In one metre (three foot) and reeling waves, Kelly Slater (USA), Andy Irons (HAW) and Taj Burrow (AUS) all won heats today thus keeping their stakes on the big prize alive.
Current ratings leader and seven-time world champion Slater surfed a very smart heat when he disposed of local wildcard Hodei Collazo (EUK) in the day's first encounter.
Slater looked to be in perfect position right throughout the heat and monopolised every set wave that pushed through the arena. Yet he felt within himself there is still plenty of room for improvement.
"I don't feel like I'm totally in sync with the waves yet," said Slater. "I felt like towards the end of that heat I was starting to open up a little more with my turns. I'm starting to feel a little more free ever time I surf."
At one stage the defiant Collazo had an opportunity to catch up to the heat frontrunner and Slater was worried his underdog rival could have pulled an upset.
He also joked that the result was payback for Collazo's win over Slater's good friend Taylor Knox in round two.
"I saw him take off on that wave," said Slater. "I had flash backs of Luke Egan beating me in '97 or '98 at Grajagan. The same thing happened… I saw him free-fall into the wave and I crossed my fingers hoping he wouldn't come out. I wasn't sure if he came out or not because I heard the crowd yelling. He beat my best friend the other day, Taylor Knox, so now we're even between me and my crew (laughs)."
His opponent Collazzo did put up a valiant effort and with the vocal crowd pushing him all the way he showed that he certainly possesses the skills that could take him onto the world stage.
Collazzo was appreciative of the opportunity to surf against his hero.
"I think it's a really good experience for me," said Collazo. "I've been watching him surf since I was really young. Surfing in these waves with Kelly Slater, who is a world champion, puts a lot of pressure on me, but I also learn a lot from him."
Slater must now face Cory Lopez (USA) in round four. And after having a strong run so far, Slater is also wary of Lopez's capabilities.
"I'm coming up against Cory Lopez in the next round and I'm hoping for some more open face waves," said Slater. "Cory can fit into those little barrels pretty good. He's one of the best tube riders in the world."
Irons meanwhile had a very close encounter with his rival in Yuri Sodre (BRA) almost letting him in the door in the last few minutes when Sodre grabbed a decent scoring ride.
Sodre, for an instant, went to the lead but was pegged back when Irons blasted a wave in the dying seconds.
"Yeah that was pretty sketchy," said Irons. "At the beginning I got a little laid back. I left the door wide open and he was at the gate for about 22 minutes or something, so it was definitely not one of my better heats. I didn't know what he got on that last wave, as I wasn't sure what he did, but I knew he went pretty far. I was definitely biting my nails out there."
Irons was more eager to build some momentum, as it's been a while since he surfed his round one heat.
"It's been over a week since my last heat," said Irons. "So it just felt good to get back in the water with a jersey on and get back into motion."
Burrow looked dangerous in his heat against rookie Adrian Buchan (AUS).
He only rode four waves in the heat, three of which demonstrated why he is one of the biggest names in the sport.
He was worried however that there was always a possibility that the ocean could go flat and adapted his strategy to suit.
"I saw Jake (Paterson) lose the heat before due to only getting one ride," said Burrow. "So I thought it would be good to get a bit of a wave count up, at least build a little house with a couple of small scores. It was pretty scarce though."
Only two other heats were run today as once again the tide filled in the break and the waves began to dry up.
As mentioned by Burrow, heat six between Jake Paterson (AUS) and Phil Macdonald (AUS) was a completely one-sided affair as Paterson only rode one wave during the heat.
"The ocean just went flat," said winner MacDonald. "Jake and I sat out there and Jake couldn't get a wave. I just fluffed around and got a 5.5 and a 4.83. I didn't think they were going to be counters but in the end they were the two highest scores of the heat. It's just one of those things, Mundaka turns on and then it turns off just as quick. It's just Mother Nature."
The remaining heat of the day was between Trent Munro (AUS) and Shaun Cansdell with Munro running home with a win.
"I've been surfing with Shaun ever since he was a little kid," said Munro. "I wasn't going to take him lightly. I was going to give it everything I've got and I'm sure he did the same. I owed him one from Trestles where he beat me so there you go Shauny!"
Munro now has the unenviable task of surfing against Andy Irons in round four.
"Again I've been surfing against Andy for years, all through the junior ranks," said Munro. "He's at the top of the world so to be up against him and giving him a good go, that's where I'm at."
Organisers will meet again tomorrow at 9am to check conditions and will no doubt wait once again for the tide to become favourable.
The www.surfline.com forecast indicates that while we perhaps won't see huge swell over the next few days there potentially could be some very nice waves on which the event will be completed.
"Wednesday will see mostly leftover energy with waist high waves on the better tides and occasional larger sets to chest high," said Surfline. "Going further out, it appears that back to back west north west swells will build through the day on Thursday and hold waves into Friday."
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Round three heat results: (1st to round four 2nd receives 17th placing and 410 ratings points)
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 19.70 def. Jarrad Howse (Aus) 8.27
Heat 2: Bruce Irons (Haw) 13.84 def. Luke Stedman (Aus) 7.66
Heat 3: Victor Ribas (Bra) 11.27 def. CJ Hobgood (Aus) 10.84
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (Aus) 18.00 def. Toby Martin (Aus) 15.00
Heat 5: Pancho Sullivan (Haw) 15.10 def. Tim Reyes (USA) 13.34
Heat 6: Tom Whitaker (Aus) 17.27 def. Chris Ward (USA) 13.67
Heat 7: Cory Lopez (USA) 12.17 def Travis Logie (ZAF) 10.34
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.33 def Hodei Collazo (EUK) 12.23
Heat 9: Andy Irons (HAW) 11.76 def Yuri Sodre (BRA) 10.60
Heat 10: Trent Munro (AUS) 13.73 def Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 12.96
Heat 11: Bobby Martinez (USA) 15.17 def Peterson Rosa (BRA) 12.94
Heat 12: Phil MacDonald (AUS) 10.33 def Jake Paterson (AUS) 4.67
Heat 13: Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.00 def Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.23
Remaining round three heats:
Heat 14: Greg Emslie (ZAF) vs Adriano de Souza (BRA)
Heat 15: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs Mikael Picon (FRA)
Heat 16: Dean Morrison (AUS) vs Michael Lowe (AUS)