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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Mon, 18 December 2017

Jordy Smith is out of the 2017 title race after a nail-biting matchup with wily veteran Kelly Slater, who is back from injury to break South African hearts. Spike fiddles with the press release.

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TURNING UP THE HEAT: Slater was always a tricky one for Jordy. Photo WSL / Poullenot

In the wake of the broken foam and detritus from the day, there are now only two: Florence and Medina, after they narrowly survived elimination. The permutations are simple now. Florence gets the world title with 1st or 2nd at Pipe. If he falters with a 3rd or a 5th, and Medina wins, the Brazilian raises the trophy. If Florence gets a 9th, Medina needs a 2nd. It's down to the wire.

He looks hungrier than a Rio street kid armed with a Glock and a greedy glint in the eyeIf you're a bookie, be careful you don't put the mockers on Florence by putting bad odds on Medina. That could come back and bite you. He is already a veteran (aged 23) of the cut and thrust of competitive surfing, but has the youth, elasticity and crazy talent (aged 23) with BMT to boot. Oh, and he looks hungrier than a Rio street kid armed with a Glock and a greedy glint in the eye.

It was a crazy day of high tension surfing in peaky but clean 4-6' surf that favoured the rights at the Billabong Pipeline Masters in memory of Andy Irons. The favourite Florence dodged elimination by 0.07 points of a hair's breath in Round 3 at the hands of rookie Ethan Ewing (AUS). Fellow Aussie Julian Wilson stays in the game, but out of contention with Florence through to Rd 4. Gabriel Medina stays in contention after a tough heat - 10.00 vs 9.83 - against veteran Josh Kerr (AUS).

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SWEET SPOT: Florence remains in front, but Medina looks a man possessed. Photo WSL / Cestari

In other news, almost drowned out by the noise, retirees Bede Durbidge and Josh Kerr surfed their last heats as full-time CT competitors, while fellow Aussie Conner O’Leary earned the mantle of Rookie of the Year.

In the final heat of the day, Smith put Slater under pressure with an early 7.00 but Slater - in his first event since breaking his foot at Supers in July - was able to muster two mid-range rides, a 6.70 and 5.17, to overtake Smith under priority.

"He was really sitting deep, behind the boils, behind the deep spots,” said Slater.” It really separates into two waves so I knew he was giving me enough space to find a little sneaky one at Aints. He just was a little too deep and I saw a set coming and I didn't see him move and I looked at the corner of my eye thinking, ‘Is he really not coming over here?’ That one I almost missed it, but that was my 6. Not a high scoring heat, nothing special, but for what was out there I did alright."

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BURNING MAN: Don't discount a big result for the precocious Brazilian. Photo WSL / Poullenot

Wilson may not clinch the World Title this season but the 2014 Pipe Master set the bar in Round 3 with the day’s highest wave score (9.93) to defeat rookie Ezekiel Lau (HAW). His 15.26 score combo'd Lau, who exits with an equal 13th and a safe berth next year after a Top 10 finish on the Qualifying Series.

In the first bout of the day, Medina navigated a tricky tussle with Pipe Invitational winner Dusty Payne (HAW). His first 6.33 came from a Backdoor righthand tube. His second 6.33 came from a backup Pipe barrel on his forehand. Payne warmed up with a double barrel that earned him 7.17 but needed an excellent score after Medina blew it apart with a near-perfect 9.00.

Wilson took down second Pipe Invitational wildcard Benji Brand (HAW) earlier today before facing Lau in Round 3. The heated exchange started with Brand’s two best waves, a 3.17 and 3.70, for in-and-out barrels, but Wilson was not to be outdone by the local threat. With a combined two-wave total of 8.56, the Australian found a backup 4.23 on the final ride of the heat.

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FIGHT ANOTHER DAY: Jordy Smith has a good few years ahead of him. Photo WSL / Poullenot

Earlier in the season, 2007 Pipe Master Bede Durbidge (AUS) announced that he will retire from the CT after the 2018 season to become the Elite Program Manager for team Australia heading into the 2020 Olympics. With a loss in Round 2 to good friend Fanning, it marked Durbidge’s final run after thirteen years on the world tour. Josh Kerr (AUS) also surfed his last heat today just 0.17 points short of the win against Medina in Round 3.

As the veterans said goodbye, the next generation celebrated big winsAs the veterans said goodbye, the next generation celebrated big wins. Connor O’Leary (AUS) won the prestigious Rookie of the Year award over six talented rookies on the CT despite falling to Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in Round 3. Ian Gouveia (BRA) took down top seeds Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in Rounds 2 and 3, respectively. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) also made it to Round 4 after besting Sebastian Zietz (HAW) in Round 2 and 2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) in Round 3.

California’s Conner Coffin (USA) bested three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) in Round 3, hot off a victory at the Vans World Cup. Kolohe Andino (USA) won his Round 2 heat against Jack Freestone (AUS), who lost his requalification for 2018. Andino posted an 8.50 and 8.60 for the highest heat total of the event, a 17.10. He lost his Round 3 heat but maintains a strong lead for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title after a runner-up spot in the Vans World Cup and 5th in the Hawaiian Pro, the two final QS10,000's of the year and start to the 35th annual Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

Surfline are calling for the new NW swell to peak late Sunday into Monday with fun size surf and variable southerlies. A larger, mid to shorter period NNW to N swell will build through Tuesday and continue Wednesday as onshore northerly winds return (light Tuesday but stronger Wednesday).

For more information, check out www.WorldSurfLeague.com

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 2 Results
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.33 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 8.50
Heat 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 11.54 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 10.77
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.56 def. Benji Brand (HAW) 6.87
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) INJ
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.93 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 8.33
Heat 6: Kolohe Andino (USA) 17.10 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 14.96
Heat 7: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 13.40 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.30
Heat 8: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 13.17 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.00
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 6.10 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 5.13
Heat 10: Mick Fanning (AUS) 8.90 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 8.87
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.67 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 6.00
Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.40 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 6.54

Billabong Pipe Masters Round 3 Results
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.26 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 8.34
Heat 2: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.03 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.60
Heat 3: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 8.60 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 6.83
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 8.50 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 5.47
Heat 5: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.13 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 6.57
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 10.87 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 10.80
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 6.60 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 2.26
Heat 8: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.00 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 9.83
Heat 9: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10.26 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 4.17
Heat 10: Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 15.87 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 6.13
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.34 def. Connor O’Leary (AUS) 9.73
Heat 12: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.87 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 7.87

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