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Saturday, October 29, 2011
Updated: November 7, 6:18 PM ET
Big airs and broken bones in SF

By Jake Howard
ESPN Action Sports

Josh Kerr, a constant threat in all conditions.

Preview Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Final

It only took three hours of surfing today for Kelly Slater to clinch his eleventh world title (again), Pat Gudauskas to break his leg, and Josh Kerr to fly into the quarterfinals. All told, a lot of drama in a short period of time.

On a fuggly, semi-onshore, really bumpy day at the Rip Curl Pro Search in San Francisco Contest Director Damien Hardman finally called competition on at 10:15. They weren't exactly spectacular conditions, but considering there were only two heats of round three to run, and four heats of the no-loser round four, there was enough on offer to kill some time and set the stage for a stand-out final day. Kerr opened the day by dispatching Tiago Pires. Currently ranked eighth in the world, Kerr continues prove that he deserves to be considered one of the best surfers in the world.

"I'm just trying to keep up with the kids," joked Kerr regarding his freakish aerial abilities, which not only led him to victory over Pires, but thanks to a massive slob grab, helped him advance out of round four and directly into the quarters later in the day.

For Kerr going big has always taken priority over heat wins, and that was exemplified after his round four heat when he tweeted, "Damn I wish I pulled that 540 in my heat today!!! F&@k"

Pat Gudauskas won his heat against Jordy Smith, but unfortunately the end result was a broken leg.

With two wins on the day things could have been worse, he could have been Pat Gudauskas. Matched up against Jordy Smith in the final heat of round three, Gudauskas was rolling when he solidified his lead over the big South African by landing an impressive Gorkin flip. Unfortunately for the California native, upon landing in the flats Gudauskas came down awkwardly, consequently suffering a serious, potentially season ending ankle and leg injury. The official diagnosis has yet to be released, but initially he was thought to have possibly suffered a stress fracture. At the hospital getting x-rays, he was forced to bow out of his round four heat, in which he would have surfed against Kerr and Joel Parkinson. But because nobody is eliminated in round four, if Gudauskas can pull it together he will meet fellow Orange County kid Brett Simpson in round five.

Other winners on the day include Kieren Perrow, who somehow finds ways to keep making it happen even when the deck is stacked against him. The surfer's rep for the ASP, Perrow's wave selection and heat smarts rank among the best of the guys on tour, a fact that's kept him going even as the talent level has flown passed him.

"This will be my best result of the year," said Perrow afterwards. "It's really tough out there, so you need to make sure you pick the right waves. I'm in need of some points, and came into this event really needing to make something happen. I'm really stoked right now, hopefully I can keep it going."

According to the surf and weather forecasts, conditions look a lot more promising for tomorrow and Tuesday as the winds clock around and blow offshore and the swell fills in a little more. The Rip Curl Pro Search may crown a champion tomorrow afternoon, so stay tuned.

UPCOMING RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 5 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 10.67, Taylor Knox (USA) 9.94, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 9.43
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) 17.17, Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.33, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 14.83
Heat 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 14.60, Brett Simpson (USA) 12.83, Owen Wright (AUS) 9.36
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.63, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.57, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 0.00

RIP CURL PRO SEARCH SAN FRANCISCO ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) 16.44 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 9.83
Heat 12: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.46 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.90