Waves level the playing field

BEDE Durbidge fell with a potential barrel section lined up and made a shock round-two exit from the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks yesterday.

The Gold Coaster, last year’s world No.5, was upstaged by 16-year-old wildcard Matt Banting in tough one-metre conditions at the famed break.

Strong currents and unfavourable swell direction made the conditions inconsistent, and if surfers got a wave with a clean face they went a long way to getting a high score.

Port Macquarie’s Banting got the best waves of the heat and duly wiped out Durbidge from the first Association of Surfing Professionals event of the year.

“I knew when he (Durbidge) fell on that last barrel that I had it,” Banting said.

“I started getting the shakes.

“It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of to surf in World Tour events and now I have Kelly (Slater) in round 3.

“It’s the most excited I’ve ever been. I’m over the moon. It’ll be good to just be out in the water again with Kelly in the next round.”

It wasn’t a good day for surfers from the Gold Coast and Northern NSW.

Currumbin’s Mitch Crews, 20, surfed well in his round two heat against Avoca’s Adrian Buchan, 28, but the older man’s experience got him over the line.

“The conditions are tough out there; it’s not the Snapper we’re used to,” Buchan said.

“Luckily I had the advantage of being able to watch the first heat of the round before mine.

“I think Bede (Durbidge) was out of position and that’s uncharacteristic for him.

“It’s tricky out there and these conditions even the playing field between us and the rookies.

“I knew Crewsy is capable of getting big scores and that last wave was the best wave that came through in that heat. I got that six for one turn.

“I didn’t want to take that heat lightly at all. I felt sharp and the boards felt good in round one, but I just didn’t finish my waves and you can’t have that.

“I just tightened the screws a little bit in that last round and felt a lot better.”

Buchan will battle Gold Coast fly boy Josh Kerr in round three of competition.

Meanwhile, Byron Bay journeyman Kieren Perrow was eliminated by Brazilian rookie Alejo Muniz.

“It was pretty hard,’ Muniz said.

“I don’t think I’ve ever paddled that much in a heat before.

“I was thinking about where I had to be in the line-up and looking for waves with a long wall.

“My strategy was to stay busy and catch a lot of waves and have fun. In my first heat I was so nervous I couldn’t even catch a wave.

“I wanted to have fun in this heat because it’s my dream to be on the tour and I want to enjoy it.”

American Brett Simpson took the day’s top honours, collecting a 16.73 out of a possible 20 popints, to eliminate compatriot Patrick Gudauskas in their round two battle.

“I’m definitely happy with my performance,” Simpson said.

“From how the day started I was like ‘oh, they’re going to run it’.

“It’s tough out there, but seems like it’s getting better heat-by-heat. I started with that fall on my first wave but was able to get those smaller ones.

“My game plan was to just go out there and push it. Pat and I have grown up surfing against each other our whole lives so it’s always tough when you draw each other at this level, but that’s how it goes.”

Simpson takes on Hawaiian Fredrick Patacchia , in round three.

Event organisers will meet today at 7.30am to assess conditions for a possible 8.30am start.

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