The first three rounds of the 2017 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach are in the books and with 12 men left standing, we go back to what went well and what went sour during the early rounds of the competition.
Most of the heats in round one had mid-range scores but a few standouts set themselves apart from the rest in the opener. Kolohe Andino was one of the only three men to score 9.00 and above. His 9.00 ride in Heat five came off a series of solid turns and climaxed with a good air reverse, capped off with a solid turn on the inside section.
The world champion John John Florence, who has been surfing at a different level throughout the Australian leg for 2017, started off with a combination of solid waves in round one heat six. His 9.03 came off from a solid turn to start with, then climaxed with a good 360 aerial and capped off with a tight snap, all done in a very short space on the wave with only a few minutes left in the heat.
Filipe Toledo had an almost perfect heat total of 19.70 out of a possible 20.00, with a combination of a 9.70 and a perfect 10.00 ride. Toledo went for a frontside aerial spin, then topped it up with an aerial rail grab and landed tail-first, then finished it with a solid snap. He raked in a perfect 10.00, nothing less than worthy of the highlight reel.
There were more 9.00 and higher rides in round two, but only two guys managed to get a combination of two 9.00 range scores – Hawaii’s Ezekiel Lau and three-time World Champion Mick Fanning.
Ezekiel got a 9.00 and a 9.40 in heat four of the elimination round two against Conner Coffin. Zeke took his first nine-point ride after a series of solid turns that came with good flowing variation. He paid much attention to each maneuver and made it nice and clean. His second excellent score came off from beautiful carves powering through his rail surfing technique and finished it off with a big layback hack, and it earned him a ticket to round three.
Mick Fanning faced off with Junior World Champ Ethan Ewing and he put on a clinic against the younger competitor. Mick got a 9.20 starting from his solid layback hack, and a series of beautiful and well-executed turns done in ultra-fast speedy surfing. Fanning, being known to be one of the fastest surfers on the planet, made a statement with this solid performance. But he was not done with just one excellent score. He backed it up with another 9.00 ride off from a good variety of radical turns and snaps. With his solid performance, Mick Fanning proceeded to the third round with ease.
Round three saw some big losses. Gabriel Medina lost to Frederico Morais and got eliminated. This is the second early round elimination that Medina has suffered throughout the Australian leg of the World Tour. This pushes him further down the rankings for World Title contention.
Kolohe Andino, who ranked third in the World Title race post Margie’s pro, got eliminated in round three after losing to Ezekiel Lau by a 1.67 margin. This will also bring him a negative result in the Jeep rankings. Kelly Slater lost to Mick Fanning in their superheat. Mick won by a 1.07 margin and heads on to round four.
Who will take home the trophy this year? Will John Florence keep the yellow Jersey? Stay tuned as the competition heads to the next rounds.
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