It’s been so long since Round 1 of the Quik Pro that it feels like a different event. Today was like no other day we’ve been forced to sit through at the world-famous snapper rock—the swell was way too south and 90 percent of the waves pushed out to sea with no scoring potential whatsoever. The sweep was so strong from the southerly angle that competitors had to paddle as hard as they could just to hold position at the top of the point at Snapper.
Bede Durbidge was the first of many to suffer a loss without ever getting a chance to ride a decent wave, as 16-year-old wildcard, Matt Banting, was able to pick up the only clean walls and put up a couple average scores in to affect a shocking upset. Matt now faces Kelly Slater in Round 3 for his second chance to beat the 10-Time World Champ, who is more than twice his age, while Matt is around the same age as Kelly’s daughter, Taylor.
Later in the day, with the waves improving enough for the guys to ride a few clean walls each and create a little drama for the day, the Brazilians went on a tear. The key to their success (besides being talented surfers) was sucking it up and surfing with energy and urgency as if the waves were firing. Of exceptional note was rookie Alejo Muniz, who has been surfing at a level capable of winning any heat he finds himself in during the remainder of the comp.
Two bright spots amongst an overall demolition of America surfers (that saw both the Hobgoods, Pat Gudauskas, Taylor Knox, Gabe Kling, and Bobby Martinez lose) were the performances of Dusty Payne and Brett Simpson. Both surfers looked very relaxed as they posted high scores with little effort. For 2011, they appear ready to take their competitive surfing to the elite level and challenge the established hierarchy of the WT for a coveted position in the top 10.