JOEL Parkinson was the remaining Gold Coast surfer left in the Quiksilver Pro after a horror day which saw Mick Fanning and Josh Kerr eliminated.
The Snapper Rocks event is one locals have dominated in its 10-year history, with Fanning, 29, and Parkinson, 29, having taken two each and Dean Morrison, 30, another.
With Fanning's frustrating round-three loss to Dusty Payne, then Kerr's close defeat to Adrian Buchan, it was left to Parkinson to keep the Gold Coast flag flying and he did just that, by defeating Kai Otton in the second-last heat of round three.
Twice world champion Fanning failed to catch a wave in the final 10 minutes of his heat and was eliminated by less than a point, 11.77 to 11.
“I am the only one of the three local boys left now, so hopefully I'm the lone standing at the end too,” Parkinson said after his heat.
Fanning's was the first men's heat of the day and it certainly wasn't classic Snapper Rocks conditions, especially in the early heats on high tide. With the dropping tide barrels came on offer in 1.5 metre swell and Parkinson got plenty of them to beat Otton 14.14 to 7.17.
South Africa's Jordy Smith, 23, put in the performance of the day, posting a 17.17 out of a possible 20 for an unmatched affinity with the barrel, massive turns and aerials. The high-fi exhibition was enough to eliminate replacement surfer Cory Lopez (USA), 33.
“I was pretty nervous going into my heat,” Smith said. “Cory (Lopez), I know how well he surfs and I didn't want to get stuck behind the rocks. Matt (Wilkinson) and those guys psyched me up and it was fun out there surfing with one other guy.”
Finishing runner-up at this event last season as well as in the hunt for the ASP world title, the big South African is confident in his abilities and mind frame in 2011. “I'm feeling really good,” Smith said. “I feel confident. I have nice boards under my feet and am taking it one event at a time. I'm having fun with it.”
Keeping Australian hopes alive are Matt Wilkinson, 22, Adrian Buchan, 28, and defending champion Taj Burrow, 32.
Wilkinson put on an electric performance to beat Heitor Alves. The progressive goofy-footer blasted away at the bowly righthanders, netting a 9.27 out of a possible 10 for one of the highest single-wave scores of the day.
The performance included a nearly-completed rodeo flip that had the thousands in attendance on their feet.
Burrow beat world tour rookie Julian Wilson to advance.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.