There were some real moments of brilliance over the past week on the Gold Coast. On the men’s side, the combination of a hungry field of young talent, the rampy backup venue of D-Bah and the new overlapping heat format meant that, for once, surf fans were thoroughly captivated for most of the competition, as non-stop action delivered some of the most progressive surfing we’ve ever seen at this event. The Quik Pro would have been an unambiguously successful season opener had it not been for a single score in the final heat of the event: a 7.07 bestowed upon Italo Ferreira in the dying seconds against Kolohe Andino.
So how did it happen, exactly? Well, by the time the final rolled around, the idyllic A-frames that littered Duranbah earlier in the waiting period had been replaced by what looked like a gutless, onshore day at Huntington Beach. But between Kolohe and Italo, you’d be hard pressed to find two surfers in the world more capable of forcing a score in those conditions. In fact, in their first exchange in the final, Kolohe managed to work something only vaguely wave-like through to the inside and punctuate it with an air reverse, while Italo blew the tail out for a reverse on similarly dribbly right hander seconds later. Even the most-knowledgable pundits in surfing would have probably flipped a coin if asked who’d come out of the final on top, but by the time the clock ticked down to the 11-minute mark, and Kolohe lofted a stylish, tail-high air reverse–what was easily the biggest single maneuver of the heat so far–for a 6.50, it seemed that he truly had it in the bag. But then, around the 2-minute mark, Italo stood up on a tiny runner, pumped a few times down the line, and clicked a full rotation mere inches above the lip (click here for the heat analyzer, since you’re going to want to watch both waves a dozen or so times–and, yes, please feel free to give us your thoughts in the comment section below). It wasn’t nearly as high as Kolohe’s aerial, but it was a higher degree of rotation. The score? A 7.07. Enough to beat Kolohe by just 0.14 and spark a social media firestorm in the process.
On the women’s side, the final was a much more straightforward affair. The 17-year-old wunderkind Caroline Marks and the three-time World Champ Carissa Moore had been absolutely slaying it on opposite sides of the draw all event, and after Lakey Peterson fell in Round 3 and Steph Gilmore in the quarters, it almost didn’t matter who else was in the event–it seemed like it was always going to come down to Caroline and Carissa. In the final, which featured rather grovely conditions, both surfers stayed busy, hunting down blustery peaks, trying to manufacture something in the meager surf. But it was Caroline who managed to make to find the best rights of the heat, and she snapped into the same rhythm of breakneck bottom turns followed by crisp snaps at the lip. Carissa couldn’t seem to find her groove the entire heat, and by final buzzer, Caroline had earned her first-ever World Tour victory (undoubtedly there will be many, many more of those).
So what did you think of the Quik and Boost Mobile Pros? Chime in with your thoughts on the scoring, format changes, etc. in the comment section below. And stay tuned for a full wrap up of the events from our World Tour correspondent Sean Doherty shortly.