The people have spoken: Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Gabriel Medina and Josh Kerr will be moving on to round two of X Games Real Surf.
Slater, an 11-time world champ, fronts the pack with a tightly produced edit comprised mostly of footage shot in the Caribbean. There are some moments from both Australia's Gold Coast and the North Shore of Hawaii that serve as noteworthy accents, but when it comes to effect, Slater shines in his more local waters. He'll now go up against Gabriel Medina. Over 20 years his junior, Medina's the youngest competitor in Real Surf. Anchored by his Off-The-Wall backflip, Medina's part is non-stop and high-flying, but may lack the variety to overtake Slater's well-rounded rail-work and tube acumen. But what do we know? You're the ones voting.
On the other side of the draw, Jordy Smith will be paired up against Josh Kerr. The standout moment of Smith's clip comes in the form of a strobing, sand-bottomed right-hand pointbreak. Social-media chatter points to the wave as being a good day at Kirra, but the safe money's on Mozambique, just a few clicks up the coast from Smith's native South Africa. As far as the "get me on a plane" factor, Smith's got it. But Kerr, the aerial journeyman, has proved time and again he won't be denied. There's not a flaw to be found in his repertoire, and his edit reflects this.
Ultimately the four surfers to advance are those who feature prominently on the ASP World Tour roster. While the Jaws paddle-in moments with Albee Layer, the rotations of Matt Meola, the artistic elevation of Dion Agius and the spontaneity of Chippa Wilson proved to be not quite enough to overthrow the establishment, their performances were inspired nonetheless.
X Games Real Surf round-two voting runs from April 9-15. The crowning of a winner, who will receive X Games gold for his effort, will coincide with X Games Foz Do Iguacu. Get your vote in early and stay tuned: Real Surf's about to get very real.