WANNING, Hainan Island, China (Friday, January 13, 2012) – At first light, the forecasts presented by Surfline proved on point, as 4- to 6-foot sets rolled through Riyue Bay, for Day 3 of the Hainan Classic, a 4-Star Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) event.
What transpired were eight tightly contested heats, filled with late-heat game-changer scores and shuffling of positions, which kept the day’s action exciting and unpredictable.
While conditions weren’t quite as clean or consistent as what was on hand yesterday, there remained long walls of water ideal for the full repertoire of maneuvers.
“We’ve got a good wave at home called Box Head, it’s a long left, Mundaka-style, I surf that whenever it breaks,” said Glenn Hall, who’s the lone Irish surfer in the draw and advanced through to the semifinals. “It’s a long left where you do 150 turns; it gets you half-suited for this wave.”
Everyone remaining in the competition has proven a standout and shown a proficiency for the wave at Riyue Bay, but Hall has been one of the surfers sitting deepest and seemingly advancing somewhat unnoticed. As the big names fall around him – Peru’s Cristobal de Col, USA’s Chris Ward, and Australians Nic Muscroft and Heath Joske were all eliminated on Day 3 – Hall has been consistently posting huge scores and appearing at ease and surprisingly in-tune with whatever the wave offers.
Dion Atkinson was the first Australian through to the semifinalsafter a convincing win over the last standing Brazilian surfer Thomas Hermes.
“It’s such a luxury surfing such great waves in a man-on-man heat and hopefully I can keep being smart, picking the right waves and win my next two heats and win this event.”
South Africa’s Royden Bryson has probably put in more water time than any other surfer competing here. His South African teammates have come to calling a left-hand barrel in front of their hotel “Roydens,” since he was the first to discover it.
“We’ve just had insane waves; I haven’t surfed this much since I was a kid, I reckon,” said Bryson, a point that explains his comfort in the conditions. “I’ve just been spending hours and hours in the water every day and there are so many waves to surf. I’ve had an amazing time.”
That experience translated to two heat wins on Day 3 and a spot in the semifinals.
In the fourth quarterfinal, the final heat of the day, the two remaining Frenchmen were forced to fight for survival.
The pair went wave-for-wave most of the heat, with both surfers botching a few rides along the way. Lacomare stamped the lead with one of his signature, multi-maneuver rides for an 8.5.
“Before the heat we were just saying this is how it is; I wish we were in a different heat draw,” said Lacomare, following his win. “Somehow I’m always with my friends in the heat, I guess I have to get used to it now.”
Competition resumes in the morning with the first heat of the semifinals, with Dion Atkinson surfing against Glenn Hall, followed by Royden Bryson versus Marc Lacomare. The finals will follow, and then the event will wrap-up with the awards ceremony. According to the Surfline forecast, conditions are expected to drop for the final day, but they are expected to remain good.
The webcast will be live at the sound of the first heat horn, at 9:00am local time (5:00pm PST – 8:00pm EST). Watch it online on www.hainaninternationalsurfingfestival.com/hainan-classic/live.