As the Quiksilver Pro fired through round five and the quarterfinals it became obvious, nobody was going to take their foot off the gas. Joel Parkinson, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning, the top three surfers in the world, along with Tahitian dark horse Michel Bourez, kept their feet pinned to the accelerator.
It started with Bourez in round five. Facing Frenchman Jeremy Flores, Bourez put the wood to him early, getting the proceedings going with a near-perfect 9.93 on his first wave. He never looked back. Using momentum to his advantage, he went on to eliminate last year's Quik Pro champ Taj Burrow in the quarters. Bourez went through the challenging transition of becoming a new father last year and had to dig deep to re-qualify for the tour. This year he's back, surfing with newfound power, and looks focused, confident and better than ever.
"I'm feeling healthy and hopefully I can keep surfing well and make my first final on tour," said Bourez afterward.
The rest of round five saw scrappy, low scoring heats due to very tricky conditions at Snapper Rocks. The sand bar at Snapper is still filling back in and with the increase in swell it was really hard to find the right waves. Joel Parkinson came from behind in the dying minutes to take out Adam Melling, while Bede Durbidge beat Brett Simpson and Matt Wilkinson took out Travis Logie. In all three heats wave selection proved to be the determining factor.
After the Bourez/Burrow quarterfinal, with conditions deteriorating, the contest went on hold. When the brief interlude subsided, Parko and Julian Wilson got down to business. Parko opened with a 10-point ride, Wilson countered, fighting back with an 8.8, but just couldn't find another score to over take the current world champ.
"I couldn't find the right waves," noted a disappointed Wilson. "I got myself back into it, but I don't think I picked the waves that gave me the best scoring opportunities."
Somebody that does know a thing or two about scoring opportunities is Kelly Slater. Slater came out blazing against Bede Durbidge, posting a 9.4. As he's prone to do, he just kept applying the pressure until Durbidge was beat into submission. The 11-time world champ is looking focused, razor sharp and with a magic new board under his feet he may be unstoppable.
"I'm on a new board so I didn't feel great during the start of that heat, but it felt better with each wave and was feeling really good by the end. The waves are fun and really improved following the hold," said Slater.
Mick Fanning would like to think that Slater is in fact stoppable. Fanning cruised to victory against Matty Wilkinson in the last quarterfinal heat of day. Fanning hasn't missed a beat all event, and will now face Slater in the semifinals.
"It was a solid heat for me and I feel good heading into tomorrow's final day," said Fanning.
"Mick and I have a lot of history together," smiled Slater, alluding to the battle that's to come. Last year the two met in the finals at Bell Beach and delivered one of the most enlightening and talked about heats of the year. Hopefully we see more of the same.
The stage has been set for the semis, and with three out of four competitors in last year's world title race still in the mix it will surely be an action packed final day.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.10 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.33
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.83 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 11.83
Heat 3: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.67 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 11.00
Heat 4: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.67 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.24
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.67 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.77
QF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.27 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 8.80
QF 3: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.03 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.40
QF 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.00 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.00
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINAL MATCH-UPS:
SF 1: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
SF 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)