Then there were none
NOT one of the highly-fancied eight contenders from the Northern Rivers and Gold Coast will paddle out in the quarter-finals of the Quiksilver Pro today, following last-man standing Joel Parkinson's dismissal in the final heat of round five yesterday afternoon.
Just as the loss to world No.2 Jordy Smith brought a close to a hugely entertaining day's surfing, it also ended any hopes of a local lifting the prestigious crown.
Earlier in the day, Lennox Head local Tyler Wright was edged out in a runner-up finish in the Roxy Pro behind Hawaiian Carrissa Moore, leaving Coolangatta's Parkinson as the region's sole title hope.
However, when Smith, 23, took a wave off of Parkinson's priority and scored a 7.50 out of a possible 10 he secured a sensational come-from-behind victory and eliminated his childhood hero in the process.
“I'm really stoked right now,” Smith said.
“Finally something good came. I had a bummer of a morning and I was kind of down after losing my first heat.
“He (Parkinson) always beats me and I've looked up to him forever. I don't know what to say, I'm rattled right now.”
Parkinson had been the last remaining local after Tweed's Mick Fanning (world No.4) and Josh Kerr (No.30), Lennox's Owen Wright (No.7) and Adam Melling (No.26), Gold Coast's Bede Durbidge (No.5) and Mitch Crews (No.414) and Byron Bay's Kieren Perrow (No.15) were all sent packing in the earlier rounds.
In the men's event, 10-time world champion Kelly Slater suffered a shock loss in round four but survived the sudden-death round five to reach the quarter-finals.
Slater lost in round four to Matt Wilkinson, from the New South Wales central coast, who is in just his second year on the world tour.
Wilkinson, 22, pulled off the biggest upset of his career when he beat Slater to progress straight to the quarter-finals.
“This is my biggest-ever result,” an elated Wilkinson said. “I'm really stoked to be into the quarters.
“It's a great way to start the year.”
Along with Slater, defending event champion Taj Burrow also survived the sudden-death round to reach the quarter-finals.
Defeat in the women's final didn't undermine teenage sensation Wright's self-belief, with the 16-year-old still confident she can win the world title in her rookie year.
Wright demonstrated her great potential with a narrow loss to Moore in the final yesterday.
Afterwards, she wasted no time confirming her desire to replicate four-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore's achievement of taking the world title in her first year on the circuit.
“I think it'd be silly of anyone to come on the world tour and not have a world title in their sights,” Wright said.