The level of talent on the ASP World Tour has gotten so good that it's basically come down to who ever gets the best waves wins the heat. I know, it sounds cliche, and to a point it's always been like that, but for a moment there it seemed like performance was trumping wave selection.
Based on the last couple of rounds of the Quiksilver Pro, as far as I can it, it seems the whole judging criteria and formula for winning heats has gone back to the Damien Hardman-era of solid surfing on the best waves. Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of stylish power surfing, but I'm also a huge fan of progressive surfing. At the end of the day the best guys should be able to do both.
That's where somebody like Dusty Payne comes in. Looking fast and smooth after a year-long hiatus with a serious ankle injury, he narrowly took the win over Owen Wright by .01 of a point.
"I'm healthy now though and I've put in a lot of work to get some confidence back in my surfing. It's not easy having a low seed on tour because you draw the toughest guys," noted Payne.
Coming of age as a rookie's one of the toughest things for that very reason. A low seed means tough early-round seeds. But this year's class appears to be answering the call. Felipe Toledo, Nat Young and Sebastian Zietz all surfed really well to win their second round heats. Young came out blazing against Ace Buchan, Toledo beat Kieren Perrow with fast and progressive surfing, but the Zietz versus Kolohe Andino matchup was the battle royale. Andino came out firing with multiple inverted throw-tails to jump out to a quick lead, but Zietz came back with two high scoring rides -- in which he linked rail carves, airs and throw-tails. Zietz came out on top.
Pushing through as many heats as possible, the big news as round three got underway was that John John Florence was withdrawing from the contest. The ASP announced that due to "an injury sustained while [Florence] attempted a full-rotation aerial in Saturday's expression session resulted in his withdrawal from the event today, just hours before his Round 3 match-up with Adam Melling."