As expected, when the wave quality increases, the cream rises to the top. All four world champions in the field were in the quarter-finals. Of the remaining quarter-finalists, Wilko was wearing the yellow jersey, John John is John John, and Ace and Wiggoly are two of the best barrel riders on tour.
After a long string of lay-days following round two we saw the conditions absolutely turn on for the final two days of the waiting period. The usual suspects were the stand outs. Medina and Slater put up tens. Kelly almost had a perfect heat. John John came close to a ten with an insane hands free barrel through the inside section.
Matt Wilkinson kind of floated through the draw and all of the sudden he was in the finals. The benefit to Wilko's hot start is that he has a high seed, and in turn, comes up against struggling surfers. He didn't need to put up huge scores to advance. Still, credit where credit is due, Wilko put himself on the best waves and, low key, is a fantastic barrel rider.
The ratings leader came up against John John in the quarters. Wilko took off on a wave that was a ten. He did not get quiet deep enough but still managed a high seven. Late in the heat with John John needing a low eight he dropped into a wave that would have been a twelve. He was a board's length too deep and that was all she wrote.
Gabriel Medina was a freak in pretty much every heat. He never looked like losing, even against Kelly in the semi-finals. He went on to beat Wilko in the finals doing stuff like this:
All in all, what a result for Matt Wilkinson. Through five events he has won two and made the finals here. Problem is, he has John John Florence and Gabriel Medina pretty much dead even in second and third place. Fun!
As fans we couldn't ask for more. The two most exciting young surfers chasing the most fun and enigmatic surfer in the world! Next is J-Bay which, in theory, suits all three of these guys.