Eight competitors remained on the morning of the 7th day of the waiting period. Three Australian’s, three Brazilians, a South African and an American duked it out, with the winner crowned before lunch.
The surfers were confronted with clean 4-6 foot conditions, with the odd 7+ foot set rolling through.
The first match-up of the Quarterfinals saw the all Australian duel between Taj Burrow and Kai Otton. Good waves were few and far between with only 3 waves being scored above a 7.00. Unfortunately for Otton, two of these went to Burrow who looked the more comfortable of the two.
Nat Young continued to impress, with the Steamer Lane local building more momentum in a QF win over the impressive Willian Cardoso.
QF 3 saw the match up of the round. Mick Fanning and Adriano De Souza were both pencilled in as favourites of the remaining to ring the bell. By far the best heat of the round with the lead changing six times, while Fanning was forced to surf a wave with a creased board on his way in for a board exchange. Fanning may have thought he had done enough with two minutes to go, but De Souza answered back with some exciting power surfing knocking out the defending champ scoring a 7.00 on a wave at the hooter.
Jordy Smith made light work of Brazilian, Filipe Toledo in the last QF. Smith looked so at home, combining powerful manoeuvres with great wave selection.
Conditions started to deteriorate as the day went on with wind-squalls rolling through every 20 minutes or so. Wind direction changed and the wave faces started to get bumpy, which saw the competitors really have to focus on wave selection.
Semi-final 1 saw giant killer Nat Young taking on the only remaining Australian, Taj Burrow. Burrow looked very busy, catching 8 waves in the heat but he struggled to lock in a high score. Young, as he has been doing during the entire event, was very patient locking in his high score of 8.80 with three minutes to go. This was enough to knock out the West-Australian who was visibly disappointed when he got out of the water.
Semi-final 2 was a match up worthy of the final. De Souza took a massive amount of confidence out of his quarterfinal victory over Fanning. While Jordy Smith made surfing the Bells bowl look effortless, throwing down huge turns on every wave he took.
Smith, a two time Jeffery’s Bay winner, had taken a hiatus during the offseason with a friend, heading to Mozambique to surf right hand point breaks by themselves. The move looks to have paid off; he is relaxed, happy and certainly has his rhythm back.
SF 2 was the heat of the Rip Curl Pro, a real nail biter, right down to the wire.
Smith opened with a 9.53, which included an amazing sequence of turns and a strong finishing moves on the inside section, something the judges have been rewarding during the course of the event. He wasn’t finished there, backing up his high score with an 8.00 on his next wave.
This sequence seemed to kick De Souza into gear, showing his power and style posting a heat high of 9.27 with thirteen minutes to go. Incredibly, 2 minutes later he posted an 8.77, catapulting him into the lead. Both surfers traded low 8’s in the later stages of the heat before De Souza posted a 9.17 with some impressive vertical re-entries.
This left Smith needing an 8.91 on his last wave, which he took just before the hooter sounded. Smith threw down some massive open face carves, finishing with a fearless attack on the lip. When he exited the water, we were none the wiser on who had won the heat. You could cut the tension on the beach with a knife, and the judges took their time mulling over replays of the wave. After 5 or so minutes Smith was awarded an 8.87, missing out on the win by 4 hundredths of a point.
It is doubtful anyone would have picked the final of the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach 2013. Both competitors had earned their places, while De Souza is somewhat of a tour veteran Young is in his first year on tour.
Mark Occhilupo is the last goofy foot surfer to ring the famous bell, and with De Souza in the form he was in, Young’s job was not going to be easy.
De Souza started strongly posting two low 7’s before Young could get anything above a 2.0. Young managed to pick up a 7.5 around fifteen minutes into the heat with some huge backhand carves. He however, struggled to get back in the heat with De Souza leading for the final 30 minutes.
De Souza posted an 8.83 with sixteen minutes to go, and Young responded with an impressive ride of his own totalling 8.33. With five minutes to go and De Souza leading by 7.93, Young held priority and the heat was there for the taking.
In these situations the surfers are at the mercy of a somewhat temperamental mother nature. Young, hoping for some swell to roll in from the horizon got his wish, but it appeared mother nature had the last laugh. A four wave, 10 foot close-out set washed through Bells, sweeping the surfers down the point, out of position. Spending the last three or so minutes paddling, Young failed to recover and get himself in the right spot to catch any more waves before the final siren.
De Souza, visibly thrilled with his win, is now the only Brazilian male to win the converted trophy. With the next event in his home country of Brazil, he is sure to have a spring in his step and is a serious contender for the 2013 World Title.