MARGARET RIVER, Western Australia: After a thrilling showdown in the Women’s Final earlier in the day, Men’s Round 3 saw 12 surfers leave the competition. There were major upsets with a re-surf of Heat 1 and the elimination of top seeds Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson, as well as standout performances from Yadin Nicol and Gabriel Medina.
Following an unfortunate incident where Taj Burrow (AUS) became entangled in Bede Durbidge’s (AUS) leash while paddling with priority for a potentially heat-changing wave, event officials organized a re-surf of Round 3 Heat 1. The re-surf saw Burrow come out of the gates firing in an attempt to secure his place in Round 4, detonating a 7.33 and 7.60 with his signature forehand flare. Durbidge had a 6.60 in his scoreline, and was in need of an excellent score in the final minutes of the affair to ensure victory. Durbidge delivered, detonating an incredible 8.60 for a series of powerful forehang gouges, surpassing Burrow for the lead and taking his place in Round 4 where will face Josh Kerr and Jordy Smith.
“It was definitely not the way I saw today going,” said Bede Durbidge. “It was really hard on me and hard on Taj (Burrow). It was a very unfortunate thing that happened. I just had to dig deep because I didn’t want to surf or go back out there. I put my head down, dusted myself off and got back to surfing. It was pretty draining and I’m going to sleep well tonight. I wasn’t going to lose that Heat, I felt that I deserved to get through and I didn’t do anything wrong this morning. I wanted to be in Round 4 and I’m glad I’m there.”
Yadin Nicol (AUS) delivered a mind-blowing performance in Round 3 Heat 6, upsetting reigning three-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS). Nicol posted the day’s high scores by launching a huge, full rotation aerial on his first maneuver followed by a series of frontside bashes for a near-perfect 9.77. The score left Fanning in search of a combination of scores and was unable to deliver. Nicol sails through to Round 4 where he will face Miguel Pupo and Gabriel Medina.
“I was scared the whole Heat and I’m really happy to win,” said Yadin Nicol. “Mick (Fanning) and I had a good battle at Pipe and and he’s such a good competitor. I feel less pressure now and I can surf a little freer. I grew up here and I feel so comfortable at Margaret River. I know which waves to go for and that helps.”
“I surf here at Margaret River lot and I’ve been here many times,” said Mick Fanning. “I know it’s a tricky wave and I just got beaten here on the day. It will be good to go home for a while before Bells Beach. The next stop is always a good event for me and it’s like a second home so I’m looking forward to it. I hope we get some good waves and all the best to Yadin (Nicol) for the rest of the event.”
Heat 9 was battle between progressive regular footers Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Julian Wilson (AUS) with one standout wave from each competitor combined with a series of small backups. Wilson was first to strike, delivering a series of precise forehand blows, establishing a lead via a 7.17. The young Brazilian was able to answer, however, unloading a massive forehand gouge followed by a full rotation air for an 8.00, overtaking Wilson for the Heat win and a place in Round 4.
“I woke up in the morning and my shoulder was hurting really badly,” said Filipe Toledo. “I didn’t surf for two days. I’m feeling a lot of pain but I tried to do some airs and it worked so I’m pleased. I was really confident for this contest and this is a good start for me. I’m really excited to be here with all the Brazilians.”
A next-generation battle unfolded in Heat 5, with current ASP WCT No. 1 Gabriel Medina (BRA) up against prodigious Hawaiian John John Florence on the rights at Main Break. Medina gave one of the standout performances of the day and was first to strike in the Heat with a series of backhand blasts for a 7.67. He quickly found a 5-point backup ride to solidify an early lead. Florence answered with a series of turns and big forehand air for an 8.50 but Medina was able to reclaim his lead with a backhand snap to air-reverse combo for an 8.77. Medina secured victory over Florence and a place Round 4.
“I was nervous when I found out I was going to surf against John John (Florence),” said Gabriel Medina. “It’s always hard to face him because he’s an amazing surfing. We’ve had a lot of matchups against each other and we’re really competitive. I just try and focus on my own game and do the best I can. It’s great to surf against someone like John John because we push each other and it’s always exciting”.
11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) also moves through to Round 4 after a relatively low-scoring affair against Jadson Andre (BRA). Slater was first to score with his venomous forehand attack, locking in a 5 and 6. Andre answered back with a five of his own and found a wave in the dying seconds but fell shy of the 7 he needed to win. Slater will face Michel Bourez and Filipe Toledo in the next Round while Andre leaves in equal 13th place.
“I felt like I surfed okay on what I had but the sections weren’t coming together on the right angles for me,” said Kelly Slater. “This wave is so tricky, it’s really difficult. I keep coming too hard off the bottom and you really can’t do a deep bottom turn because there’s no lip up there. You really have to wait for those steep sections. I cna see it from the beach but being out there is a different story”.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1 Re-Surf: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 15.20 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.90
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.23 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 6.23
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.10 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 9.67
Heat 4: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.34 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 9.67
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.44 def. John John Florence (HAW) 13.00
Heat 6 : Yadin Nicol (AUS) 16.94 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 9.83
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.56 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.47
Heat 8: Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.87 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 9.70
Heat 9: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.57 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.00
Heat 10: Nat Young (USA) 12.26 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.03
Heat 11: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 12.50 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 11.40
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.50 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 5.23
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Round 4 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS), Josh Kerr (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF)
Heat 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Filipe Toledo (BRA)
Heat 4: Nat Young (USA), Adriano De Souza (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS)
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