There were four people that we all wanted to see today. John John, Kelly, Jordy and Jack Robbo. We got to see three of them, but there was enough drama and action for days. In waves that Kelly called six to eight-foot, but to the laymen looked like solid ten-foot sets, the best surfers in the world gave us entertainment and then some.

John John and Jack Freestone started off the excitement, trading a few excellent barrels over the ledge, with John John getting the nod over Freestone. Scores were sitting in the three, fives and sixes, but it felt like the judges were holding back, waiting for the waves to get slabby and real, which they did.

How wide do you want it John? WSL/Dunbar

By the time Kelly paddled out against Willian Cardosa the waves had improved. The wind had dropped and there were some chunks coming through, spitting all over the place. The Panda proceeded to go straight over the falls on his first two waves, and looked a bit baffled out there. On top of that, Slater was voracious, turning around and going under priority, possibly making Cardosa doubt himself and doubt his wave selection. Kelly slid into the lead. Having said that, even after some excellent rides from Kelly and some great tubes, Cardosa only needed a 5.4. He picked up a decent wave, and although he didn't get the score, it seemed that there should have been a bigger difference, as Kelly was so dominant. Before we go into the murky world of conspiracy theories, Kelly won, and everyone was stoked.

“It was the smaller ones that were the good ones,” said Kelly. “The bigger sets had a bit of a clamp on them, and it seemed the smaller ones kind of held open a bit. I was looking for the six-foot waves as opposed to the eight-footers.”   

Kelly snuck through against The Panda. Photo: Dunbar

One of the most amazing heats of the morning, for all different reasons, was the Conner Coffin clash versus Jesse Mendes. The goofy-footer started off with a total airdrop, landing straight into a barrel for a 6.83, and straight into the lead. Conner decided that this heat was his though, and took off on one of the bigger waves thus far. He pulled in and dropped over a massive ledge in the tube, totally enveloped in a foam ball, only to wobble off a ledge on his tiptoes and fall for a non-complete. Then as Conner charged into another set wave he was joined by a school of dolphins, riding in the tube with him in what could only be described as a glorious moment.

“That was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen,” said Slater, who watched the wave from the water. ”There were like six dolphins riding with Conner, and I even thought that one dolphin was going to get pitched.”      

Jordy was gifted a win, with Leo Fioravanti injured with a dislocated shoulder and out of the event, so we never got to see the big guy surf. Instead we saw Jack Robinson giving us a virtuoso performance at The Box.

It was always going to be a tough heat for Filipe, and everyone knew that Jack was going to go hard, but no one expected the performance of the year. Jack wasn't head and shoulder above the rest; he was a skyscraper building above everyone else so far, including John John and Kelly.

He picked the biggest, most gnarly looking waves, and pulled into some of the biggest, throaty barrels and rode them with absolute precision and composure as chaos blew up all around him. An 8.5 was his start to the heat, but he soon eclipsed this with a 9.27 and the heat was done. Toledo came back with a 3.33 for a smaller tube, but then Robbo picked up a bigger, deeper tube than he had found thus far, and burst out into the channel in a ball of spit for a 9.30, giving him a heat total of 18.57. The best heat total of the contest thus far, one of the best heat totals of the year, and the first time that Jack had ever won a man-on-man heat. Filipe picked up a second three-pointer, but was well and truly trounced. At one stage it seemed that Jack was toying with him, dragging him around the reef a bit and possibly leading him off the chip-shot take-of spot. It made no difference because he didn't have enough in the experience tank to make a dent in the local’s tally.

F*&k yeah Jack Robbo! WSL/Cestari

“It’s hard,” said a disappointed Toledo. “It felt like a knockout, but I’m always ready to learn, and take it to the next one.”      

A stoked Robbo played it down though, and is becoming more and more confident and comfortable in his own skin as time progresses. “Yeah, it’s as good as it gets out there,” said Jack on the beach afterwards. “It’s really just another day for me. This is just a bonus. I just decided to not doubt myself, and do what I do.”

A good performance at a wave like The Box is very much dependent on local knowledge, but Jack has a lot more than local knowledge in his kitty. He won the Volcom Pipe Pro at the beginning of the year, and he won the Pipe Invitational a few years ago. He knows his way around waves of consequence, he just couldn't be arsed to jump around in two-foot beach break conditions that the QS is prone to offer.

Talking of local knowledge, Griffin Colapinto got flicked over the falls on his first wave against Kolohe, got washed through and buckled his board before he even had a chance to stand up. Kolohe came through with a 9.03 for one particularly deep tube, and it was over for Colapinto.

It was almost prophetic when Kieren announced that it was getting a bit dangerous at The Box, and the contest was going to move back to Main Break. Not long after Jadson Andre suffered a massive wipeout on one of the bigger waves of the day. A critical late drop into oblivion which saw the goofy-footer surface in obvious pain and distress. He was taken safely to shore for assessment and treatment. We will find out more about his injury later.

The final few heats of the day went back to Main Beach for a few big open faces and no real surprises.

All in all, it was one of those great days of surfing, and there’s more to come.