William Cardoza versus Kelly Slater, the result would seem to be a foregone conclusion. But by posting an 8.01 on his opening wave of the Rip Curl Pro's third round, Cardoza got the ball rolling early against Slater. He never looked back. Slater chose waves that ran fast along the reef, forcing him to pull in to some high and tight barrels. The tubes he found were clean, but small and the judges didn't reward the champ for the effort. In contrast, Cardoza found open waves that allowed him to throw down some huge power turns to post a 16.66 total and take the win over the 11-time world champion.
Cardoza simply stated, "That was the biggest moment of my life."
Slater, apparently suffering a back injury, revealed, "I tweaked my back a few days ago and am nowhere near 100 percent, so I need to get a MRI and see what's wrong with my back, but it's good. I have a few weeks to rest up for Brazil."
In the next heat Raoni Monteiro followed Cardoza's lead by posting a 9.5 on his first wave against current world champ Joel Parkinson. Logging a 10 and 9.1, Parkinson came back, but ended up conceding the heat.
"Yeah it's definitely frustrating getting a 10 and 9.1 and losing," said Parkinson. "I just told Raoni, 'Take it to them and try and win the bell.'"
After overcoming a major ankle injury in 2012, Monterio got the wildcard for 2013 and is showed he deserves to be on tour by posting the highest heat total of the event, a 19.17.
The Brazilian contingent kept the roll going as Adriano de Souza and rookie Filipe Toledo also won their round three heats with top-flight performances. The passion and competitiveness of the South Americans is incredible and they are proving that Brazil is ready to challenge for its first world title.
The Hobgood brothers had an epic goofy-foot battle, displaying beautiful and radical backside surfing. They went blow for blow, posting high eight-point rides and even had a heated priority battle, but CJ ended up taking the win with a 9.23 at the end of the heat.
"He got a little intense there, but we're brothers and we'll always have each other's back," noted Damien while watching the next round.
Jordy Smith continued his blistering form and could very well win this whole thing. Easily defeating Alejo Muniz, who suffered from a very inconsistent second half of the heat, Smith's surfing has been loose, flowing and very powerful.
"Massive upsets today with Kelly and Joel going down early," Smith said, who seemed motivated by the fact that the top two surfers in the world were now out of the event. "Parko was ripping too, huh? Losing with a 10 and a 9? That doesn't happen very often. It definitely opens up the World Title race though and everyone left in the field will be thinking about it heading into the next few days."
Mick Fanning surfed flawless against Tiago Pires to advance, and although he downplayed Slater and Parkinson losing by saying, "It's not that big of an advantage -- I have the hard side of the draw," it was obvious he wants to seize this rare opportunity to gain ground in the title race.
Round four and five were equally action packed and unpredictable. Again, Smith led the way with a 19.10 total placing him straight in the quarterfinals and looking like the in-form surfer of the event. The Rookies also had a big day with Felipe Toledo taking to the air to beat Hobgood and advance to the quarters. Nat Young had a huge come-from-behind victory to advance over Josh Kerr and make his first quarter.
"To be into the quarters at Bells is a dream come true and I'll do my best to bring it home for the goofy-footers," said Young.
Taj Burrow, Fanning and de Souza also advanced to the quarters with committed, full-rail power surfing. The Rip Curl Pro is expected to conclude tomorrow, and it looks to be an exciting finish to an incredible event.
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH REMAINING ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.50 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.17
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 17.47 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.16
Heat 6: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 16.66 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 14.96
Heat 7: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 19.17 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 19.10
Heat 8: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 18.06 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.74
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18.67 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.00
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.10 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.56
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.27 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.60
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) 18.50 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 14.73
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kai Otton (AUS) 15.87, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.03, Nat Young (USA) 10.36
Heat 2: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 16.50, Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.40, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.00
Heat 3: Raoni Monteiro (BRA), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 19.10, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.67, Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.03
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.23 def. Adriano Buchan (AUS) 15.33
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 15.50 ef. Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.13
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.37 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 14.63
Heat 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 18.34 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.94
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
QF 2: Willian Cardoso (BRA) vs. Nat Young (AUS)
QF 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS)
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)