Photo: WSL / Cestari

Jordy Smith, a late addition to this year's world title conversation, is trying his hardest to keep that conversation as interesting as possible as it nears its conclusion. When a defeat would have eliminated him from the title race and all but confirmed John John Florence as this year's champion, Jordy came from behind in his quarter-final against Sebastian Zietz with a perfect 10 -- a heart-in-mouth airdrop to deep, heaving, filthy brown keg to narrow exit and typically ecstatic claim.

"A fucking 10! It's a fucking 10!" shouted his dad Graeme with equal enthusiasm, just as the live feed switched to the VIP area. The judges were unanimous in their agreement, the 10 points plugged in almost instantly and taking Jordy's heat total to 17.40. The South African had been in combination just a few minutes earlier.

It was the final heat of a stop-start day, on which organisers reverted to the primary contest site of Supertubos following a welcome few days at Pico do Fabril. The remainder of Round 5 was completed in unwieldy, unpredictable, and inconsistent surf; only Julian Wilson managed to assemble a healthy-looking scoreline. It wasn't until the afternoon and the commencement of the quarter-finals, following a lengthy delay in proceedings, that the so-called Portuguese Pipeline began even vaguely to resemble its more illustrious Hawaiian counterpart. Kolohe Andino and John John Florence excelled in the first two heats of the round, beating de Souza and Wilson respectively. Conner Coffin then beat Miguel Pupo, who offered little resistance in a lacklustre heat, before Smith's heroics sent home an impressive Seabass, who was unable to back-up his early 9.23 with a substantial second score.

John John's win takes him one large step closer the title that he's overwhelming favourite to win, but given Jordy's current vein of form, and given his easier semi-final draw against the rookie Coffin, there remains a good chance that the champion will be crowned in Hawaii. If Florence wins the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, or loses in the final to Conner Coffin, the world title will be his, but a victory for Smith would keep his hopes mathematically alive for at least another round.