The Gold Coast has been true to its name lately, at least as far as waves are concerned. Cyclone Ola, Cyclone Marcia and Cyclone Quit Your Job Right Now And Go Surfing all pelted the region with oceanic energy. The kind of swell you remember and the kind of waves that, if you’re extraordinarily emotional, might just make you sob a happy tear — that golden. But that was yesterday and this is today. And today, we saw none of that. But we did see Day 1 of the 2015 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.
The first ever WSL WCT event got started at Snapper Rocks, and that’s enough acronyms for today. The waves were fun — not quite tear evoking — and doesn’t it feel nice to be back in Australia? This place was initially the land of convicts and therefore it became a land of new beginnings. The mood of the event felt more relaxed than last year. There were no World Titles to be implied, no career-shattering descents from the tour looming, no growing pains of a new system to be dealt with. I even spoke with one of the webcast producers who, with a face full of smile, boasted about a lack of glitches on the backend. It was a fine day. And we should probably talk about the surfing.
No ground was broken today. The earth wasn’t shattered and the Internet stayed far from flames. In waves of this size and stature, even this level of surfing can come off as formulaic. Frontside, it looked like foam climb, fin throw, roundhouse and occasional air reverse — something that John John Florence, Jordy Smith, Matt Banting, Julian Wilson and Dusty Payne all excelled at. Backside, it looked like a very stern unleashing of hell — which Freddy P, Nat Young and Gabriel Medina had no problem with.
Speaking of Gabe. He’s defending the championship of both this event and of the world. And, apparently, the best defense is a good offense — those 18.30 points were the days highest. His family is here with him, as his extended family (a hundred or so staunch Brazilian surf fans, all screaming his name and willing to kill or die for a selfie with the young king). So, yeah, no Super Bowl slump here. And it could be an interesting year of sparring with his less tan contemporary named John, who is pegged as the odds-on favorite to win the Title this year according to the Australian sportsbook. JJF already has a head start in the race to become the world champion of Instagram.
Pretty sweet, right? As the day progressed, the wind started breathing and brought a little crumble to the lip. Roxy Pro started up as the Quik Pro said goodbye to Round 1. The most notable occurrence was Silvana Lima’s return to tour with much fire — she’s this year’s female equivalent to Dusty, only less bearded. At 30-years-old, Silvana is the oldest woman on tour but those 18.16 reeked of the joviality of youth or at least a few energized turns. It’s nice to have you back, love.
And then the sun went down and the people went away. More likely than not, the contest will be off tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day, until a new swell fills in mid next week. It’s not expected to be as a giving as Marcia, but there will be winners and losers and airs and entertainment and eventually, a champion. What’s a cyclone swell got on that? —Brendan “Fat Guy Trying Shuv-Its At D-Bah” Buckley
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.16, Brett Simpson (USA) 11.87, Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.00
Heat 2: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.60, Michel Bourez (PYF) 14.44, Ricardo Christie (NZL) 8.94
Heat 3: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 17.06, Kelly Slater (USA) 14.43, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.50
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW) 16.80, Glenn Hall (IRL) 12.84, Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.57
Heat 5: Matt Banting (AUS) 17.76, Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.06, Jack Freestone (AUS) 15.83
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 18.30, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 16.93, Dane Reynolds (USA) 8.27
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.14, Kai Otton (AUS) 15.03, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.67
Heat 8: Dusty Payne (HAW) 16.34, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.53, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 11.66
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 17.19, Taj Burrow (AUS) 15.80, Keanu Asing (HAW) 12.43
Heat 10: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.44, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.44, Josh Kerr (AUS) 4.10
Heat 11: Julian Wilson (AUS) 15.43, Italo Ferreira (BRA) 14.97, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.43
Heat 12: Nat Young (USA) 15.80, Adam Melling (AUS) 10.30, Owen Wright (AUS) 9.10
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 13.80, Sage Erickson (USA) 13.33, Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.03
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.56, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.30, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 12.50
Heat 3: Silvana Lima (BRA) 18.16, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.00, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 9.73
Heat 4: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 11.76, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.26, Tyler Wright (AUS) 6.97
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.00, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 14.86, Laura Enever (AUS) 12.00
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.40, Coco Ho (HAW) 14.13, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.63