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Outerknown Sponsor Fiji…

Outerknown Sponsor Fiji…

In a welcome move for the tour Kelly’s brand Outerknown has picked up title sponsorship of the Fiji Pro. Cloudbreak and Kelly go way back so it makes sense. Of course if he wins the event it might get a bit awkward… The judges will be on their best behaviour 😉

***WSL RELEASE***

The World Surf League (WSL) today announces Outerknown as the title sponsor of the iconic WSL Championship Tour event in Fiji. The three-year partnership includes both men’s and women’s competitions at the OK Fiji Pro, which runs this season from May 28 through June 16, 2017.

Founded by 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater and acclaimed designer John Moore, Outerknown is a coastal-minded clothing brand that explores the connections between style and sustainability. By viewing every aspect of their business through the lens of responsibility, they aim to protect natural resources, empower the people crafting their clothes, and inspire positive change within the industry. Outerknown’s versatile collection is built with innovative, organic, and recycled materials sourced from factories that share their values.

Slater has delivered consistently barrier-breaking performances at the elite level in Fiji and the four-time event winner has a strong relationship with the island of Tavarua, making it his favorite wave, and the OuterKnown partnership a natural evolution.

“I fell in love with the small island of Tavarua a long time ago and I go back a few times every year.” said Kelly Slater. “It’s definitely my favorite escape and may be home to the happiest people on earth.”

A staple on the globally-celebrated WSL Championship Tour schedule, the Fiji stop epitomizes the “Dream Tour” concept and exists as a fan and athlete favorite. Boasting two world-class lefthand reef breaks in Cloudbreak and Restaurants, Fiji consistently delivers some of the best surfing of the season. Defending event winners Johanne Defay and Gabriel Medina will lead the WSL elite back this year where Outerknown will support the event.

“We’re very excited to welcome Outerknown to the WSL family and look forward to working with them to showcase the world’s best surfers at one of the most incredible events on the Championship Tour,” said Beth Greve, WSL Chief Commercial Officer.

“Outerknown was built on a foundation of style, sustainability and travel,” said John Moore, Outerknown’s Creative Director. “For us, Fiji brings together everything we stand for. It’s the ultimate destination; lush jungles, crystal clear waters, perfect waves. You look around and are surrounded by jaw-dropping natural beauty. There’s no better place on Earth to celebrate why we’re working so hard to protect our ocean and wild places, and we hope to inspire new fans from all around the world to explore sustainability.”

“The level of surfing on tour right now, on both the men’s and women’s sides, has never been higher,” Stephanie Gilmore, 6X WSL Women’s Champion and current 2017 tour frontrunner, said. “That’s in part because we have amazing waves to perform on. Fiji has some of the best waves on the planet and is part of the fabric of the Championship Tour. Having Outerknown step up to support men’s and women’s surfing with the OK Fiji Pro for the next three years is a great thing for surfing.”

The OK Fiji Pro gets underway with the women’s competition on May 28 through June 2, followed by the men’s event, which holds a competitive window of June 4 – 16. The events will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on the WSL’s Facebook page.

John John Florence

Stephanie Gilmore

Beth Hamilton

Jordy Smith Rings the Bell!

Jordy Smith Rings the Bell!

Jordy Smith of South Africa advances to the final after winning Semifinal Heat 2 at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach.

Jordy Smith (ZAF) has won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach today after electric performances in pumping six-to-eight foot (2 – 2.5 metre) conditions at the iconic venue in the Australian State of Victoria. Smith bested fellow Finalist Caio Ibelli (BRA) in a classic Bells Beach showdown to close out the Australian leg.

Jordy Smith of South Africa is the 2017 Rip Curl Pro Champion with Caio Ibelli of Brazil the runner-up. With their results Smith moves into World No. and Ibelli moves in to World No. 7 positition on the Jeep Leaderboard.

The third stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, is the longest-running professional surf event in the world. This year’s 56th iteration saw a competitive field of elite surfers throw down their best performances with Smith earning the right to ‘ring the Bell’ for the first time in his career.

Smith secured his sixth Championship Tour win today following a series of heated match-ups against Ibelli, 2017 CT Rookie Ezekiel Lau (HAW) and 2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA). The win marks Smith’s best result here at Bells, following his runner-up finish in 2016, and moves him up to World No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard.

“I can’t even believe it — second last year and now this — it’s amazing,” Smith said. “I was stoked to have made it into Round 4 and then every heat after that was a bonus. I tried to take it easy and not take things too seriously, as you may have been able to tell from some of my claims in the Final. This is an absolute dream come true. I’ve been working on winning this event for 10 years now and to get it today is incredible.”

An intense Final witnessed Smith and Ibelli blast huge scores as they put all on the line to win. Smith charged with two 9-point rides for the lead. Ibelli answered back with a near-perfect 9.63 (out of a possible 10), needing a 9.25 with ten minutes left on the clock. Smith continued to heat things up with a 9.13, raising the requirement to a 9.28. With a 17.46 two-wave score, Ibelli was not able to defeat the South African’s commanding 18.90.

“I wasn’t sure how many opportunities I was going to get with the high tide so I just took every wave I could,” continued Smith. “Once I got the 9, a bit of the pressure dropped and then, sure enough, Caio [Ibelli] kept coming. He is an amazing surfer and has been so on point this event. After a few years of injury and re-building, I feel like the pieces of the puzzle are coming together this year. My family and wife are right behind me and I couldn’t do it without their support.”

Ibell’s runner-up finish is his career-best result on the elite CT. The 2016 Rookie of the Year showcased a new level to his surfing with powerful, high-risk maneuvers to take out a tough field of challengers in final series. In his first time competing at Bells last season, Ibelli eliminated John John Florence (HAW) in Round 3. In a Semifinal rematch, Ibelli took out Florence once again to earn his first Finals appearance. The young Brazilian will now launch from 19th to 7th on the rankings.

“This trophy is going to look really nice in my house,” Ibelli said, “This has been the best Easter I have ever had. I’m so stoked. The waves and the support at Bells is so amazing. It’s really special.  To be in the Final with Jordy Smith, someone I’ve always looked up to, at a perfect wave like Bells is a dream come true for me.”

The second Semifinal saw Smith eliminate Lau from the draw after an intense clash. Lau had been on a tear all day, even eliminating 2017 World Title contender Filipe Toledo (BRA) on his way to his best-ever result on the Championship Tour. With a 13th place result on the Gold Coast and 25th at Margaret River, Lau will now climb up to 11th on the Jeep Leaderboard.

“I had a lot of good heats at this event and was able to put it together more than I thought I was going to at times,” Lau said. “I’m really stoked with how I surfed at this event. Coming that close to the Final and falling short does hurt a bit, but Jordy [Smith] has been surfing really well and capitalized at the end. This has definitely built up my confidence, especially after a poor result at Margaret River. I just can’t wait to get to Brazil and hopefully keep the roll going.”

Reigning WSL Champion Florence was defeated in the first Semifinal by eventual runner-up Ibelli. Florence posted extraordinary results at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, but fell just 0.20 points short of the win against the Brazilian powerhouse. Despite the Semifinal loss, Florence is off to his best start on the CT after his victory at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro and Semifinal finish at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Still ranked first in the world, Florence will look to defend his event title in Rio and retain the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey.

“This is by far my best start to the year, so I’m really happy,” Florence said. “I had a really fun event with some great heats, but unfortunately Caio [Ibelli] got me again at Bells Beach. I made a few mistakes that were kind of beneficial because I can take a lot from them and learn from them. I’m really looking forward to head back to Brazil in a few weeks. I’ve had success there and the waves are really fun, so it should be a great event. I’ve had an awesome Australian leg and am stoked with how it all went.”

Florence showed just how ruthless the competition is on the elite Champion Tour is with two narrow wins over three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) in Round 4 and the Quarterfinals. Four-time event winner Fanning charged down massive sets to showcase his sharp, aggressive maneuvers and earn some of the highest wave scores of the day, including an 18.86 in Round 4. Unfortunately, Fanning was not able to combat the 24-year-old competitor and will leave with a 5th place finish, his best result on the 2017 CT thus far.

“That was a great battle with John [Florence] today,” Fanning said. “We were both putting up solid scores, so it was always going to be interesting. I’m really happy with my performance at this event. It just feels good to put a few good heats together and get a bit of rhythm back. At the start of the year, I was trying to do things the way I have in the past and it just wasn’t working for me. At this event I took a really relaxed approach and it felt way better. Getting pumping waves at Bells and Winki was great and going down to the Champ is not the worst thing that could happen.”

A heated Round 5 showdown saw Fanning eliminate good friend Owen Wright (AUS) from the event. The two Australian veterans battled with big scores, including a near-perfect 9.10 from Wright and a masterful 9.60 from Fanning. With Fanning in the lead at the halfway mark, Wright needed a 9.18 in his final attempt but was not able to turn in the requirement and will say in second on the Jeep Leaderboard, now tied with Smith.

“I’m not too happy with a ninth place result, but I’ll definitely take it,” Wright said. “I don’t come into an event without high expectations, so I was definitely aiming for a better result, but I’ll still walk away with a keeper. If I was going to choose anyone to knock me out of the event it would have been Mick [Fanning], so I can’t complain about going down to him. It was great to come back and compete at Bells in great waves.”

2017 CT Rookie Frederico Morais (PRT) was eliminated in the opening Quarterfinal by Ibelli. This is the rookie’s best result as a full-time CT competitor and he will move to 19th on the Jeep Leaderboard. With early exits from the first two events this season, Morais’ comeback at Bells will put him in a great position heading into Rio.

The next stop on the 2017 WSL Championship Tour is the Oi Rio Pro in Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from May 9 – 20, 2017. The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Final Results:
1 –
Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.90
2 – Caio Ibelli (BRA) 17.46

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Semifinal Results:
SF 1:
Caio Ibelli (BRA) 17.63 def. John John Florence (HAW) 17.43
SF 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.63 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.17

Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1:
Caio Ibelli (BRA) 16.00 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 14.50
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 16.70 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.77
QF 3: Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 18.60 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.66
QF 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.77 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.53

DAY 2 OF DRUG AWARE MARGARET RIVER PRO DELIVERS BIG UPSETS

DAY 2 OF DRUG AWARE MARGARET RIVER PRO DELIVERS BIG UPSETS

The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 2 of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), saw another massive day of action as competition moved back to the primary location at Margaret River Main Break. With five-to-eight foot (1.5 – 2.5 metre) waves on offer, the men’s event saw its first eliminations through Round 2, while the women’s event kicked off the first three heats of Round 1.

The day started with the shock elimination of 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA). Medina fell out of the draw at the hands of local wildcard Jacob Willcox (AUS). The two goofy-footers went blow for blow in the massive right-handers at Main Break, but Willcox’s local knowledge was too much for the Brazilian super-star. Medina leaves Western Australia with his first throw-away result of the season.

“Local knowledge plays a big part here, but you can never discount anyone on the CT,” Willcox said. “Winning the trials was massive for me, but taking down a former WSL Champion is definitely an awesome feeling. There are plenty of waves around still so it would be awesome if we could drift across to The Box and get some barrels at some stage.”

Three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) was another shock exit from the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro draw after he was upset by Kanoa Igarashi (USA) in Heat 11 of Round 2. Igarashi was on the ropes until a set wave in the last minute gave him a score to move in front by only 0.01 of a point. Fanning was unable to resurrect the situation and uncharacteristically bows out in equal 25th.

“I went into that heat treating it like a final,” Igarashi said. “I felt like I made a mistake on my opening score, which meant I had more in the tank. All heats are nerve-racking but taking on Mick Fanning is especially difficult. He is an amazing competitor and has always been one of my favourite surfers.”

Upsets continued in Heat 2 with injury replacement Nat Young (USA) taking down current World No. 2 Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in a close goofy-foot battle. Falling off the CT at the end of 2016, Young has taken this opportunity as a wildcard to showcase his abilities. His comfort in the cold and wild conditions at Main Break was evident throughout the heat. Wilkinson will exit with a 25th place finish, while Young will have another opportunity to prove himself when he comes up against 2017 World Title contender Kolohe Andino (USA) in Round 3.

“I definitely feel really comfortable in these conditions we get in Western Australia,” Young said. “I have been coming to Margaret River since I was 16-years-old and have a good affiliation with this spot. It reminds me a lot of my home town of Santa Cruz, so I love coming here to compete. There is still pressure to perform at this event, but it’s a different kind of pressure.”

Current Jeep Rankings Leader Owen Wright (AUS) continued his stellar form with a solid performance to win Heat 3 of Round 2. Wright, who recently returned to the 2017 CT full-time, came up against rookie Ezekiel Lau (HAW). Lau was pressing the entire heat, but was unable to better Wright’s 14.00 point total, which was earned with his trademark backhand attack.

“It’s so perfect out there – the conditions are pristine,” Wright said. “Ezekiel [Lau] is such a powerful surfer, so it was always going to be tough in these conditions. I feel like I lucked into the better waves. It was intimidating when I first arrived over here and saw the wild ocean and the forecast we had, but once I had a few surfs and got my feet in the wax, it all came back to me and I’m really loving getting out in this Western-Australian-power.”

Connor O’Leary (AUS) was the only rookie to survive elimination Round 2 after taking out Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) in Heat 10. Only O’Leary and Brazilian charger Ian Gouveia (BRA) will represent the rookie class in Round 3.

“That heat was interesting as I was on a brand new board that I had never surfed before,” O’Leary said. “The conditions have changed a lot since this morning. The wind is up and the swell has dropped a bit so I made a last minute decision to ride a different board, and luckily, it went well. I was hoping the wind would back off a bit, but it actually made it a little better as there are more sections to hit. I’m enjoying the CT. I haven’t changed my mentality at all, I just try to stay really relaxed and not get to worked up before a heat.”

2017 CT Rookie Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) was eliminated from the competition by 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) in Round 2 Heat 4. Fioravanti, who earned a fifth place finish at this event last season, put up another stunning performance with two strong 7-point rides, but it was not enough to overtake the Australian Champion. Fioravanti will leave with a 25th place finish.

“That was really fun out there and I was really enjoying myself,” Parkinson said. “Getting to ride a bigger board and really commit to turns is so nice. Leonardo [Fioravanti] is always a threat, particularly in waves like this, so I was definitely feeling the pressure. I’m in a great headspace this year and am really keen to compete, I feel like I’m a grommet again.”

“I’m not too disappointed with that loss,” Fioravanti said. “I was really happy with how I surfed and competing against a guy like Joel Parkinson is never going to be a walk in the park. Joel was lucky to be in the spot when the best waves came and I had priority during a lull in the waves, so it was out of my control. I’m feeling good and will now shift my focus to Bells.”

Rookies Joan Duru (FRA), Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Frederico Morais (PRT) were also unable to escape elimination Round 2 after falling to Filipe Toledo (BRA), Conner Coffin (AUS) and CT veteran Adrian Buchan (AUS), respectively.

2016 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA), Bede Durbidge (AUS) and Miguel Pupo (BRA) will continue through to Round 3 after winning their match-ups today.

The day continued to see Main Break produce solid waves, with windswept five foot (1.5) conditions through the first three heats of women’s Round 1. With an opportunity to skip elimination Round 2, the women went all-out in the challenging lineup to earn their place in Round 3.

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Jacob Willcox (AUS) 10.53 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.00
Heat 2: Nat Young (USA) 14.60 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 11.84
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.40 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 13.00
Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.86 def. Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) 14.83
Heat 5: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.60 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.84
Heat 6: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.00 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 12.03
Heat 7: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 11.83 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.34
Heat 8: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.50 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 12.77
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.50. Frederico Morais (PRT) 15.50
Heat 10: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 13.43 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.94
Heat 11: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 12.77 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.76
Heat 12: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.87 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 9.17

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jack Freestone (AUS)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 5: Conner Coffin (USA) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Heat 8: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 9: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 10: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 11: Filipe Toledo (BRA) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS)
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Nat Young (USA)

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.93, Johanne Defay (FRA) 8.50, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 2.97
Heat 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 10.66, Sage Erickson (USA) 10.07, Coco Ho (HAW) 4.57
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.34 , Laura Macaulay (AUS) 11.34, Keely Andrew (AUS) 7.83

Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Remaining Women’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Nikki Van DIjk (AUS), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Lakey Peterson (USA), Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 6: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Silvana Lima (BRA)


For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

2017 WSL Big Wave Award Nominees Announced

2017 WSL Big Wave Award Nominees Announced

Congrats to our new issue cover star Conor Maguire on his WSL Big Wave Award nomination! He’s up for the Tube of the Year category. Also up for an award is Tom Lowe in the hard earned Wipeout of the Year, a category that gets crazier every year. 

Conor Maguire at Mullaghmore by Flanagan

Jamie Mitchell at Nazaré by Soares

Francisco Porcella at Nazaré by Aleixo

The list of nominees for the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Awards have been announced. With $350,000 in total prize money to be allotted across the seven categories and a TAG Heuer Watch for each winner, the Big Wave Awards will honor the best performances of the year, from tubes to wipeouts. Photographs and videos of all the nominated rides can be viewed at worldsurfleague.com/bigwave.

Nominated rides come from every corner of the world, including California, Tasmania, Portugal, Hawaii, Mexico and Fiji. Shortlisted surfers range from established veterans such as the newly crowned Big Wave Tour Champions Grant Baker (ZAF) and Paige Alms (HAW) to younger rising stars like Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (BRA), Trevor Sven Carlson (HAW) and Kai Lenny (HAW).

“This year’s WSL Big Wave Awards has seen a clear push from a group of younger surfers now making their mark in the big wave arena,” said Bill Sharp, the event’s director. “Diversity is probably the theme this year, with epic paddle sessions in places like California and Mexico, then tow days in Maui or Portugal to mix it up, with the young crew willing to try whatever discipline works best for the conditions at hand. Paddling is still regarded as the gold standard, but when it’s giant and windy — like it was at Jaws and Nazaré at times this winter — the limits were being pushed like never before.”

http://www.bigwaveawards.com

Another obvious trend from this season is the continuing emergence of Nazaré in Portugal as a big wave hotbed. Virtually unknown as a big wave break until the last six or seven years, the once-sleepy fishing village earned no less than nine nominations this year, including three contenders for the TAG Heuer XXL Biggest Wave Award and two nods for the Biggest Paddle division, more than anywhere else in the surfing world.

The WSL Big Wave Awards competition window concluded on March 21, 2017 and spanned the previous 12 months of surfing action. Every wave ridden at every big wave break around the world in this period was eligible for consideration across seven categories. A panel of judges chose the five best rides in each of the categories based on photographic and video evidence.

The winners will be crowned at a gala invitation-only awards show at the Pasea Hotel in Huntington Beach, California on April 29, 2017. Viewers around the world are invited to watch the live webcast at worldsurfleague.com and live on the WSL’s Facebook page. The show will also be televised later on the CBS Sports Network in the US.

BILLABONG RIDE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES:

Surfer prizes total $125,000 – Videographer prizes total $13,000
Ben Andrews (Morro Bay, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on November 9, 2016. (Video by Curt Myers.)
Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 22, 2016. (Video by Nuno Dias.)
Billy Kemper (Haiku, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 11, 2016. (Video by Etienne Aurelius.)
Jamie Mitchell (Currumbin, Queensland, Australia) at Puerto Escondido, Mexico on June 24, 2016. (Video by WSL Video Team.)
Francisco Porcella (Sardegna, Italy) at Nazaré, Portugal on February 28, 2017. (Video by Javier Goya.)

Dan Ryan at The Right by White

TUBE OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES:

Surfer prize $10,000 – Still photography prize $5,000
Dane Gudauskas (San Clemente, California, USA) at Cloudbreak, Fiji on May 23, 2016. (Photos by Pat Stacy and WSL Photo Team.)
Conor Maguire (Bundoran, Ireland) at Mullaghmore Head, Ireland on March 15, 2017. (Photo by Conor Flanagan.)
Bradley Norris (Perth, W.A. Australia) at The Right, Western Australia on May 16, 2016. (Photos by Jamie Scott and Chris White.)
Dan Ryan (Margaret River, W.A. Australia) at The Right, Western Australia on May 16, 2016. (Photos by Trent Slatter and Chris White.)
Shanan Worrall (Margaret River, W.A. Australia) at The Right, Western Australia on May 16, 2016. (Photos by Jamie Scott and Chris White.)

TAG HEUER WIPEOUT OF THE YEAR AWARD NOMINEES: 

Surfer prize $5,000  –  Videographer prize $2,000
Wilem Banks (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California  on January 26, 2017. (Video by Curt Myers.)
Nathan Florence (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Maverick’s, California  on January 26, 2017. (Video by Blakeney Sanford.)
Danny Griffiths (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia) at Shipstern Bluff, Tasmania on June 16, 2016. (Video by Dave Otto.)
Tom Lowe (St. Ives, Cornwall, United Kingdom) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016. (Video by Nuno Dias.)
Rafael Tapia (Santiago, Chile) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016. (Video by Nuno Dias.)

TAG HEUER XXL BIGGEST WAVE AWARD NOMINEES:

Surfer prize $25,000 – Photographer prize $5,000
Trevor Sven Carlson (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 23, 2016.
(Photo by Vitor Estrelinha.)
Kai Lenny (Paia, Hawaii, USA) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on November 8, 2016.
(Photos by Aaron Lynton and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Marcus Rodrigues.)
Francisco Porcella (Sardegna, Italy) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Pedro Bala, André Botelho, Silvino Esperanca and Rafael Riancho. Video by Timelapse Media.)
Sebastian Steudtner (Nuremberg, Germany) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, Helio Antonio, Miguel Chaby, Rafael Riancho and Hugo Silva. Video by Timelapse Media.)
Hugo Vau (Terceira, Azores, Portugal) at Nazaré, Portugal on October 24, 2016.
(Photos by Mauro Correia, Pedro Cruz and João Serpa. Video by Timelapse Media.)

Chris Mashburn at Maverick’s by Quirarte

PADDLE AWARD NOMINEES:

Surfer prize $30,000 – Photographer prize $5,000
Ben Andrews (Morro Bay, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on November 9, 2016.
(Photos by Michael Andrew and Fred Pompermayer. Video by Curt Myers.)
Trevor Sven Carlson (Haleiwa, Hawaii, USA) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 17, 2016.
(Photos by Rafael Elias, Vitor Estrelinha and Guilherme Soares. Video by Andreas Jansen.)
Lucas “Chumbo” Chianca (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 22, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, André Botelho, Andrea Carminati, Pedro Cruz and Pedro Miranda. Video by Nuno Dias.)
Christopher Mashburn (San Diego, California, USA) at Maverick’s, California on January 26, 2017.
(Photos by Nikki Brooks, Silvin Morgan, Fred Pompermayer and Frank Quirarte. Video by Blakeney Sanford.)
Jamie Mitchell (Currumbin, Queensland, Australia) at Nazaré, Portugal on December 20, 2016.
(Photos by Bruno Aleixo, André Botelho and Guilherme Soares. Video by WSL Video Team.)

Justine Dupont at Nazaré by Riancho

WOMEN’S BEST PERFORMANCE AWARD NOMINEES:

First prize $15,000, $32,500 total
Paige Alms (Haiku, Hawaii, USA)
Justine Dupont (Lacanau, France)
Keala Kennelly (Hanalei, Hawaii, USA)
Nicole Pacelli (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
Bianca Valenti (Mill Valley, California, USA)

Bearman Gets A Semi!

Bearman Gets A Semi!

The World Surf League (WSL) Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships has its finals day matchups set after a another massive day of competition that witnessed both men and women’s Quarterfinal bouts. Tupira continued to create opportunities for event spoilers to shine and that was the case once again after nearly all former World Champions were eliminated from PNG.

The upsets began early on after Crystal Walsh (HAW) dispatched 2015 WLC World Champion Rachael Tilly (USA) from competition in dramatic fashion. It was a rematch of the 2015 Jeep World Longboard Championships Final where Tilly claimed her first-ever Title, but a win here in PNG was not meant to be for the former champion.

Once tilly earned an excellent 8.27 (out of a possible 10) in response to Walsh’s lead changing 7.37, the former World Champion looked to be on her way to another Semifinal appearance. But, within the last minute, Walsh was granted one last opportunity to seize a win over Tilly and took full advantage with beautiful footwork and sweeping turns for a 9.00.

“I’ve met up with her a few times since then as well and never come out victorious so going into that heat I was a little nervous with that in the back of mind,” Walsh said. “But, I wasn’t going to let that throw my game. I could hear the commentator give the one-minute warning and I saw that wave coming, and it was a bomb. I just pulled it together and gave it all I had and it worked out — I’m so pumped.”

That trend continued into Quarterfinal, Heat 2, as Kaitlin Maguire (USA) defeated former World Champion Chelsea Williams (AUS) with a brilliant performance. Maguire trailed in need of a near-excellent score for most of the heat until a 7.17 lowered that requirement. But, the Californian wasn’t done yet and found a 5.97 in the dying minutes to overcome Williams and hold onto that lead until the final buzzer sounded.

“That was such a hard heat against Chelsea Williams, my nerves were out of control out there, but I held it together and I’m just ecstatic to be moving on,” Maguire said. “[Staying in the pocket] is just something I’ve always done, I wouldn’t say I’ve changed my style of surfing since I was young — I was taught by a lot of the guys to just stay as deep in the pocket as possible. Over time I’ve tried to put myself in the most critical section of the wave and not be out on the shoulder so that’s just something that comes natural to me these days.”

2016 WLC runner-up Chloe Calmon (BRA) put an end to the upsets occurring and locked in her Semifinal appearance on the WLC stage once again, this time over Alice Lemoigne (FRA).

Honolua Blomfield (HAW) followed suit as the higher-seeded surfer over Lindsay Steinriede (USA) with yet another 9.00 in this contest and now prepares for a big Semifinal bout with Calmon.

The men’s action got in the water right away after Blomfield’s performance and intense battles followed featuring some of the world’s best.

A world-class battle ensued to start the men’s Quarterfinals with Kai Sallas (HAW) pitted against Australian 2x World Champion Harley Ingleby (AUS). Sallas and Ingleby both got off to a quick start, though it was the Hawaiian who topped Ingleby with an 8.33. The two continued trading wave-for-wave until the final horn and it was Sallas who shut the door with a near-perfect 9.57 — earning the highest heat total of the day, a 17.90 (out of a possible 20).

“To beat a two-time World Champ, Harley’s one of my favorite surfer’s so to beat him and make it to the Semis makes it that much more special,” Sallas said. “I’ve always known I could [win a World Title], but it’s really hard when you only have one event a year. You have to be lucky on that day, that event, and that moment. I never really got along with China and a few other spots — I feel much better out here with this being my style of wave. If I walked up on any given day and saw these waves I’d be psyching to get out there. I feel like I’m surfing better than I ever have in my life.”

Antoine Delpero (FRA) added to his World Champion scalp collection with another phenomenal performance and eliminated 2x World Champion Piccolo Clemente (PER). Delpero got off to a quick start and continued to feel the flow of Tupira beneath his feet, something that earned him an 8.17 in the early goings. Clemente struggled to find a wave of excellent scoring potential until it was too late and Delpero sealed the heat with an 8.93 to end the dual.

But, it was an amazing performance from Adam Griffiths (GBR) who shut down Antoine’s brother, and event standout, Edouard Delpero (FRA). Griffiths has bettered his best result at a WLC with each passing heat after Round Three and is now into his first-ever Semifinal. A feel-good story all around, Griffiths lost his mother just three months ago and has surfed with more passion than ever here in PNG.

“I can’t believe it, to have made it this far is just an incredible feeling and I’m beyond excited to keep this momentum going,” Griffiths said. “I’ve been pretty relaxed, that heat was a bit stressful — my head was throbbing and felt like it was going to explode. Luckily I just about managed to keep it together, but now that I’ve made it this far I feel a lot of stress off me. Now it’s all about just enjoying the rest of my time here and this amazing experience.”

An all-American affair witnessed 2x World Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) display another showcase of his powerful surfing over the stylish Cole Robbins (USA). Robbins opted for a classic single-fin set up, but it wasn’t enough to top an on-fire Jensen who ran away with the heat after his 8.33 opener.

Tune in live for tomorrow’s final day of competition as the Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships crowns its inaugural champions. For more information, go to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the WSL App for updates on your mobile device.

Upcoming Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Semifinal Matchups:
SF 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) vs. Antoine Delpero (FRA)
SF 2: Taylor Jensen (USA) vs. Adam Griffiths (GBR)

Upcoming Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
SF 1: Crystal Walsh (HAW) vs. Kaitlin Maguire (USA)
SF 2: Chloe Calmon (BRA) vs. Honolua Blomfield (HAW)

Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) 17.90 def. Harley Ingleby (AUS) 16.40
QF 2: Antoine Delpero (FRA) 17.10 def. Piccolo Clemente (PER) 14.36
QF 3: Adam Griffiths (GBR) 15.23 def. Edouard Delpero (FRA) 15.07
QF 4: Taylor Jensen (USA) 16.30 def. Cole Robbins (USA) 14.23

PNG World Longboard Championships Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Crystal Walsh (HAW) 16.37 def. Rachael Tilly (USA) 15.94
QF 2: Kaitlin Maguire (USA) 13.14 def. Chelsea Williams (AUS) 12.10
QF 3: Chloe Calmon (BRA) 16.07 def. Alice Lemoigne (REU) 13.17
QF 4: Honoula Blomfield (HAW) 16.93 def. Lindsay Steinriede (USA) 14.80

QUARTERFINALISTS DECIDED AT QUIKSILVER AND ROXY PRO GOLD COAST

QUARTERFINALISTS DECIDED AT QUIKSILVER AND ROXY PRO GOLD COAST

JEEP Rankings Leader and current World Champion John John Florence of Hawaii advanced to the Quarterfinals after winning Heat 2 of Round Four at the Quik Pro Gold Coast, Australia.

The stage is set for a thrilling final series at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast after a huge day of action that saw competition run through men’s Rounds 3, 4 and 5, and women’s Round 4 in three-to-five foot surf (1 – 1.5 metre) at Snapper Rocks. The world’s best surfers battled for their place in the Quarterfinals at the opening stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).

Reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) won his Round 4 heat to earn his place in the Quarterfinals and continue his run at Snapper Rocks. Florence took down 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Italo Ferreira (BRA) in Heat 2. The 24-year-old Champion has yet to drop a heat in this event and will work to best last year’s 5th place finish.

“The wind came up before that heat and was blowing into the wave faces which made it super tricky,” Florence said. “It’s really difficult to find those open faces and get the turns in that you want to. Non-elimination heats are always good, but making the Quarterfinals is a good feeling.”

Parkinson and Ferreira will both join Florence in the Quarterfinals after winning through their Round 5 heats. Ferreira eliminated Kolohe Andino (USA) while the 2012 World Champ got the better of 2015 WSL Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA) in an all-star Round 5 match-up. Parkinson looked unstoppable throughout the bout as he threw two excellent 8-point rides, forcing the Brazilian Champion into a combination situation and out of the contest.

“In these conditions wave selection is key,” Parkinson said. “It’s the worst wind for Snapper and you have to pick the eyes out of it. There’s only two or three good waves a heat and luckily I got two. Adriano [de Souza] is always a hard man to beat, however I’m stoked to make it.”

Owen Wright of Australia continues his winning comeback to Championship Tour compeition by eliminated close friend and team mate, 3X World Champion Mick Fanning in Heat 8 of Round Three at the Quik Pro Gold Coast, Australia.

Owen Wright (AUS) continued his incredible comeback from injury to full-time CT competition by eliminating close friend and teammate three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning (AUS) in an intense Round 3 battle. Both surfers put on an exciting show for the crowd as they opened up Heat 8 with competitive 7-point scores. Wright backed-up his total with an excellent 8.10, forcing Fanning to chase a 7.28. The two-time event winner fell just short on his attempt with a 7.10 and will be eliminated with an Equal 13th place finish.

Wright secured his place in the Quarterfinals after edging out Conner Coffin (USA) in Round 5 and will take on 2017 CT Rookie Connor O’Leary (AUS) when competition continues.

“I’ve had to surf in so many different conditions,” said Wright. “My first heat was emotional and it was huge to recover from that. I surfed three heats today and still feel like I could go again. I’m so stoked to be back amongst it competing and feeling good. It’s gone way better then what I could have planned.”

“It was bitter sweet,” Fanning said. “But to see Owen [Wright] in such great form is amazing. He’s been through so much and we never knew if he’d come back at all. He’s just blown our minds. Even though I lost, it felt like I won. I am extremely stoked for him.”

2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) also earned his place in the Quarterfinals after dominating Round 4 Heat 4 against 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Coffin. En route to his Quarterfinal placement, Medina looked in fine-form with an outstanding 19.00 heat total in Round 3 and a dominant 15.76 in Round 4.

“The knee felt really good,” Medina said. “This morning I felt a little sad because I thought my season was over, but once I was here the doctors took care of me. I want to thank the doctors for helping me. I’m so happy right now and I’m stoked to be in the Quarters. Hopefully the waves get a little better. It’s pretty tricky out there and on the backhand. My board feels really good and I’m stoked to get the win.”

With one last opportunity to make it into the Quarterfinals, Slater did not hold back against current World No. 2 Jordy Smith (ZAF). Slater showcased his variety in difficult conditions and was rewarded with two solid 7-point rides, beating Smith by 1.40 points. Slater will take on Medina in a Quarterfinal superheat when competition continues.

“I trust my surfing and actually relax the further I get in a contest,” Slater said. “Heading into the [Gabriel] Medina heat, if I could pace it the way I wanted, I would like to be ahead and let him sit with priority. I’m from Florida and the North East winds make it feel a little like Cocoa Beach. It’s great surfing against Jordy [Smith], he is my favorite surfer on tour, he has everything.”

Defending event winner Matt Wilkinson (AUS) secured his place in the Quarterfinals after defeating De Souza and 2016 event runner-up Andino in the opening heat of Round 4. The goofy-footer continued his tear with a strong 17.07 combined score. Andino was gunning for the heat win, but an interference call in the final minute disqualified the Californian’s second wave score. Wilkinson will face compatriot Parkinson in the opening heat of the Quarterfinals when competition resumes.

“It was always going to be a tough one as Adriano [de Souza] and Kolohe [Andino] are amazing surfers,” Wilkinson said. “I knew I had to pick the big waves and hit big sections but those bumps were super tricky. I feel confident moving into the quarters and as long as I connect turns I will get the scores.”

2017 CT Rookie Connor O’Leary (AUS) shocked the competition with his Round 4 win against top-seeds Smith and Wright. O’Leary is the last rookie standing in this event and will rematch with Wright in the Quarterfinals. O’Leary claimed his career-first Quarterfinal berth after dispatching World Title contender Julian Wilson (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 9.

“To get a win in Round 4 in my first year, I’m speechless,” O’Leary said. “In the last round I went over a wave and landed wrong. I came in and got some work done and it’s feeling okay. A rest this afternoon will be perfect before the Quarterfinals and I’m stoked to make it through.”

Rookies Frederico Morais (PRT) and Ian Gouveia (BRA) were not able to make it through to the next round after being eliminated by Slater and Medina, respectively.

The day concluded with elimination Round 4 of the Roxy Pro, where the women battled for a coveted spot in the Quarterfinals.

Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) will advance to the Quarterfinals after a nail-biting heat against current World No. 2 Courtney Conlogue (USA). Conlogue came out the gates swinging with a near-perfect 9.50 to put early pressure on the local favorite. Gilmore answered back with an excellent 8.00 demonstrating control over the challenging conditions. In a battle for the backup scores, Conlogue got an edge with a 6.83, forcing Gilmore to post an 8.34 or higher. With only seconds on the clock, Gilmore threw down one last attempt and was awarded an 8.40, giving her just enough to take the win. Conlogue leaves the event with an Equal 9th place finish.

“At the end of the day I basically gave myself one more chance,” Gilmore said. “Rainbow Bay’s had my back this whole event and I’m lucky it opened up on the inside. Everyone’s so stoked on the beach, it’s awesome. The support on the beach when I ran up made me feel like I won the contest. There were kids that ran the whole way with me —  it’s insane — and that’s why I love this place I call home.”

Sally Fitzgibbons of Australia advanced to the quarterfinals after winning Heat 3 of Round Four at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, Australia.

After losing out early in Round 2 of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast last season, veteran Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) flew through Round 4 to claim her place in the Quarterfinals. 2017 CT Rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS) put up a strong fight against Fitzgibbons with powerful backhand snaps, but could not meet the requirement to advance.

“I’m still picking the sand out of my ears,” Fitzgibbon said. “There was a lot going on and it was really just you and the ocean. I haven’t actually surfed Snapper that big for a long time and I’m going to make some equipment adjustments tomorrow. It’s been an amazing atmosphere all day and I’ve been enjoying the energy. I love starting here in Australia.”

Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) took early control of her heat against Lakey Peterson (USA) with an excellent 8.17, but did not lock in the backup score needed to secure her lead. With time winding down, Peterson fired back with a strong 7.93 to gain the lead. In need of a 5.26, Weston-Webb had one last opportunity to combat the Californian but fell just short with a 5.00. Weston-Webb will be eliminated in 9th place, her worst result at this event.

“I heard a horn blow but thought it was the one to end the previous heat,” Peterson said. “I was pretty frustrated as I blew a perfect set and Tatiana wasn’t even out the back. You can’t control what anyone else does so you just have to be positive and content with your surfing. It’s tricky conditions so you have to learn to surf it all and I think that’s why champions are champions. Again stoked to be here the crowds awesome and it’s so beautiful.”

Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) will also advance through to the next round after taking out Coco Ho (HAW)in Heat 1. Van Dijk exhibited great speed through the wind-chop to earn a 15.67 combined wave score. Ho, who fell short with a 14.94, will be eliminated from the event.

“I’m really used to windy, raw conditions back home in Victoria,” Van Dijk said. “I felt right at home, but I couldn’t hear a thing with the wind. I didn’t know what my scoring waves were. I made a decision to take out a thicker board and it worked really well. I’m excited heading into finals day.”

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. local time to assess the conditions and make the next call.

Surfline, official forecast for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro, are calling for:

The interaction between high pressure over New Zealand and a trough of low pressure east of the Gold Coast has set up the start of a prolonged run of trade windswell/swell that will continue through early next week. Trend to ENE to NE winds expected for Sunday/Monday.

For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 3 Results (1st to R4, 2nd = 13th):
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.10 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 15.00
Heat 9: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 14.93 def. Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.70
Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.90 def. Frederico Morais (PRT) 11.17
Heat 11: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.33 def. Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.20
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 19.00 def. Ian Gouveia (BRA) 14.56

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 4 Results (1st to QF, 2nd & 3rd to R5):
Heat 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 17.07, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.97, Kolohe Andino (USA) 8.30
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 14.17, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.10, John John Florence (HAW) 9.73
Heat 3: Connor O’Leary (AUS) 10.77, Owen Wright (AUS) 10.66, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9.77
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.76, Kelly Slater (USA) 12.07, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.17

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 5 Results (1st to QF, 2nd = 9th):
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.23 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.43
Heat 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.80 def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.56
Heat 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 14.76 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 14.17
Heat 4: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.70 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.30

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Quarterfinal Match-Ups (1st to SF, 2nd = 5th):
QF 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Joel Parkinson (AUS)
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Italo Ferreira (BRA)
QF 3: Connor O’Leary (AUS) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
QF 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 4 Results (1st to QF, 2nd = 9th):
Heat 1: 
Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 15.67 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 14.94
Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.43 def. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 13.17
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.50 def. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 11.83
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.40 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.33

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Quarterfinal Match-Ups (1st to SF, 2nd = 5th):
QF 1: 
Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
QF 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
QF 3: Keely Andrew (AUS) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
QF 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)