After five long lay days, the Oakley Pro Bali kicked back in gear today as a fresh swell filled into Keramas overnight. Clean, green six-foot barrels spun perfectly down the reef as dawn broke, and soon after sunrise, the world's best surfers were busy slotting into them.
The highlight of the round was the full-on barrel shoot out between Joel Parkinson and Damian Hobgood. It was a classic match up of goofy versus regular in really hollow, perfect conditions. Parkinson had a couple of really deep barrels, showing complete effortlessness as he would come flying into deep cutbacks. Hobgood was equally impressive with incredible backside tube riding technique, as he weaved deep through some serious barrel sections. When the dust settled, Parkinson was left with a 18.60 in his score line to Hobgood's 18.26. It's great for the sport to see such heated battles, but one always feels for the guy who lost with two nine-point rides.
"We had non-stop waves for the heat and were just going back-and-forth on exchanges," said Parkinson after the heat. "I've been coming to Keramas for years and it's one of my favorite waves in the world. The conditions this morning were absolutely incredible -- sheet glass and big barrels. You can't really ask for much more."
Then it was John John Florence's turn to step into the spotlight. Facing Hawaiian compadre Sebastian Zietz, the two went toe to toe in a rematch of their spectacular round 1 battle. No 10-point airs this time around, but Florence seized the moment and the heat by showing incredible tube riding and carving technique. His double hand back cutback was absolutely insane. Florence is back with a vengeance and it's really hard to see anyone beating him. His repertoire is limitless, and with good boards under his feet, it's basically his contest to lose.
"We had a really good Round 1 with lots of high scores and the waves this morning are ones that we both like to surf in," said Florence. "Unfortunately for Bass, he broke his board on his opening wave and I think that put him out of rhythm for the rest of the heat."
Kelly Slater has yet to have a good heat in Bali, but he keeps moving through the rounds -- a pattern that typically means he'll peak in the final and win the event. He was lucky to get past nervous local Putra Hermawan, who fell on the biggest tube of the morning. Slater thanked him afterwards for blowing that one, because he would have lost the heat if he would have made it. Slater also wore a knee brace, revealing that he's still struggling with a nagging injury since last year.
"There weren't a lot of opportunities and the few that came through, he (Hermawan) had them. I was lucky that he didn't end up taking advantage of them," said Slater.
Soon after Slater's win, Julian Wilson and Jeremy Flores dueled in a heat that went south for Flores when he sliced his ankle early on. Wilson punted to a convincing victory as the conditions deteriorated. In the following heat, Nat Young showed again that he's got the most technically solid and consistent backhand on tour since Bobby Martinez in a win over fellow goofy Kai Otton.
In the last heat of the day, a rising onshore wind and swiftly dropping tide wreaked havoc on the Keramas lineup, but Fred Patacchia was able to go out and stick it to world number two Jordy Smith. It was the upset of the event so far.
As for the Oakley Bali Pro, the waves look to hold. And with a new swell on tap for Thursday, this thing could be over by week's end. Stay tuned.
OAKLEY PRO BALI ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.83 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 9.17
Heat 2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.10 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.67
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.60 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 18.26
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.70 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 6.77
Heat 5: John John Florence (HAW) 16.07 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 13.87
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.96 def. Putra Hermawan (IDN) 8.90
Heat 7: Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.53 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 9.73
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.74 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 9.94
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA) 16.10 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 15.03
Heat 10: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.73 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.67
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.94 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 8.94
Heat 12: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 12.50 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.34
UPCOMING OAKLEY PRO BALI ROUND 4 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS), John John Florence (HAW), Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS), Julian Wilson (AUS), Nat Young (USA)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)