COOLANGATTA, Queensland/Australia (Saturday, February 28, 2015) - The 2015 Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) officially kicked off today and the world’s best surfers hit the lineup at Snapper Rocks for the opening day of the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by BOQ. Both the men and the women surfed through Round 1 in an exciting day of action that saw big scores and electric performances.
Reigning WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) proved just why he wears the yellow jersey in his heat against compatriot Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and wildcard Dane Reynolds (USA). The Brazilian pair went blow for blow with the rookie testing Medina, holding the lead with an 8.93 and leaving Reynolds in a combination situation. The Champion answered back with a near-perfect 9.50 and the highest two-wave heat total of the day, an 18.30 (out of 20), to seal the win and his place in Round 3.
“That was a tough heat against Wiggolly,” Medina said. “I knew it would be a tough heat because I’ve been watching him over the years and his backside is dangerous. He put some good scores on the board but luckily I got that last wave and I made it, I’m stoked.”
Heat 5 saw a thrilling battle unfold between three-time World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), rookie Matt Banting (AUS) and trials winner Jack Freestone (AUS), who took to the water in an all-Australian match-up. All three surfers put on a show but it was Banting who held the lead at the halfway point. A fired-up Fanning put the pressure back on, posting the highest single-wave score of the day, a near-perfect 9.73, but it wasn’t enough to take the lead from the rookie, who claimed the first CT win of his career and caused the upset of the day. Fanning and Freestone will surf again in elimination Round 2.
“Coming in as one of the higher seeds in the QS (Qualifying Series) I didn’t think I’d have to face Mick straight away,” Banting said. “Having him and Freestone out here meant it was definitely a tough heat. It was so good to get a win so early in the year because I was so nervous going into it. I’m stoked to be here, and hopefully I’ll get a few results this year and be back next year.”
Freddy Patacchia Jr. (USA) dominated his Round 1 heat against 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and C.J. Hobgood (USA). Patacchia’s power surfing netted him two solid scores and a 15.66 heat total (out of a possible 20) with just 10 minutes gone. He went on to solidify his lead with another 8-point ride, leaving both Slater and Hobgood searching for two good scores. Slater made a final attempt with one minute remaining, but it wasn’t enough, and he will join Hobgood in elimination Round 2.
“I’m just happy that it’s a new year,” Patacchia said. “We get to start all over again from zero and show the judges and the fans what we’ve been working on in the off season. I was able to pick off some pretty good waves out there and show what I’ve got. It felt great and I feel strong physically and mentally. It’s good, it’s only Round 1, but it’s a good start.”
Dusty Payne (HAW) was in blistering form in his match-up against Brazilians Adriano de Souza and Filipe Toledo, stamping his authority on the heat with a near-perfect 9.67. Payne, who returns to the CT in 2015 after a year off tour due to injury, looked composed and confident out in the lineup at Snapper Rocks and his well-deserved win sees him move directly to Round 3.
“My goal is to keep winning heats and I want to be on this tour for a long time," Payne said. "Hopefully I’ll be here as long as Kelly’s been here. He’s a huge inspiration for me and I want to have a long and successful career like him.”
Patacchia and Payne lead a strong Day 1 for the Hawaiians with other Round 1 wins posted by Sebastian Zietz (HAW) and John John Florence (HAW).
“There’s definitely some nerves because it’s the first event the year,” Florence said. “I’m stoked that I’ve won that first heat, I feel good and like the momentum is still going from 2014. It was so inspiring to watch Gabriel win, I think it really pushed all us younger guys and think I want to win now, so I’m definitely really excited for this year.”
When the men’s competition resumes, up first will be Fanning against wildcard Reynolds in elimination Round 2.
Following Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro the world’s best female surfers took to the water for Round 1 of the Roxy Pro.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) began her 2015 campaign in Heat 2 against Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS). The Australians went back and forth through most of the heat, but Conlogue came back in the final minutes to take the top spot. An impressive buzzer beater in the dying seconds saw Fitzgibbons light up Snapper Rocks and claim an excellent 9.23 for the win.
“I tried to go into that first Round nice and relaxed and feeling confident in my approach,” Fitzgibbons said. “2015 is a new chapter for me. Heading into this next phase is about developing the things I’m passionate about. After publishing my first book it really inspired me and there’s no time like the present to go out on my own and start a new business venture. I’m really excited about it and can’t wait to see it come to fruition.”
Silvana Lima (BRA) marked her return to the CT with an outstanding performing in Round 1. An in-form Lima posted two excellent scores, an 8.83 and a near-perfect 9.33 (the highest single-wave score of the Roxy Pro so far), to win the heat, upsetting reigning WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the process. Trials winner Bronte Macaulay (AUS) will join Gilmore in elimination Round 2.
“I’m here for the fight and I go out into the water to do my best,” said Lima. “I feel confident - 100 percent, 1,000 percent - and I feel so great. This is the best surfing I’ve done in my life.”
Another exciting heat saw two-time Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) snatch the win from rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) in the final moments of their Round 1 bout with Laura Enever (AUS). Moore's victory secures her place in Round 3, while her opponents will surf again in Round 2.
“Considering the conditions I’m stoked I got the win today,” Moore said. “I’ve been working on having a strong overall game and being really enthusiastic and passionate about what I’m doing. I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to this season.”
When the women’s competition resumes, up first will be Conlogue against Erickson in elimination Round 2.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. local time to assess conditions for a possible 8 a.m. start.
The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast is webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.
The world's best surfing is also be broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports in Australia, MCS Extreme in France, EDGE Sports in China, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and the WSL's new partner in Brazil, Globo TV.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.16, Brett Simpson (USA) 11.87, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.00
Heat 2: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.60, Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.44, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 8.94
Heat 3: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 17.06, Kelly Slater (USA) 14.43, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.50
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.80, Glenn Hall (IRL) 12.84, Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.57
Heat 5: Matt Banting (AUS) 17.76, Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.06, Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.83
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.30, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 16.93, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.27
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.14, Kai Otton (AUS) 15.03, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.67
Heat 8: Dusty Payne (HAW) 16.34, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.53, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.66
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.19, Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.80, Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.43
Heat 10: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.44, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.44, Josh Kerr (AUS) 4.10
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.43, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.97, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.43
Heat 12: Nat Young (USA) 15.80, Adam Melling (AUS) 10.30, Owen Wright (AUS) 9.10
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 2: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 3: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 5: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Ricardo Christie (NZL)
Heat 6: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 11: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA)
Heat 12: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.80, Sage Erickson (USA) 13.33, Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.03
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.56, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.30, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 12.50
Heat 3: Silvana Lima (BRA) 18.16, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.00, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 9.73
Heat 4: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 11.76, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.26, Tyler Wright (AUS) 6.97
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.00, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 14.86, Laura Enever (AUS) 12.00
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.40, Coco Ho (HAW) 14.13, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.63
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 5: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
Heat 6: Laura Enever (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)