Cold sideshore winds and rain greeted the crowd as they made their way onto the beach today at Supertubes after a couple of lay days at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal. The overnight storm hadn't done much damage to the contest structure or the contest sandbanks but the rain had knocked out the Internet and one of the generators caught fire. And the day's biggest drama was still a couple of hours away.
Raoni Monteiro, in his first event since damaging his knee in Fiji, walked down to the water's edge followed by his opponent Kelly Slater. It's doubtful many of the large and dedicated Portuguese crowd was aware of the significance of the heat.
The conditions were less than ideal with a rip running through the middle of the break and not a lot of clean open face waves on offer, but in the previous heat, Parkinson had wave scores of 8.40 and 6.33 points. It probably wasn't until the last 10 minutes of the heat that anyone seriously considered the possibility that Slater wasn't going to get through. Neither surfer had really put any scoring waves on the board even though Monteiro had a 5.50 for a small one with three turns.
As the time ticked down and both surfers started hunting the lineup for a good scoring wave, the prospect of Slater losing and the consequences on the world title race started to sink in. In the competitors area, the significance of Slater finishing the event with an equal 13th place and 1750 rating points had people looking around and giving little nods or raised eyebrows.
There is a massive jump in points after an equal 13th place finish -- 4000 for an equal 9th place, going up to 10,000 points for a contest win. With the World Title decided on the best eight results from the ten events this year Slater was already carrying a 25th place because of his no show due to injury in Brazil and an equal 13th for his early exit from the Billabong Pro in Tahiti. Another equal 13th basically negates one of his three wins when all the points are added up.
"I'm just a little mad at myself," said Slater about the loss.
"I didn't really talk to Damien Hardman or any of the other surfers. I just walked up and went, 'I guess we're surfing.' To be honest I shouldn't have even paddled out. I should have said, 'It's so bad we shouldn't surf,' but Joel (Parkinson) was getting 6's and 7's and they are probably looking at the clock and thinking, 'we've got to get this thing done.'"
Monteiro, on the other hand, had been thinking of surfing against Slater for three days.
"I knew I had Kelly," he said later. "I was trying to relax as much as I could and I planned to go out and catch as many barrels as I could. The thing about our heat was that there weren't any barrels. That's why I went for those turns on the small inside one. I was also thinking he had more pressure on him because of the world title race and I had no pressure. They gave me five point something and I felt that was a turning point in the heat. I think Kelly was thinking barrels, barrels, barrels and there weren't any. (laughing) I did it -- I made the heat and I'm stoked."
In a heat that could wind up pitting surfers together for the next 20 years, Gabriel Medina won a battle of the rising stars, sending Kolohe Andino and John John Florence to surf round five.
By the end of the day, Florence and Parkinson were through to the quarters while Owen Wright had knocked out Mick Fanning in round five. Fanning is still in the hunt while Slater's job got tougher today. There are two events to go and the crowning of the next champ is going to come down to the last event at Pipeline. Slater's record at Pipe is unmatched, but over the past year and a half Florence has won unsanctioned contests, star events, and a Triple Crown with his efforts at Pipe. Parkinson is no slouch in Hawaii either, with three Triple Crown titles to his name. It is certainly going to be an interesting end to the year and a very interesting day tomorrow. Could Parko rack up his first contest win for the year or will young guns Florence or Medina spoil the party?RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL REMAINING ROUND 3 RESULTS: Heat 3: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.50 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 5.33
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.24 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.50
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.33 def. C.J. Hobgood (USA) 10.43
Heat 6: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.73 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 6.17
Heat 7: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.20 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 5.27
Heat 8: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.00 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.23
Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.27 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 9.83
Heat 10: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.43 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.33
Heat 11: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.27 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.60
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.77 def. Yadin Nicol (AUS) 9.84
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.50, Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.80, John John Florence (HAW) 5.77
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.30, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 7.53, Josh Kerr (AUS) 6.26
Heat 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.46, Owen Wright (AUS) 13.07, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.40
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.10, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.06, Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.93
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL ROUND 5 RESULTS: Heat 1: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.57 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 11.84
Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW) 17.03 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 5.80
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 18.00 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.54
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL REMAINING ROUND 5 MATCH-UP:
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
RIP CURL PRO PORTUGAL QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
QF 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
QF 3: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
QF 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. TBD