All the eyes were really on two heats today – Filipe Toledo’s face off with Bruce Irons and Adriano’s battle with tube specialist, 17-year-old Jack Robinson.

Unfortunately Bruce Irons’ heavily hyped Pipe Masters campaign came to an end in sub-par Pipe, in front of a small crowd, beneath drizzling skies. Not even the big rainbow, which arched over the lineup later in the heat could save Bruce from Toledo’s tactical assault. It’s not what the fans wanted to see from Bruce but the good news is that he seems to be fit, and focused on reasserting his status as one of the world’s best. Interestingly, when quizzed about Toledo’s controversial no-show yesterday when they were scheduled to surf their heat, Bruce whole-heartedly supported the title contender’s tactics.

“I know they told me they were going to have a fifteen minute break so I told them I’m paddling out, if they have it I’m ready, if not whatever … You know, Filipe, if I was in his position, you’re going for the world title, the waves – they weren’t that good … I know where he’s coming from. It sucked out there. It was a good call by them not having the event … He was probably here, you know, he can surf in anything. So it was probably nothing more than him wanting to wait for the waves to be better.”

Toledo told Tracks that the win against the former Pipe Master this morning had provided some much needed confidence heading into the next round.

“I’m feeling super good now. Of course I was nervous to compete against Bruce over here, he’s the best out here especially at Backdoor and also Pipe. It was a pleasure to compete against him and win that heat. It’s given me a lot of confidence to win against Bruce, he’s the only one that has made Kelly cry [laughs] so I’m feeling super comfortable now and comfortable for the next round.”

I think he meant Andy … but perhaps Filipe is taking strength via his own interpretation of history.

Meanwhile Jack Robinson put Adriano through hell in round 2. Jack bruised de Souza with a 7.33 late in the heat and forced Adriano to produce his best. An 8.27 drainer at Backdoor finally saved Adriano’s skin and Mineirinho hung on to the win by the smallest margin of all of round 2 – 0.60.

As de Souza was radiating good vibes and speaking enthusiastically to the media after his heat Tracks asked if house-mate Jamie O’ had give him any pointers before his round 2 clash. “You guys are really trying to create a story,” chuckled ADS.

While not revealing his heat strategy the sentimental Brazilian favourite explained that J.O.B had been his corner man at Pipe for the past few seasons with the revelation only coming into focus now that he’s in contention for a world title.

“Three or four years ago I knocked on his door and said, ‘Please I want to surf Pipe’. He looked at me and said, ‘No, you’re not going to stay in my home.’ Because I’m kind of like a strange guy for him you know. I did it because I don’t have these big sponsors here in front where you see all these houses that are dominated by the big brands. I said, ‘Jamie you’re the man.’ [Laughs]. He opened his door to me and I’m so happy to have a great relationship with him this year. It’s kind of cool, I’m a lucky man.”

“Right now I’m going to cheer for him because he’s going to be against Mick,” giggled de Souza. “I know you guys don’t like to hear that but for me it’s great. Even if Jamie loses it’s fine because I cannot think of a better guy to go up against the number one. I’ll be cheering for him no matter what.”

It seemed the theme of the day was that the more journeyed CT guys were going out of their way to expose the weaknesses of their more inexperienced counterparts. That’s exactly what happened when Dusty faced Kelly – a heat that was a must win for Dusty to avoid  relegation from the tour.

Unfortunately for Dusty his designs on requalifying came to a halt as Kelly found his mojo in the Backdoor-friendly conditions. Kelly’s surgically precise cutback after flying through a bending Backdoor barrel was just one the highlights from their heat. Despite Dusty picking off the highest scoring wave of their clash Kelly manufactured the right kind of rhythm to join the dots and move into the next round. Dusty is now at the crossroads of a competitive career that has oscillated between occasional peaks and many deep troughs.

“Dusty is one of those surfers whose results don’t do justice to his ability,” stated Slater after crushing the Hawaiian’s dream. Asked if he was in fact enjoying not being in the title race for a change Kelly’s hard-wired competitive mindset kicked in.

“It’s kind of nice but having a title shot keeps you focused. I had a couple of those moments in my heat where I felt my mind wandering, not real focused on the task at hand and when you have a title on the line you think of everything. At least my mind does; I think of every scenario. If I go here how much time is left, what’s he got to do, what kind of potential does this wave have … so it makes you a little more sharp.”

When competition resumes three Brazilians will still be in the hunt for the title. Mick will face Jamie O’ and Filipe will be in a showdown with a hot and cold Mason Ho. Meanwhile the defending Pipe Master, Julian Wilson, will be looking to write himself into the mix as a dark horse spoiler. The stage is set for a riveting round three with five world title contenders hurtling towards their destiny.

All photos Joli 

BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 2 RESULTS:

Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.23 def. Bruce Irons (HAW) 5.07

Heat 2: Taj Burrow (AUS) 13.77 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 11.20

Heat 3: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 13.10 def. Jack Robinson (AUS) 12.50

Heat 4: Adam Melling (AUS) 15.50 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 4.46

Heat 5:  Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.83 def. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 6.00

Heat 6: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.17 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.50

Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.57 def. Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.93

Heat 8: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 10.50 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 6.74

Heat 9: Glenn Hall (IRL) 8.60 def. Nat Young (USA) 7.80

Heat 10: Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.33 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 4.90

Heat 11: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 13.93 def. Ricardo Christie (NZL) 5.43

Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.00 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 4.87

BILLABONG PIPE MASTERS ROUND 3 MATCH-UPS:

Heat 1: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)

Heat 2: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)

Heat 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)

Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)

Heat 5:  Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Jamie O’Brien (HAW)

Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)

Heat 7: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Mason Ho (HAW)

Heat 8: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)

Heat 9: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Sebastian Zeitz (HAW)

Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)

Heat 11: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)

Heat 12: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)