Here’s a statistic for you: you’d have to go back to 1999 for the last time the surfer subsequently crowned world champion — Occy, in this case — failed to progress past the third round of the year’s opening event. Yesterday Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira and Mick Fanning (who’s effectively ruled himself out of the title race already) joined Julian Wilson, Kelly Slater and Jordy Smith on the list of big-name early-exits at the Quik Pro Gold Coast, which has so far been as little predictable as it was last year.
This time Medina was knocked out not by Glen Hall but by fiery Australian Stu Kennedy, who’d already beaten a sluggish Slater in Round 2 and whose speed and timing atop his Tomo-shaped Slater Designs will undo some of the damage inflicted by Kelly to his own stock. Slightly lower-scoring but equally competitive was the battle of the nuggets faught between Italo and Connor Coffin. The battle resembled a violent game of Pass the Parcel; the lead changed hands multiple times, and it was Coffin, so far the best of the rookies, who was holding it when the music stopped, having wrestled it from last year’s best rookie in the final minute.