GOLD COAST, Queensland/Australia (Saturday, February 26, 2011) - The 2011 ASP World Title season commenced today with the world's best surfers battling one another in rippable two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves at the primary venue of Snapper Rocks for Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover.
With little swell projected for the coming week, event organizers opted to make the most of what was on offer today, completing Round 1 of both the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast. With Snapper Rocks offering up barrels and air sections on offer throughout the day, the capacity crowd on the beach and watching online were treated to some impressive opening day action.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, defending Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner, has had another banner start in 2011, defending his title up the road at the ASP 4-Star in Burleigh Heads last week before setting the pace as the form surfer of Round 1 today at Snapper Rocks. Burrow's combination of impressive tube-riding and high-performance netted him the highest heat total of the day, a 16.67 out of a possible 20, to best American opponents Bobby Martinez (USA), 28, and Cory Lopez (USA), 33.
"I feel good now that it's over and done with," Burrow said. "I was still a little nervous even though I got the win last week at Burleigh because this is the big event. It's the first one of the year with the points and ratings and everything up for grabs and it's the one you want to do well in, but I was just the right amount of nervous I guess. I kind of shook off the nerves once I got that first one (the 9.27), everyone loves to start a heat off like that."
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, 2010 ASP World Runner-Up, has returned to Australia following an off-season spent in his native South Africa, and the well-built natural-footer continued to shine amongst the world's best. Smith blitzed opponents Patrick Gudauskas (USA), 25, and Mitch Crews (AUS), 20, with unmatched power and aerial prowess.
"I'm super excited about the new season," Smith said. "I just had a good start. I spent Christmas at home with my family, it was the first time I've been able to do that in 10 years and now it's good to be on the Gold Coast, stoked. I haven't made any drastic changes this year, but I'm riding everything now and got a couple of good boards from Al (Merrick) and some DHDs, I'm just sticking with that."
Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, former two-time ASP World Champion, secured the day's highest single-wave score, a 9.33 out of a possible 10, for a Houdini-esque barrel and some unbridled power surfing.
"I'm pretty stoked I got that one good wave at the start and that settled the nerves," Fanning said. "It was really slow and really wobbly out there. There wasn't really any wind, so I'm just pretty stoked to feel one out and make it through that first heat."
A past two-time winner of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (2005, 2007), Fanning leads an incredibly deep local talent pool as the contest the best in the world.
"Competing at home adds to the nerves because you know the wave so well and spend so much time out there and ask yourself 'am I at my best or not?" Fanning said. "Over the years I've gotten used to it, but the first few years there were definitely lots of nerves out here at home."
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, remained calculated in dealing with the day's deteriorating conditions. The Floridian scrapped past wildcard Matt Banting (AUS), 16, and Kai Otton (AUS), 31, to advance directly to Round 3 of competition.
"I don't really approach heats with wildcards differently," Slater said. "My game plan stays the same. There are heats where you know you have to let loose, but today was more focusing on getting the good waves and completing them. It's not exceptional out there, so if you find a clean face and get a few good carves, you'll probably get the highest score of the heat. I was just trying to find the clean ones."
Julian Wilson (AUS), 22, 2011 ASP Top 34 rookie, opened up his maiden event as a full-fledged member of the ASP top 34 this morning in sterling fashion, overcoming the goofy-footed onslaught of veterans Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, and Heitor Alves (BRA), 28, to advance directly to Round 3.
"Maybe I was a little more nervous this year than in previous years as a wildcard," Wilson said. "This is my favorite event of the year and to win Round 1 takes some of the pressure off. I'd like to try and get a good result, my best result is Round 4 in this event so I'd like to try and go better this year."
The ASP Top 17 took to the lineup following men's competition for Round 1 of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover.
With one of the most impressive assemblies of female surfing talent in the sport's history comprising the event's field, it was youngster Tyler Wright (AUS), 16, who fired the first shots of the season across the bow, besting reigning four-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), 23, in their Round 1 bout.
"I kind of just did my own thing out there and knew which waves were going to be the best," Wright said. "Steph (Gilmore) has been out of the water for ages and had a lot on her plate lately. Owen (Wright) gave me some moral support and watching him this morning I kind of just learned from what he did. I have my whole family down here which is nice and the whole vibe is just good. I love this place."
With her day's high heat total of a 17.96 out of a possible 20, Wright advanced directly to Round 3 of women's competition while Gilmore (under the new ASP Women's World Title competition format) has been relegated to the elimination Round 2.
Other Roxy Pro Round 1 standouts included Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 20, Coco Ho (HAW), 19, Silvana Lima (BRA), 26, Carissa Moore (HAW), 18, and Jacqueline Silva (BRA), 31.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Bede Durbidge (AUS), 28, up against wildcard Matt Banting (AUS), 16, in the opening men's heat of Round 2 and Rebecca Woods (AUS), 26, battling Courtney Conlogue (AUS), 18, in the opening women's heat of Round 2.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.26, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.44, Heitor Alves (BRA) 6.57
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.67, Gabe Kling (USA) 12.27, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.03
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.03, Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.57, Cory Lopez (USA) 7.90
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.67, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 9.17, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.10
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.07, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 10.37, Mitch Crews (AUS) 11.07
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.93, Matt Banting (AUS) 11.34, Kai Otton (AUS) 6.70
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.83, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.46, Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.60
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.70, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 9.87, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.77
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00, Adriano de Souza (BRA), Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.20
Heat 10: Daniel Ross (AUS), 13.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.10, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 7.43
Heat 11: Adam Melling (AUS) 11.40, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.13, Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.73
Heat 12: Tiago Pires (PRT) 15.83, Jadson Andre (BRA)12.70, Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.77
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Mitch Crews (AUS)
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Marc Lacomare (FRA)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 5: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 6: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 9: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 10: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 12: Heitor Alves (BRA) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 13.37, Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.00, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.86
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.10, Pauline Ado (FRA) 13.83, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.30
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.96, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.26, Sarah Mason (NZL) 6.36
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.03, Laura Enever (AUS) 11.83, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 10.36
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.00, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 7.43, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 6.84
Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.66, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.80, Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 8.16
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Rebecca Woods (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 2: Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Sarah Mason (NZL)
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) vs. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)
Heat 5: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 6: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)