Late score pushes Zietz into third round

Sebastian Zietz continues to do his part to remain on the favorable side of the qualification bubble. In his second-round elimination heat at the J-Bay Open, Seabass pulled out a late win to move ahead of Reunion Island’s Jeremy Flores and into the third round of 2014’s sixth World Championship Tour event.

With six and a half minutes left in the 35-minute heat, Zietz trailed by a 13.53 to 11.87 count, needing a 6.54 to pull back into the lead. As he eyed the bumps with priority, a set approached the lineup. He paddled into a clean wave and nailed three opening turns, hitting the top on all three attempts. His fourth carve ended with a float off the lip that put him in good position ahead of the wave to finish with one more carve off the lip. The wave closed out after that section and Seabass ducked through the back.

It was right in the range that he needed, but far from a sure thing. The judges took their time in evaluating every aspect of the ride. As he has in both Jeffreys Bay heats, Zietz looked super steady on his board during a powerful display, but never had the chance for that one spectacular maneuver to get the score up into the excellent range. The clock continued to tick down without an official score until, with just two minutes left in the heat, the 6.67 flashed to push the Kilauea rider ahead of Flores, who clapped his hands over his head in a seemingly sarcastic bit of applause to the judges.

Regardless of his disagreement, Flores had a chance to take matters into his own hands. He needed a 6.07 in the final 90 seconds and a set was rolling in. He hopped on the first wave and hit one turn before racing down the line to try to duck into a developing barrel. It covered him up but was too tight a squeeze and Flores went down, which gave Zietz the 13.67 to 13.53 heat victory.

Both men charged hard, with Flores taking the best wave on an early 7.60 and Seabass finding and emerging from a tight barrel after three huge turns for a 7.00 midway through the heat. It’s now the fifth straight contest that Zietz has made it through the second round. He’ll go head-to-head with Brazil’s Adriano de Souza in the third round, another elimination heat. Having already secured an Equal 13th place, Seabass would guarantee at least an Equal Ninth with one more heat win. Though he has made the third round in the past four events, he’s only advanced past the third round once – a quarterfinal appearance at the Billabong Rio Pro.

Hawaii’s other two participants have also advanced into round three. Freddy Patacchia put up the highest heat total of the second round in a 17.93 to 10.67 win over Travis Logie. Patacchia earned a 9.93 on a monster wave that he claimed after firing out of the barrel. Patacchia is in the same qualification situation as Zietz, having come into the event in 19th place for the season. He’ll now take on Nat Young in the third round.

John John Florence didn’t have to worry about a second-round heat after winning his opening round matchup with Flores and Bede Durbidge. Florence now has an interesting battle with Australia’s Owen Wright in the third round.

Other heats of note will pit Taj Burrow against Ace Buchan, Kelly Slater against Matt Wilkinson and Jordy Smith against C.J. Hobgood. Live action can be seen on Oceanic channel 250 and 1250. New Zealand is 12 hours ahead of Hawaiian time, so the Dawn Patrol Morning Show airs here each evening at 7:30 p.m.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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