The final heat of the second round was a big one for Sebastian Zietz as Kauai’s lone surfer on the men’s world tour watched plenty of surprises in tough conditions throughout the day before having to face dangerous Brazilian rookie Italo Ferreira. But when he finally got into the water, the third-year pro showed why he’s been so solid in these situations during his career.
The waves were infrequent, unpredictable and frankly, not very good. But that’s not all that surprising for a random day at Rincon for the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, this season’s second Championship Tour contest. It’s a scary proposition for someone like Zietz, who usually thrives in bigger conditions. Saturday was a different animal and Ferreira was coming off a ninth-place finish at the Gold Coast. Despite the possibility of a disappointing day, Seabass dominated from start to finish and displayed one of his better performances in recent memory.
Things started off rather routinely and Zietz got the first decent score by taking apart a medium wave for everything it had to offer to earn a 6.67. But that was just the appetizer and bigger and better things were yet to come. Ferreira tried to keep pace and put up a pair of five-point rides, but Zietz threw some sharp turns with full force and got the judges’ attention. He quickly put together a pair of back-to-back rides in the excellent range to relegate Ferreira to combination territory and Zietz came away with the day’s second-highest heat total. He did so on a board decorated by the third graders at Hanalei Elementary School, where Zietz attended as a grom.
Moving into round three has been the steadiness that has kept Seabass on tour the past two seasons. Losing in round two puts any surfer concerned about re-qualification behind the eight ball, but at least reaching round three keeps most competitors consistently above the cut line.
Although not many eliminations in round two are usually considered big upsets, a number of lower-ranked surfers did manage to dismiss their opponents. On a day when maybe the biggest skill was staying patient with priority for those infrequent set waves to come through, things started without incident for the favorites. Mick Fanning opened the morning with a win, which preceded high-scoring victories for both Adriano de Souza and Taj Burrow.
But Oahu rookie Keanu Asing got the underdogs on the board, pulling off a big win over Tahiti’s Michel Bourez. Asing was unable to get out of round two at the year’s opening stop, but he earned the first CT win of his career in dominant fashion. Not many waves were coming through, but Asing’s first two attempts had Bourez in combination territory and he moved on with a 14.66 to 5.40 win.
Top-ranked Filipe Toledo then eliminated Maui’s Dusty Payne in a high-flying heat and Kolohe Andino took out Glenn Hall before four straight upsets. An in-form Adam Melling barely held off a late charge from Bede Durbidge, 16.17 to 16.00, and Brazil’s Jadson Andre eliminated his disappointed countryman, Miguel Pupo. Matt Wilkinson caught the only two waves of consequence to move past Ace Buchan and Matt Banting earned the four best scores of his heat against Wiggolly Dantas.
Freddy Patacchia made it five straight upsets by getting past Kai Otton. Patacchia got the better of an exchange in the final minute as both competitors put up their best heat scores on small reforming waves.
Round three will feature some of Hawaii’s best facing off with the world’s elite. Asing opens the round against Kelly Slater and Mason Ho will go against defending world champ Gabriel Medina, each hoping to pull off the shocker.
The women’s second round got going after the men finished Saturday, but results were unavailable as of press time. Tatiana Weston-Webb took on Laura Enever in an elimination heat, as did Malia Manuel against Oahu’s Alessa Quizon.
Live action can be seen on Oceanic Surf Channels 250 and 1250.