of this non-elimination round, it didn’t really do much for anyone, except for waste some time on a dropping swell.

By the time Nat Young and Mick Fanning got out there for the first quarter, there were not that many waves coming through. Nat chased anything that moved, while Mick sat and waited for the sets. It was the goofy-footer’s approach that saw him win easily, while Fanning was literally nowhere throughout the heat.

The Michel Bourez and Kelly Slater quarter was the one that everyone wanted to watch. The 11-time world champion up against the most on-form surfer of the year, with two event wins under his belt already and a legitimate world title campaign on the go. Of their 12 previous encounters, Kelly has eight wins. Michel started off strong, and put a six-pointer and a 7.33 on the table, while Slater changed boards after a very poor start that included an uncharacteristic nosedive and a ludicrous rodeo attempt. Kelly was left in need of a 9.5 mid-way through the heat. Yep, plenty of time for our champ. Eventually he picked up a smaller wave and went to town, with his replacement board looking good underfoot. It came in at a decent 5.07. “Finally posting a score without a wipeout,” said Pottz wryly. Chasing an 8.26, we all expected Kelly to bring the magic, even in the deteriorating conditions. It didn’t happen. Kelly took off on a final closeout, and his Fiji campaign was over.

In the final two heats of the day we saw more huge matchups between Gabby and John John, and man-of-the-hour Kolohe take on Adriano. As expected, Gabriel hit the water like a bat out of hell, doing whatever it took to secure a win over John John, which he did with relative ease. There were a few powerful exchanges between Kolohe and Adriano, with the Brazilian (almost) finding the tube of the day. Kolohe cemented his status as one of the standout performers of the event, recording an 18.36 heat total to close the lid on the quarters.

Round three results:

Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.36 def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 9.60
Heat 8: John John Florence (HAW) 16.17 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 4.03
Heat 9: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.63 def. Freddy Patacchia Jr (HAW) 15.10
Heat 10: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18.63 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.56
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.07 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.60
Heat 12: Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.24 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.74

Round four results:

Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) 13.83, Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.74, Michel Bourez (PYF) 6.13
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.00, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.77, Owen Wright (HAW)13.07
Heat 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.20, John John Florence (HAW) 10.93, Joel Parkinson (AUS)9.83
Heat 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.27, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.14, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.37

Round five results:

Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.90 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 14.86
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.44 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 8.20
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 16.70 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.34
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.67 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.10

Quarterfinal results:

QF 1: Nat Young (USA) 14.27 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 7.50
QF 2: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.33 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 8.90
QF 3: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.20 def. John John Florence (HAW) 6.34
QF 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) 18.36 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.07

Semifinal match-ups:

Heat 1: Nat Young (USA) VS Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) VS Kolohe Andino (USA)

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