South Africa's Smith, 25, long considered a threat to the ASP World Title, nailed a near-perfect 19.14 heat total out of a possible 20 for unmatched power and precision in the big Bells righthanders as six-to-eight foot waves greeted the competitors on the second stop of the ASP World Championship Tour.
“I have really good equipment under my feet right now,” Smith said. “The boards feel really solid and I think big Bells Bowl waves really suit my surfing. I love having big walls to carve up. Hopefully the conditions stay solid and clean for the rest of the event.”
At 6’2″, 190 lbs, Smith cuts one of the more imposing figures amongst the world’s elite and his dominant physicality is a huge asset at Bells Beach.
“I didn’t have the best start to the season with a 13th at Snapper but it’s a long year ahead,” Smith said. “I’m healthy, I feel like I’m surfing my best and I’m just focusing on put it together in heats. Bells is an opportunity for me to gain some early traction this season and that’s my goal.”
Taj Burrow, former event winner (2007), survived a hard-fought Round 3 heat against an in-form Dusty Payne. Payne, who is coming off a major ASP Prime victory in Western Australia, dispatched of the dangerous Owen Wright (AUS), 23, in his morning Round 2 heat and posted a 9.37 mid-heat against Burrow. Payne was unable to secure a solid backup, however, and Burrow’s early heat excellent ride coupled with a solid backup advanced the Western Australian into Round 4 of the event.
“Starting with a huge score is sometimes scary because you have to back it up,” Burrow said. “I wanted to get a backup quickly but couldn’t find one. Dusty (Payne) couldn’t find one either until late in the heat when he got a smoker. He’s in a really good rhythm and coming off a win out West so he was always going to be a danger if he got the waves.”
Despite relatively lacklustre showings at Bells Beach in recent years, Burrow has reset his focus for this season’s event and has high aims.
“I’ve had a few shockers here over the past few years but I’m taking it on as a challenge, changed a few things up and I’m here to ring the Bell 100%,” Burrow said. “This event is hugely prestigious and can really set a pace for the rest of the season. A win here is the goal.”
Nat Young (USA), 21, 2013 ASP Dream Tour rookie, continued his impressive run at Bells Beach this afternoon. Taking on current ASP WCT No. 5 and ASP World Title threat Julian Wilson (AUS), 24, in the final heat of the afternoon, Young’s dominant backhand was enough to stave off at late charge from the Australian, advancing him into Round 4.
“That was huge for me,” Young said. “I lost in this round at Snapper so my goal was to improve from there. The waves weren’t pretty, but I knew if I could find a few, I could maybe get a few scores on my backhand. Julian (Wilson) is so polished and so good – it was always going to be a difficult heat. Stoked to get through though and we’ll just see what tomorrow brings.”
When competition resumes, up first will be Josh Kerr (AUS), 29, up against Sebastian Zietz (HAW), 25, in Heat 7 of Round 3.
Event organizers will reconvene on Monday at 7:30am to assess conditions for a possible 7:45am start.
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.50 def. Jacob Willcox (AUS) 12.16
Heat 2: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.90 def. Jack Perry (AUS) 12.17
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.73 def. Oney Anwar (IDN) 7.43
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.10 def. Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 13.90
Heat 5: Tiago Pires (PRT) 17.57 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 17.27
Heat 6: Dusty Payne (HAW) 17.10 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 9.50
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 19.14 def. Glenn Hall (IRL) 11.77
Heat 8: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 18.10 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 11.33
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.60 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 14.23
Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 16.33 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 15.43
Heat 11: Damien Hobgood (USA) 15.07 def. Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.60
Heat 12: Kai Otton (AUS) 15.43 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.43
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.33 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.27
Heat 2: Kai Otton (AUS) 14.67 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.23
Heat 3: Nat Young (USA) 12.50 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 10.50
RIP CURL PRO BELLS BEACH REMAINING ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 7: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 8: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Damien Hobgood (USA)
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 10: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
RIP CURL WOMEN’S PRO BELLS BEACH FINAL MATCH-UP:
Tyler Wright (AUS) VS. Carissa Moore (HAW)