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Surf riders battle on

Manoj Kumar
Sunday, June 10, 2012

THE master, Kelly Slater, looks stronger than ever but as the night sky lit up yesterday, there were two rising stars shining bright over this surfers' paradise.

Hawaiian John John Florence, 19, has the art of ploughing huge barrels with ease while Brazilian Gabriel Medina does his bit of samba on the waves. His 360-degree turns on the tip of the swells were a joy to watch.

The two are through to the quarter-finals of the 20120 Volcom Fiji Pro together with world champion Slater and another South American Adriano de Souza.

The four won their third round heats in a man-on-man face-off before overcoming a three-in-one round four heats.

Crowd favourite John John scored two high nines in the third round before bagging a perfect 10 in the fourth to send top American Damien Hobgood into this mornings fifth round eliminations.

Damien and his twin CJ Hobgood will get another chance today to make the top eight.

Yesterday's competition was moved to Restaurants, just 150 metres from the island, as strong winds and inconsistent giant waves continued to swell around Cloudbreak.

This played into the hands of Slater. Having surfed the Restaurants more than any other international competitor on the world tour, the American ace, watched by his girlfriend Kalani Miller, came through with ease in both the third and fourth rounds.

The tightest contest of all was the showdown between roommates CJ Hobgood and South African Jordy Smith. They share the same accommodation with their wife and girlfriend and it was tense for their partners as they watched on from the island.

CJ's sweetheart, Courtney, at times could barely look at the live footage on the bar screen while Smith's heartbeat Lyndall was by the pool watching the action unfold at Restaurants.

In the end, CJ snatched it with a total of 17.33 points to Smith's 17.13, that's how close it was.

Off the waves, young Kyuss King, 12, celebrated his birthday in style with the resort staff. The kid from Byron Bay in Australia is a Volcom team rider touring the world.

Australian duo Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson are very much in the hunt for the $US75,000 first prizemoney but have to compete an extra round while the top four take a break and await their opposition.

Slater remains firm favourite, John John is right up there with the best but keep an eye out for the youngest of them all, 18-year-old Medina. The Brazilian sensation could yet pull off a shock and glide his way into the semis or even go all the way. Stay posted for more. Until tomorrow, tchau (as they say it in Brazil).

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