It doesn’t get much closer than Sebastian Zietz and Kolohe Andino’s second-round matchup, Saturday at Bells Beach. While we’ve seen a few buzzer beaters throughout March on the hardwood, this one came in the water and it was Seabass surviving and advancing at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.
Andino, who came into the event second in the rankings, battled back and forth with Zietz, who was in once again as an injury replacement. The two traded jabs and switched the scoreline a few times. One final set wave approached the lineup as Seabass needed a 6.17 to re-grab the edge and he got to his feet with just one second to spare.
It was a funky wave but Zietz battled it down the line with some early turns and then one close-out carve that got him just enough for a 6.27 and a spot in round three. It’s a disappointing result for Andino after a runner-up on the Gold Coast, but Zietz is making the most of his opportunities in his first season off the Championship Tour since 2012.
He’ll take on Brazilian sophomore Italo Ferreira in round three.
Mason Ho and Dusty Payne also pulled off narrow wins over Jeremy Flores and Josh Kerr, respectively, to join Zietz and John John Florence in the third round. Keanu Asing was set to close out round two against Michel Bourez. That result was unavailable as of press time, but the Hawaii contingent is proving to be a tough out so far.
The same can be said on the women’s side, where Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb will each be active in round four when the call is made.
After winning her opening heat for the second straight contest, Manuel wasn’t able to keep pace with world champ Carissa Moore in round three. That loss sends her to an elimination matchup with six-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore. It’s a tough draw for Manuel, but not an impossible one. Under optimal conditions, this is a wave that can certainly showcase Gilmore’s smooth, progressive style with some long sections. Manuel has a similar repertoire, but she’ll need to show her best to get the nod on Gilmore’s home turf.
Tati has a much less experienced opponent than Manuel, but one who shouldn’t be taken lightly. Weston-Webb matches up with injury replacement Bronte Macaulay for a spot in the quarterfinals. Macaulay hasn’t posted huge scores yet at this venue, but she did shock Sally Fitzgibbons in round two on the Gold Coast, so the potential is there.
Each of the Kauai wahine is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the second straight time to start the season. Oahu’s Alessa Quizon will be looking for her first quarterfinal appearance of the year after reaching at least that point in two of 2015’s final three events. It’s been encouraging to see Quizon compete since getting healthy and looking like a true contender after a tough two-year stretch on the CT. She has a matchup with Bianca Buitendag ahead in round four.
The waves have been better for the men’s draw so far, but hopefully everyone gets their share of open faces down the stretch.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.