Wills a Reunion Island survivor
By STEVE SPINKS and AAP
BYRON Bay's Danny Wills yesterday played his part in a remarkable day of upsets in the Rip Curl Search World Championship Tour surfing contest at St Leu, Reunion Island.
Wills knocked over fifth seed, West Australian Taj Burrow, with the third highest-scoring heat of the day (17.10) to steam his way into the quarter-finals.
But more was to follow.
Jake Paterson defeated Trent Munro (fourth seed) and Sydney's Phil MacDonald knocked out Gold Coaster Joel Parkinson (third).
But the major surprises came from Brazilian Peterson Rosa and Sydney's Darren O'Rafferty.
The little-known surfers claimed the biggest scalps of all in reigning world champion Andy Irons (second seed) and current ratings leader Kelly Slater respectively.
For Wills, it's a timely return to the World Championship Tour at the quarter-finals level.
In three of the four previous events, the 29-year-old natural footer has been knocked out in the third round.
Currently ranked 16, Wills' best result this season was a third at the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach.
O'Rafferty was the biggest surprise winner, beating Slater who has been in top form, winning the previous two contests.
Sydney's Nathan Hedge and Gold Coaster Mick Fanning are the two other Australians left in the field ahead of today's quarter finals.
MEANWHILE Byron Bay surfer Ellis Ericson is through to the semi-finals of the Under-16 division of the Billabong Occys Grom Competition at Duranbah.
After Occy's comp concludes today, Ericson will return home to contest the Rusty Gromfest at Lennox Head, which starts on Friday.