Who would have thought that Brett Simpson would beat Kelly Slater by pure surfing (as opposed to an interference, injury or withdrawal from the champ) in rippable surf? Brett is a great guy and we’re not knocking him, it’s just that unlikely a situation.

Ok, rippable is quite a stretch, as the waves were during the heat average at best, and Commissioner Logie must have felt a lot of pressure to make the early call. Still, Simpo’s scores were a 6.67 and a 6.87, so there were definite scoring opportunities out there, but Slater couldn’t buy a wave out there. (Waves got good later)

Brett had the ultimate hunger, desperate to requalify and lying 34 on the Championship Tour ratings and 87 on the Qualifying Series. He has a long way to go and needs to pick up big results on the last two Championship Tour events, and have a solid run at the last Qualifying Series events of the year.

Brett explained that his approach was to get a good start, and then to control the heat, when in the past he might have left Kelly to paddle away and get a required score. “Obviously Kelly’s the best ever,” acknowledged Simpson of his competitor. “He’s an amazing specimen.”

Kelly was brilliant with his candor after the heat though, openly explaining why he blew it. He didn’t study the lineup beforehand, he left a few waves that fattened out on him, he gave a good wave away to Brett, and when Brett sat on him for the last 20 minutes he hadn’t been expecting that sort of tactic. “If I had trusted my gut I probably wouldn’t have come here,” he finished, with literal peals of laughter. Slater has a few little injuries that have been niggling him, and now he can spend some time recuperating before Pipe.

Fanning’s round three heat started off with some serious panic for the contender. Twenty-three year-old wildcard Frederico Morais opened up with a monster right-hander and gouged it to get a 9.13, and it was suddenly the real deal for world-title pressure. Fanning was looking a bit tremulous in the start of the heat as he went into the wrong side of a combination situation.

Fanning’s first good one was ridiculous, with 4 major moves but the 8.4 score was lower than anticipated, and got him glaring darkly in the general direction of Richie Porta and his minions.

At the end of the heat it was goodbye to Fanning, soon followed by goodbye to Adriano, as he lost to Vasco Ribeiro, with the two winners doing Portugal so proud.

Medina? What about Medina? And Filipe? Yes they are back in the world title race. Julian and Owen too. Medina. Massive heat. Totally back in the game for a world title after such a bad start to the year.

Shit just happened.

**an aside.

As a journalist, one of the lamest things one can do (I have been told, more than once) is to criticize the judges. I don’t like to do it. They work hard, and they have difficult jobs. Three things, however, must be mentioned.

1. Kelly Slater chatting candidly to Mick Fanning after his loss. It was clear that Kelly was talking about the judges and the scores, and he wasn’t being complimentary about the scores. Nu-uh. Not at all.

2. Strider interviewing Mick after the heat, mentioning that even he thought that ‘the scores were a little off, personally…’ which is quite strong a comment for someone who works for the WSL.

3. The always super-mellow Josh Kerr, clearly bummed and spitting blood after his heat loss against Michel Bourez. Don’t think I have ever seen him even gesticulate at the judges before.

All photos World Surf League Kirstin/Poullenot

Watch: Heat Analyser

Moche Rip Curl Pro Portugal Round 2 Results:

Heat 8: C.J Hobgood (USA) 12.43 def. Kai Otton (AUS) 6.17

Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.00 def. Adam Melling (AUS) 7.70

Heat 10: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 11.90 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 9.43

Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA) 14.43 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 9.47

Heat 12: Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.17 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.83

Round 3 Results:

Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.70 def. Mason Ho (HAW) 2.76

Heat 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.06 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.43

Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA) 13.54 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 8.06

Heat 4: Nat Young (USA) 16.67 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 13.17

Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.60

Heat 6: Frederico Morais (PRT) 16.03 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 14.40

Heat 7: Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 14.36 def. Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.80

Heat 8: Keanu Asing (HAW) 13.43 def. John John Florence (HAW) 13.16

Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 17.26 def. C.J Hobgood (USA) 12.47

Heat 10: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.17 def. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 12.84

Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) 13.17 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 13.10

Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 17.67 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 15.87

Round 4 Results:

Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 19.00, Kolohe Andino (USA) 18.00, Brett Simpson (USA)  17.57

Heat 2: Frederico Morais (PRT) 14.96, Nat Young (USA) 14.50, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 7.43

Remaining Round 4 Match-Ups:

Heat 3: Vasco Ribeiro (PRT), Keanu Asing (HAW), Jeremy Flores (FRA)

Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Michel Bourez (PYF), Gabriel Medina (BRA)