Jordy Smith proved to be the lion that Sean Holmes couldn't slay. As a wildcard, Holmes has always played a major roll in professional events in South Africa. He's upset Cory Lopez, Taj Burrow, Andy Irons, and Kelly Slater in the Billabong Pro at J-Bay. But today, at the Mr. Price Pro Ballito, he could not shoot down the giant cat that is Jordy Smith.
That's not to say he didn't try. It was another day of big, powerful rights for the man-on-man match ups of round three. Holmes came out of the bush shooting, posting a considerable 6.5 and 7.5.
"Sean is really good on right point breaks, especially when it gets bigger. Anything over three feet and he's lethal so it was a relief to get through that one," admitted Smith, the No. five surfer on the World Tour, who had to come from behind and gouge out a 6.5 and a 7.5. He wound up with the highest heat score of the day.
The barrels were again wide open, often forcing judges to pick between tube time and power slashes. New Zealand's Richard Christie threaded one such double barrel gaper for a 9.20. But Christie never found a backup wave. Brazilian Jano Belo (yes, there is yet another Brazzo making the business end of a Prime event) slashed an 8 in the last minute to add to his earlier 7.17 and advance.
"It was a tight heat, when I saw Richard's big barrel I thought that was 10 points," Belo said, "I was lucky the judges seemed to like my turns and my last turn was huge so I knew it was going to be a high score."
Several Brazilians fell today, but that was bound to happen, as they wound up facing each other. Junior Faria downed Wiggoly Dantas (though he admitted he was sad to have to beat his friend) and Jesse Mendes beat round two standout, Pablo Paulino. Australia's Heath Joske upset a red hot Gabriel Medina, while John John Florence whipped up on Messias Felix.
The other American hope, Patrick Gudauskas had another dramatic barrel today to advance. South African Brandon Jackson started out the heat with an 8. There were five seconds remaining before the hooter when Gudauskas threw himself into a quick tube and emerged with enough to advance. Meanwhile, Kieren Perrow free fall floated his way past fellow countryman Nic Muscroft.
Things are moving as smoothly as they possibly can in Ballito, with plenty of swell thus far. Everything is pointing toward favorable conditions for the start of the non-elimination round four tomorrow with four heats of three surfers and very possibly running right through the next round.
2011 Mr. Price Pro Round of 24 Results:
Heat 1: Patrick Gudauskas(USA) 11.76 def Brandon Jackson(ZAF) 11.33
Heat 2: Junior Faria(BRA) 10.00 def Wiggolly Dantas(BRA) 7.10
Heat 3: Jesse Mendes(BRA) 12.66 def Pablo Paulino (BRA) 9.34pts
Heat 4: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 10.50 def Nic Muscroft (AUS) 9.17pts
Heat 5: Shaun Joubert(ZAF) 13.27 def Kiron Jabour(HAW) 7.50pts
Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.33 def Sean Holmes (ZAF) 14.00
Heat 7: Blake Thornton (AUS) 12.43 def Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 10.34
Heat 8: Julian Wilson(AUS) 12.10 def Brendon Gibbens(ZAF) 5.00
Heat 9: Heath Joske (AUS) 15.50 def Gabriel Medina (BRA) 8.33
Heat 10: Jano Belo (BRA) 15.17 def Richard Christie (NZL) 14.94
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW) 12.84 def Messias Felix (BRA) 6.43
Heat 12: Kai Otton(AUS) 14.17 def Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 12.46