MARGARET RIVER, Western Australia/AUS (Friday, April 8, 2016) - The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, the third stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, kicked off this morning with Women’s Round 1 followed by Men’s Round 1 in 4 feet + (1.5 metre) clean waves at Main Break in Western Australia.Matt Wilkinson (AUS), current Jeep Rankings Leader, continues to dominate on the 2016 CT as he defeated the injury replacement Stuart Kennedy (AUS) and Dusty Payne (HAW) to advance to Round 3. Wilkinson came out the gates strong with a 7.17 point ride, and continued to better his two-wave score with a solid 5 point ride. Kennedy and Payne were not able to find big enough second scores to combat Wilkinson.
“This 6’1” board is feeling really awesome, but I just buckled it on my last ride, which is a bummer, but I am stoked to win that heat,” Wilkinson said. “I’ve got some other boards so I should be okay. Hopefully the lefts turn on a bit and I can find some barrels and do some big open face carves.”
Adriano De Souza (BRA), reigning WSL Champion, defeat Trails winner Jacob Willcox (AUS) and Keanu Asing (HAW) in Heat 7 of today’s competition. De Souza held the lead with two 6 point rides. Willcox fought hard to out surf De Souza, but was unable to find the 6.37 score required to beat the defending event Champion. De Souza will advance to Round 3, while Willcox and Asing will battle to avoid elimination in Round 2.
“I am so happy to make this heat especially because Willcox surfed so well and Keanu is a dangerous threat in any kind of conditions,” De Souza said. “I am happy to get these nerves out of my system and come back to the place that gave me a lot of happiness in the past. Now I am trying to find my rhythm and see if I can go far through this contest.”
Italo Ferreira (BRA), 2015 Rookie of the Year faced 2016 WSL rookie Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and event Wildcard Jack Robinson (AUS) in Round 1 Heat 4. Igarashi held control for a majority of the heat, but it was Ferreira who surged ahead of Igarashi by only 1.22 points in the last five minutes. Ferreira landed a massive air-rotation on his last wave, reminding the field of the innovative maneuvers in his arsenal.
“I am so happy that I got those last two waves,” said Ferreira after his heat. “In the first ten minutes I did not catch any good waves where Kanoa got two good waves. In the last few minutes I got two good waves and did a couple of turns and airs. It was ninja and then I was scared when I saw the rocks, but it was so fun.”
CT veteran Joel Parkinson (AUS) faced 2016 WSL rookies Conner Coffin (USA) andRyan Callinan (AUS) in Heat 9. Coffin held control for most of the heat, but it was Parkinson who came back with a huge air that awarded him a 7.17 to win the heat and advance to Round 3. The rookies will compete in Round 2 to avoid elimination from the event.
“That was a really cool heat to surf against two rookies,” Parkinson said. “They are real eager and I was feeding off of their hunger. It was good to have two guys who are frothing on their first time on tour. I had about five different game plans going through my head and everything I tried to do I did the opposite. It’s one of those places where you have to adapt and surf to the conditions whatever way you can.”
Presumed 2016 Title contenders Julian Wilson (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Nat Young (USA) also won their Round 1 match-ups and will compete in Round 3.
Event organizers will convene tomorrow at 6:30am local time for a possible 7am start.
The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL app.
For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.34, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.10, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 5.43
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.10, Adam Melling (AUS) 15.47, Kai Otton (AUS) 12.06
Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.67, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.17, Dusty Payne (HAW) 7.60
Heat 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.67, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 14.54, Jack Robinson (AUS) 9.70
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.70, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 12.27, Davey Cathels (AUS) 10.16
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 13.10, Jacob Willcox (AUS) 12.40, Keanu Asing (HAW) 10.64
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.14, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.04, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.13
Heat 8: Nat Young (USA) 15.93, Matt Banting (AUS) 15.53, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 14.60
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.84, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.26, Ryan Callinan (AUS) 10.50
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Remaining Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA), Kolohe Andino (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 12: Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Jadson Andre (BRA)