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SA duo through to Round 4 Down Under
- Updated: March 29, 2016
Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag have advanced to Round 4 of the men’s and women’s events at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the second stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).
Both South Africans suffered early exits at the first event of year on the Gold Coast of Australia two weeks ago and, being the tallest surfers on their respective tours, have relished the additional size and power of the waves at Bells Beach, the iconic venue for this event for past 55 years.
Smith, after finishing second to John John Florence (HAW) in their non-elimination Round 1 heat held in one-metre waves on Friday, was able to use his full repertoire of carving rail manoeuvres to defeat dangerous injury replacement Adam Melling (AUS) in unruly double overhead, three metre conditions on Saturday.
The Durbanite continued his momentum on Sunday, slashing his way through the 1 to 1.5 metre onshore surf on Sunday to post victory over Kai Otton (AUS) and advance to Round 4. There he faces three-time world champion and four-time and defending Bells champion Mick Fanning (AUS) and rookie Conner Coffin (USA) with the heat winner progressing directly to the quarterfinals while the other two compete in elimination two-man Round 5 heats.
Smith, a three-time semi-finalist at Bells, and Fanning are the only top-12 seeded surfers remaining in the bottom half of the draw following a series of major upsets that saw Joel Parkinson, Florence and Gabriel Medina sidelined by rookies Coffin, Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Davey Cathels (AUS), while Kelly Slater was ousted by Michel Bourez (PYF).
Buitendag started her Bells campaign with a well deserved Round 1 win over six-time world champ Stephanie Gilmore and rookie Chelsea Tuach of Barbados to skip Round 2. However, the 22 year-old from Victoria Bay was relegated to third place by reigning world and Bells champ Carissa Moore and fellow Hawaiian Malia Manuel in Round 3.
Buitendag faces a match up with another Hawaiian in Alessa Quizon when competition resumes with the winner advancing to a quarter-final clash with Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and the loser eliminated from the event in equal ninth place overall.
Sunday’s action was capped off with the WSL Heritage Series heat between Australian former world champions Barton Lynch (1988) and Damien Hardman (1987, 1991). Despite the challenging lineup, the icons surgically dismantled the tricky Bells conditions on their backhand, with Lynch walking away the victory.