The 2017 Women’s ‘CT kicked off yesterday at Snapper Rocks. The field progressed through five heats before the round was cut short by Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer because of pesky bluebottle jellyfish causing a nuisance. Here are the top three headlines from opening day, snack-sized, in three minutes.
1. Storms And Stingers
Onshores and rain showers made for a rolling windswell-y lineup, and the aforementioned jellyfish caused minor hell by stinging the competitors: Laura Enever left the water with ten minutes to go in her heat with what was thought to be an allergic reaction after repeated stings. Enever, Carissa Moore, Courtney Conlogue, and others who were also stung had the added distraction of evading the jellyfish while trying to find decent sets in the subpar conditions.
2. Nikki Van Dijk Strikes Early, Scores 8.83
Coming off three top-five performances at Fiji, Trestles, and France last year, Victoria’s Nikki Van Dijk made a memorable Gold Coast debut by linking a clean series of forehand carves and jams, scoring an early 8.83, the day’s highest. “She’s that close,” said Pete Mel on the WSL broadcast. “Her surfing has been there the whole time, but stringing together solid heats all the way through from buzzer to buzzer has been her achilles heel. She’s been starting off great in heats…When she puts together that good first wave, to set that momentum and rhythm, it pays off all the way through the entire event.” After painfully close losses to Stephanie Gilmore at Snapper and Tyler Wright at Bells last year, Van Dijk will aim to finish strong in the later heats.
3. Fitzgibbons, Weston-Webb, Conlogue, and Moore Advance
With the exception of world champion Tyler Wright’s detour to Round Two, there were no upsets on opening day, and the Tour’s big names earned trips straight into Round Three. Sally Fitzgibbons delivered a come-from-behind win with less than ten minutes to go in her heat against Johanne Defay and Keely Andrew, Weston-Webb looked sharp on her backhand, and Conlogue and Moore battled through the floating jellies to send flurries of snaps. The last heat of Round One will be one to watch, as event favorite Stephanie Gilmore, Australian Open-winner Malia Manuel, and a healthy Lakey Peterson will square off.
To watch the event, head to the World Surf League website.