"We’ve got a good wave at home called Box Head, it’s a long left, Mundaka-style, and 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 a 150 turns; it gets you half-suited for this wave."
The Hainan Classic 2012 has seen the first serious knockdowns. Peru’s Cristobal de Col, USA’s Chris Ward, and Australians Nic Muscroft and Heath Joske have been eliminated. Dion Atkinson was the first Australian eliminated from contention in the ISA China Cup, the first of the two events in the Festival, but he’s the last surfer waving the colors of his country in the Hainan Classic.
"I guess it’s sort of a good and bad thing, luckily Australia went good (Team Australia won the team gold medal in the ISA China Cup) without me going too well in the ISA, but I’m stoked to be getting through heats; to be going good in this 4-Star is a great feeling," said Atkinson.
South Africa’s Royden Bryson has probably put in more water time than any other surfer competing in the ISA’s two-event Festival. 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. Both Joan Duru and Marc Lacomare have also proven themselves potential favorites – Lacomare for his 10, Duru for beating his teammate despite the 10 – but one had to go home.
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, so I guess I have to get used to it now."