Favorites fall swiftly as Seabass charges through round three

Two heats, two wins and his best result of 2015. The final leg of this year’s Australian trio of contests has been good to Sebastian Zietz. With a victory over former world champ Joel Parkinson, Zietz moved into the fourth round for the first time this season.

The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro wraps up the year’s Aussie leg and there have already been plenty of shockers through the early stages of competition. Zietz’s win over Parkinson represented the second world champion to go down. In round two, defending champ Gabriel Medina was knocked out by event wild card Jay Davies. The pair was essentially tied with under 10 minutes remaining when Davies picked off a deep barrel ride, showing off his local knowledge on his way to an 8.50 score, which propelled him to a 15.17 to 7.67 win over 2014’s Brazilian champ.

That was only the first world title holder to fall to Davies, who then knocked off three-time champion Mick Fanning in round three. Davies slid through with a 9.50 score on his last wave to secure a spot in the final 12.

Fanning came into the contest with the 2015 points lead after his win at Bells Beach. His loss in round three, along with Filipe Toledo’s second-round elimination, means that there will certainly be some movement at the top of the rankings after this contest. Jordy Smith was ranked fifth but had to pull out of the event in round two after severely cutting his foot during a free surf. The door is wide open for Adriano de Souza, who came to Margaret River in third place and is safely into the fourth round.

Zietz came to Margaret River tied for 21st in the CT rankings, even with John John Florence and Freddy Patacchia among others. That standing should improve after he took down Parko going away. He got his first solid score by hopping into a barrel in The Box, which turned into a very tight ride as he raced through for a clean exit. That produced a 7.07 on the scoreboard, but it took a while for Seabass to locate a decent backup. He still held a lead at the nine-minute mark when he paddled into a much bigger wave with some more teeth to it. He maneuvered beautifully into a quick cover up and got spit out, making it look easy. That bettered his situation with a 7.23 as he put Parko into a combo and went on to win the heat 14.30 to 7.50.

Seabass had won his opening-round heat against de Souza and C.J. Hobgood on the strength of a picturesque 9.23 barrel. He got a perfect early section and then the tube reformed for an even longer ride, letting him out smoothly. His 15.23 total outpointed de Souza in second and moved Seabass into the third round, avoiding potential second-round elimination.

Oahu’s Keanu Asing and Maui’s Dusty Payne were each knocked out in round two. It’s been a bit of a slow start to the season for each, now with identical results of two second-round losses and one third-round exit.

The fourth round is a non-elimination session with the four heat winners moving directly into the quarterfinals. Zietz will be taking on Cinderella story Davies, as well as American Nat Young. Florence is into the fourth round and will face Jeremy Flores and Michel Bourez.

The women’s contest was scheduled to get its first round underway after the men’s third round wrapped up. Kauai’s duo of Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb will look to leave Australia with a boost at Margie’s. Manuel, currently tied for 10th, will face Courtney Conlogue and Dimity Stoyle. Weston-Webb is tied for sixth and takes on Sally Fitzgibbons and Alessa Quizon.

Results of the women’s first round were unavailable as of press time.

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

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