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.”
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)
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
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.
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)
Johanne Defay of France placed first in Heat 1 of Round Three at the Roxy Pro, Gold Coast, Australia.
The first stop of the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast, continued today in three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) conditions at Snapper Rocks. The Quiksilver Pro saw big names drop out of the event as competition ran through elimination Round 2 and the first seven heats of Round 3, while the women went all-out in non-elimination Round 3 to secure a place in the Quarterfinals of the Roxy Pro.
2016 WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) will continue her hunt for back-to-back event wins after defeating Lakey Peterson (USA) and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 2. Wright unleashed powerful rail-carves to earn a near-perfect 9.00 and 7.93. Peterson challenged the Jeep Frontrunner with an excellent 9.00 and 7.00, but fell just 0.93 points short of the win. Wright will advance straight to the Quarterfinals, while Peterson and Van Dijk battle to avoid elimination in Round 4.
“The conditions are really good out there, and I had to be super critical when catching waves,” Wright said. “I was pretty much looking for perfection. I didn’t get that from my 7s, but then I got that 9, and it wasn’t anything special. It was just simple, clean and concise surfing. Before the Quarterfinals, I really just need to reassess the conditions. The plan is always pretty similar, which is basically prioritizing what I need to work on, and when I get up on the wave to do what I know I’m capable of.”
Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) met three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and 2017 CT Rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 4. The superheat witnessed Gilmore fire on her opening ride with a double-barrel for a near-perfect 9.17. Moore fought back with an 8.17, but Gilmore found a solid ride to earn a 7.37 and the lead. Needing an 8.38 in the dying seconds of the heat, Moore pulled off the requirement by 0.20 for an excellent 8.53 and a place in the Quarterfinals.
“I just went into that wave thinking that I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Moore. “I knew that last wave was my last opportunity of the heat and I gave it everything I had. I’m so stoked with the outcome. It’s always so tough when you’re competitor opens up with a high score, especially when that person is Stephanie Gilmore. I wasn’t too nervous when the scores were coming in. I knew I surfed my best and Steph surfed her best.”
2016 WSL Rookie of the Year Keely Andrew (AUS) shook up the competition with a big win over World Title contenders Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS). Andrew earned her Quarterfinal berth, her best result on the Gold Coast, with a 14.77 combined score, edging out Fitzgibbons by only 0.23 and Conlogue by 1.24. Conlogue and Fitzgibbons will battle in Round 4 to secure a solid start to their seasons.
“I might need to ask the judges for another heat because the waves are unreal,” Andrew said. “Being in the company of Courtney [Conlogue] and Sally [Fitzgibbons] was pretty special and coming out on top was even better. Getting that win will definitely mean a lot for me and my confidence going forward even though I had a bit of a slow start in those first few rounds. I’ve noticed my best attribute is speed and I just need to combine that with the power. I think that combination will mean my surfing will flow better and the judges will reward those factors.”
The opening heat of Round 3 saw a close battle between Johanne Defay (FRA), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and Coco Ho (HAW). All three competitors exchanged control as each posted excellent-range scores, including a near-perfect 9.83 from Ho. Current World No. 5 Defay earned yet another buzzer-beater win with an excellent 8.70 to supplement her 8.50 back-up score. Although Ho and Weston-Webb showcased incredible surfing, they will be relegated to elimination Round 4.
“It was a very tough heat because Tatiana [Weston-Webb] and Coco [Ho] had great scores,” said Defay. “It fired me up knowing Coco dropped that huge 9-point ride. I went out there and focused on the quality of my maneuvres rather than the quantity. I’ve been working on developing my surfing. It is coming along and is starting show.”
The Quiksilver Pro kicked off the day with big eliminations in Round 2, along the first seven heats of Round 3 following the women’s event. The World Champions continued to reign supreme with Round 3 wins from John John Florence (HAW), Adriano de Souza (BRA) and Joel Parkinson (AUS).
In Heat 6, Florence was quick to post a 7.57, but it was wildcard Mikey Wright (AUS) who took control with an excellent 8.50. Florence threw out multiple attempts to combat Wright, but struggled to find critical 6.61 score needed. Without priority, Florence snuck into a solid wave to showcase his powerful snaps and technical barrel riding for a 7.90 to advance him to the next round.
“Mikey Wright is such a gnarly competitor especially in waves like these,” Florence said. “I just heard everyone screaming after his wave and thought, ‘Oh no, what did he do?’ That wave I got was smaller, which is why Mikey didn’t take it knowing there was time left. It had a nice long wall, so I got to surf the whole way through and had a few barrels. It was a pretty nerve-racking heat. I am stoked to get through that.”
“Obviously John John [Florence] is amazing so it was always going to be tough,” Wright said. “It was pretty cool having a heat with him in such pumping waves. I was good to get that one at the start, but unfortunately I couldn’t find a second. This has me fired up to get busy on the QS and qualify next year, and if not next year, I will keep going until I do.”
2015 WSL Champion De Souza had his work cut out for him when he came up against Snapper standout Stuart Kennedy (AUS) in Heat 2 of Round 3. Kennedy looked in good touch in earlier rounds but was unable to fire in the his Round 3 match-up. De Souza took the heat win with a two wave total of 14.93 and progresses into Round 4.
“Snapper is such a special place for me,” De Souza said. “After I won the title at Narrabeen, I came here to surf so I have a good relationship it and so many memories. Coming up against Stuart Kennedy was crazy. He is an animal in competition and it was a great battle. The Brazilian crowd that follows me here are amazing support. I’m very lucky.”
2012 World Champion Parkinson used his intimate knowledge of the Snapper line-up to take out his Round 3 match up with Miguel Pupo (BRA). Pupo’s back-hand was on point, but it was Parkinson’s smooth arcs and long tube rides that earned him the winning total of 17.24.
“Round 3 can sometimes be a stumbling block for me, but I came out of the gates well,” Parkinson said. “I played the heat as I saw it. After the weird rain, things started flowing. Snapper and I have a mutual relationship. I definitely love surfing here and it’s proved to love me back. Going into Round 4, I feel the pressure is off and I just want to win my heats.”
Defending event winner Matt Wilkinson (AUS) unleashed his lethal backhand snaps to earn a 15.10 combined score and eliminate CT veteran Jeremy Flores (FRA). Wilkinson kicked off the heat with a strong 7.17 and secured his win on his last wave with a 7.93. Flores, who previously knocked out Adrian Buchan (AUS) in Round 2, will leave the Quiksilver Pro will end with a 13th place finish.
“Starting with a higher score sets you up for the rest of the heat,” Wilkinson said. “Before the event, I thought I was going to absolutely blow it and I was pretty wound up. All the pressure fell off when I went out there. It’s good fun to surf this wave with no one out there. Making it past the third round is already a great result, but I’m not done.”
Round 3 Heat 5 saw an all-Brazilian battle between Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Caio Ibelli (BRA). Ferreira wasted no time to put a near-perfect 9.77 on the board, but needed to post a competitive backup score to fend off Ibelli, whose deep tube ride put him back in the game with a 7.50. Despite beating the buzzer by a microsecond, Ibelli was not able to meet the requirement and will be eliminated from the contest. Ibelli previously dispatched rookie Joan Duru (FRA) in Round 2 Heat 8.
Rookie Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) will not advance as he was eliminated by Ferreira in Round 2 Heat 7. Ferreira blazed through the heat with a Perfect 10, his career-first on the CT, and a solid 7.83 to put the Italian charger in a combination situation, forcing him to turn in two new scores. Fioravanti was not able to answer back and will finish his first event of his rookie season with a 25th place finish.
“I got a few really good waves to start of the heat and I just really tried to do my best and improve with each wave,” said Ferreira. “That 10 is probably the best wave of my life and definitely helps my confidence. It’s fun to mix it up and try new things in heats and it’s awesome when that leads to a perfect 10 in a CT heat.”
2016 Quiksilver Pro runner-up Kolohe Andino (USA) will move through to the next round after defeating Jadson Andre (BRA) in Round 3 Heat 1. Andre will walk away with a 13th place finish.
“I am stoked to make it through that heat as Jadson [Andre] is a fiery competitor,” Andino said. “The swell started to die down in the women’s heats, so it was pretty slow out there. I knew I had to pick the waves with a wall. Although the swell is dropping, it’s still perfect.”
The day also witnessed the members of the rookie class bounce back after yesterday’s Round 1 losses with big wins from Ezekiel Lau (HAW), Ian Gouveia (BRA), and Connor O’Leary (AUS).
Despite being eliminated by Current World No. 2 Jordy Smith (ZAF) in Round 3 Heat 7, Lau showcased impressive performances today with his Perfect 10 in Round 3 and massive elimination of 2017 World Title contender Filipe Toledo (BRA) in the opening heat Round 2. Toledo, who was a favorite to win this event after his victory in 2015, will leave the competition with an Equal 25th place finish.
“Zeke [Ezekiel Lau] is such an incredible competitor, one of the strongest on tour,” Smith said. “To be honest those heats are exactly why we do this tour. In the arena going neck and neck, wave for wave. That for me is the pinnacle. I guarantee any other heat [for Zeke] and he would have won. That’s exactly why we train physically and mentally. I want to dig deep, gain momentum, get the tail and start swiveling.”
“It feels so great to get my first CT heat win,” Lau said after defeating Toledo. “I was a little nervous at the end, but those are the moments I live for. The first thing going through my head was the question of whether I should I have taken the wave that Filipe [Toledo] was on or if should I have left it. Jack [Freestone] was paddling out for his heat after us and told me he could have flung an aerial, but there was nothing I could do except get a better wave than him.”
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:
E trade windswell/swell holds in the head/overhead range. AM light S to calm winds. Easterly breezes settling in through midday but should stay pretty light. Cloudy with showers likely. Winds may vary at times around passing local weather features.
The interaction between high pressure over New Zealand and a trough 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. Local winds look good into Saturday but may vary at times around passing local weather features. Watching winds in the longer range. Trend to ENE to NE winds expected for Sunday/Monday.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.87 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.84 Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 14.93 def. Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 12.07 Heat 3: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.10 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.60 Heat 4: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.24 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.54 Heat 5: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.60 def. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 13.27 Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 15.47 def. Mikey Wright (AUS) 14.17 Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.30 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 17.00
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Remaining Round 3 Match-Ups:
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS) Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Connor O’Leary (AUS) Heat 10: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Frederico Morais (PRT) Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Conner Coffin (USA) Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Good news for fans of high performance surfing this morning with the welcome news that Mick Fanning is returning to fray, after a year scoring epic free surfs, and Owen Wright has accepted the injury wildcard to return after the long recovery from his head injury.
Full releases below. The Quik Pro on the Goldie will see them both don the jersey from March 14…
Mick Fanning (AUS), 3x World Surf League (WSL) Champion, today announced his return to full-time competition on the elite WSL Championship Tour.
“I’ve decided to come back to competition full time and do the Tour this season,” Fanning said. “It was nice to have 2016 off somewhat and decompress, but I’m excited to put the singlet on again.”
The iconic Australian stepped back from full-time competition last year following a 2015 season that witnessed the world-famous shark attack at the J-Bay Open, the loss of his older brother Peter and an emotional Runner-Up finish to the title race.
“2015 was a tough year,” Fanning said. “A lot happened to me on camera and in my personal life. I just felt exhausted by the end of it. Fortunately, I was in a position to step away from the Tour and have some time to myself. I ended up doing a few events and qualifying which was great because I didn’t want to take the wildcard off of Bede (Durbidge) or Owen (Wright). I’m coming into 2017 seeded 18th which will be a change for me.”
The decision to return to the tour in 2017 wasn’t one that Fanning took lightly, but the caliber of of surfers taking part on the Championship Tour this season proved motivation enough.
“Even with the 2017 season looming, I wasn’t sure I was motivated enough to take part,” Fanning said. “However, like everyone else I’m getting super excited about this year’s line-up of surfers – it might be the best field from the top seed to number 34 we’ve ever had. I also think it’s the biggest group of legit title contenders we’ve ever seen on the tour ever and I want to be part of the race.”
With 22 elite CT wins to his name and three WSL Titles, Fanning is one of the most accomplished surfers to ever grace the sport, but the lightning-fast natural-footer believes he has more to accomplish.
“The most important thing to me is to me is making sure my surfing keeps evolving and the tour, now more than ever, is the best place to do that.” Fanning said. “In recent years I managed to find good balance between competitive focus and having fun. Getting switched on for events this year will be the key for me. I don’t think it will be a problem. It’s not in my nature to be half-hearted so now that I’m committed I’ll be doing everything I can to get a win.”
Kelly Slater (USA), 11x WSL Champion, has already confirmed his own commitment to chasing an unprecedented 12th Title in 2017 and considers Fanning a major threat.
“If Mick (Fanning) is in 100% I’d put him right at the top of the heap,” Slater said. “You’d be silly to not think Mick is Top 3 in the world right now. All things considered. Having won at so many different breaks and being so dominant at places like Bells and Jeffreys Bay, there’s no way he’s not a contender.”
Owen Wright (AUS) has confirmed that he will accept the wildcard for the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), following a year-long absence from competition after suffering a serious head injury whilst surfing Pipeline, on Oahu’s North Shore, in December 2015.
“I’m so thankful for the support of my friends and family, my sponsors, the WSL and all the people in the community who sent positive thoughts to me throughout my recovery,” Wright said. “I’m feeling stronger every day and I’m very much looking forward to returning to the Tour and further honing my fitness and surfing throughout the 2017 season.”
Wright, who finished the 2015 CT season at No. 5 on the Jeep Leaderboard, made his return to competitive surfing last month at the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro QS 6,000 and will rejoin the world’s best at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast, which gets underway on March 14th, 2017. Wright will face Sebastian Zietz (HAW) and Ethan Ewing (AUS) in Round 1 of competition.
“Owen Wright is one of the most electric and powerful surfers to ever grace the tour,” Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, said. “Following his injury in December of 2015, the WSL’s priority was Owen’s well-being and, if he were to return to competition, a healthy return to the sport. After assessing his performance and health after a QS event earlier in the season, Owen has accepted the WSL Wildcard for the 2017 season. We’re happy to have him back.”
Wright’s younger sister, Tyler Wright (AUS), enters the 2017 season as the reigning WSL Women’s Champion and Wright’s younger brother Mikey Wright (AUS) has been awarded a wildcard into the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast for the second year running.
The remaining men’s wildcard and the women’s wildcard will be decided by a trials event on Monday, March 13th.
This season’s Championship Tour lineup sees an unprecedented number of men’s and women’s WSL Champions in the competitive field: Kelly Slater (USA), Mick Fanning (AUS), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Adriano de Souza (BRA) and John John Florence (HAW) on the men’s side and Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Carissa Moore (HAW) and Tyler Wright (AUS) on the women’s side.
It is with great pleasure that Rip Curl announces the addition of USA’s Conner Coffin to their elite team, competing on the Top-34 WSL World Tour and travelling the globe on The Search.
“I’m so grateful to have this opportunity with Rip Curl,” says Conner. “To be a part of a brand that has stayed so true to surfing over the decades is awesome. I think we have similar goals, and I’m so excited to have their support on the Tour at this stage in my career. It’s a great crew, and going on Search trips with some of my favourite surfers doesn’t sound too bad either…”
Born and raised in Santa Barbara, California, Conner has spent years racing down the line at Rincon, honing his skills and preparing to reach his dream of competing on the World Tour. In 2016 that dream came true, and Conner finished a stunning rookie year sitting at 17th in the rankings.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve had a strong American surfer on our elite team, and it seems about time,” says Neil Ridgway, Rip Curl’s Chief Brand and Marketing Officer. “Conner is a great fit on the team, is a highly talented surfer, and we think he truly brings something unique to surfing and the World Tour. He’ll go a long way with the support from our crew, and we can’t wait to see the results.”
Dylan Slater, SVP of Sales/Marketing at Rip Curl USA, also agrees with this sentiment. “Conner not only has world-class surfing ability, but he’s also a world-class human. He adds a lot to our team, and I know we will achieve a lot together in this new chapter.”
Conner is looking forward to the start of the competitive season as a new member of the Rip Curl crew. “I’m fired up right now, and I want to stay that way. I feel like I learned a lot my first year on tour, and from here, it’s just trying to keep stepping it up with each event. I’d be really stoked to finish 2017 in the top 10.
“And now, being a part of Rip Curl, I have something else to look forward to – The Search. When I first started surfing, the first movie I ever had was the Searching for Tom Curren series. I grew up watching those over and over and over. That’s where I learned to bottom turn, and it’s where I fell in love with surfing. That aspect of The Search really grabbed me as a kid, and Tom is still one of my favourite surfers. Having the opportunity to be a part of all that is just so insane.
“I think that what’s so intriguing about the Search is that Rip Curl goes out and finds places that I’ve never heard of, that I didn’t even think would have waves – and the waves there are better than I could even imagine. So hopefully I end up in the middle of nowhere, getting barrelled for a really long time. That’s the dream.”
Welcome to the team, Conner – we can’t wait to see where this relationship will take you!