There were a lot of happy faces around the The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast early this morning. The rain had disappeared, the four-foot of southeast swell had cleaned up overnight and the Snapper Rocks sand bank was virtually improving before everyone's eyes.
Less than two weeks ago there wasn't a bank at Snapper Rocks but thanks to two faceless men, Kevin and Helmut, who work the night shift of the multimillion-dollar sand pumping program (which dredges the channel of the Tweed River and pumps the sand via pipeline into the ocean) the quality sand bank at Snapper was one of the major talking points of the day.
It was suggested the boys should be treated to a few beers but Quiksilver representative, and former contest director Rod Brooks joked, "We'll be taking Kevin and Helmut out to dinner once this is all over. We can only let Mother Nature do her thing with the sand drift but they have been pumping sand every night and it's certainly working."
Round two, the first elimination round of a contest, can be exciting for the first few heats if any of the top seeds have struggled in round one. But today's action started at heat one with Joel Parkinson doing battle with Garrett Parkes and continued with marquee matchups to the last heat of the day when Brett Simpson and Kolohe Andino busted their tails and boosted airs.
Jordy Smith woke up in a better place today after looking very lackluster in round one. Up against Taylor Knox, Smith used the developing sand bank to perfection, making sections and sliding the tail in his trademark gouging cutbacks.
"Yesterday I wasn't myself," he admitted after the heat, "I'd built the contest thing up way too big in my head, it just wasn't sitting very well in my mind. I was really anxious and nervous and that's not like me. Normally I'd be out there with a lot of confidence so today I just wanted to forget it all and go surf. I'd never ridden this board before my heat yesterday so today I wanted to catch a lot of waves and test it out."
Josh Kerr, feeling right at home again after living in California the past few years, certainly made up for his round one loss. He re-acquainted himself with Snapper, scoring a number of barrels from behind the rocks and then taking to the air once he felt safe about the win.
"I was just trying to be a crowd pleaser," joked Kerr about his last wave where he'd gone for a massive frontside air reverse, "There were five minutes to go. Patty (Pat Gudauskas) needed a combination (of scores) and I wasn't going to get the ski to take me back out so I decided to just pick off whatever I could get on the inside. I knew there were some good ramps down the bottom end of the bank so I was just looking for some of them."
His intimate knowledge of Snapper came into play during the heat.
"On both my good ones I almost went the wave before," he said, "I had to keep telling myself 'No, no, no, always the second one.' I know Snapper well enough, especially in these wind swells to know that the first wave loses all its energy and it's the second and third one that picks it all up."
Kerr worked on the Snapper energy to put together a blinding heat. California's Brett Simpson and tour rookie Kolohe Andino used their own kind of energy to have the Australian crowd clapping and hooting as both took to the air during heat 12 of the day. Their heat was one of those times when you didn't want either guy to lose because they were both surfing so well.
Andino has a lot of pressure on him, along with the other rookies, to do well. His good friend John John Florence had the heat of the contest so far and fellow tour rookie Yadin Nichol won his heat against Gabriel Medina earlier today.
"I'm just stoked to get a heat win in my first contest," he said after the media scrum had subsided, "I wasn't really happy with my heat yesterday (against Kelly Slater) and I didn't want to finish last in my first event. I was still feeling nervous today but I'm feeling better right now. The bank has changed since yesterday, it had sections where I could line something up even though it was shallow on the inside and tuck inside a barrel, it gave me a chance to feel my board out and get a bit of confidence."
With the re-seeding for round three, which could run as early as tomorrow, Andino will face off against one of the toughest competitors on the world tour, Brazil's Adriano de Souza. He's going to need all the confidence he can muster.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 RESULTS:
HEAT 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.36 def. Garrett Parkes (AUS) 6.43
HEAT 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 18.10 def. Dane Reynolds (USA) 16.06
HEAT 3: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 13.13 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 12.53
HEAT 4: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.06 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 13.73
HEAT 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.43 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 12.33
HEAT 6: Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.30 def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.03
HEAT 7: Josh Kerr (AUS) 17.60 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 10.53
HEAT 8: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.86 def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 10.33
HEAT 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.67 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.07
HEAT 10: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.00 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 13.84
HEAT 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.53 def. Tiago Pires (PRT) 10.73
HEAT 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.33 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 13.87
UPCOMING QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
HEAT 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
HEAT 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
HEAT 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
HEAT 5: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
HEAT 6: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
HEAT 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
HEAT 8: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
HEAT 9: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Raoni Monterio (BRA)
HEAT 10: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
HEAT 11: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
HEAT 12: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Travis Logie (AUS)