The first glimpse of Bells Beach is across farmland, where cows and packs of kangaroos remind you you're in the country and this is a protected surfing reserve. For the past three days, this view has included lines of waves stacked up against off-shore winds, leading the best surfers in the world to press the accelerator.
Owen Wright, Adriano de Souza, and Joel Parkinson all carried that speed into the first three heats and claimed victory.
"Bells has such good energy about it," said Parkinson afterward. "It can have a really calming affect and you get that real good feeling that you're in a place that you're meant to be and ready to paddle out."
The waves in Parkinson's heat, against Jeremy Flores, were close to perfect, but it was clear that Flores is still struggling with the knee injury that took him out of the Quik Pro last month. When the waves began to pulse halfway through the heat, it was Parkinson who capitalized.
"You can go out at Bells and win with five and three-point waves. Who knows, I thought I was going to win with a five and six and then got two waves like I did in the last part of the heat and end up with an eight and a nine," said Parkinson.
Parkinson could have been describing what was going to happen three heats later when Kelly Slater defeated the last remaining wildcard Stu Kennedy with a two-wave total of 11.34 points. Slater was counting a three point and a seven point waves.
Parkinson had actually racked up the highest heat score of the whole event with a combined two-wave total of 18.13 points out of 20.
While that says plenty about Parko's surfing, it also says something about the conditions. They went from near-perfect to deteriorating as the wind swung to on-shore southwest, making wave selection a challenge.
"You had to be patient," said CJ Hobgood, clearly satisfied after defeating Matt Wilkinson, "But it's been a long time coming."
Unfortunately, his brother Damien struggled against Portugal's Tiago Pires. There is a saying around these parts that if you don't like the weather just wait a few minutes. Today was no different but it didn't get back to this morning's chilly, clean off-shore six-foot conditions.
The good news is that the swell is sticking around and according to the official forecaster we could be in for 'surprise' on Easter Sunday.
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.33 def. Gabe Kling (USA) 5.90
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.76 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 10.67
Heat 3: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 18.13 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 8.16
Heat 4: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.16 def. Heitor Alves (BRA) 12.27
Heat 5: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.26 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 7.50
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 11.34 def. Stu Kennedy (AUS) 9.30
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.27 def. Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.66
Heat 8: Chris Davidson (AUS) 14.54 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 8.33
Heat 9: Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.17 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 9.70
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.67 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.16
Heat 11: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.27 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 8.73
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.50 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.77
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS)
Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS), C.J. Hobgood (USA), Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Chris Davidson (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF), Jadson Andre (BRA), Mick Fanning (AUS)
RIP CURL WOMEN'S PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Silvana Lima (BRA) 16.00, Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 12.33, Melanie Bartels (HAW) 5.77
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.84, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.33, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 6.54
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 13.57, Tyler Wright (AUS) 10.76, Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.56
Heat 4: Coco Ho (HAW) 10.83, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.47, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 8.77