2009 Roxy Pro Gold Coast: Day 2

Stephanie Gilmore

Conditions: Small and glassy in the morning, less small and less glassy later on
Events Held: Roxy Pro, Round 2 through the Quarterfinals
Nature's Call: It's been a hell week, can I make it up to you Saturday?
Predictions: If you can't throw tail, don't f--kin' come!

Bless the announcers at the Roxy Pro, for really giving their all to the task of surf contest embellishment -

On non-competitors surfing too close to the main event: "You in the water, move north! DO NOT GO LEFT...and he went left. [Non-competitor falls] And OOWWW, there's a workout for the crowd! Guy who can't surf goes left and really makes a fool of himself in front of the whole beach!"

On bodyboarding: "Bodyboarder near the south wall, please return to the beach. We won't be running all day, so you will get the arvo session, but in the meantime, why don't you come in and learn to stand up."

On women's athletics in general: "The girls are pretty open about discussing their equipment with each other up here in the competitors' area, which is a unique thing about surfing. You wouldn't expect to see that between Venus Williams and, uh...[.........]"

And finally: "Don't be afraid to give a little hoot if you see some surfing you like," one MC begged to an indifferent morning crowd of Roxy Pro spectators. This year's ASP tour on the women's side is like a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans: a random sample might be delicious, or you might get one that tastes mildly like grass. Thus the average surf fan could be forgiven for not screaming about some of the rides out at Duranbah's middle peak this AM, as a few surfers turned in performances that belonged, frankly, in 2007 - distinctly grass flavored.

But turn your back for one second on the girls and you could miss a Campaign-quality clip from any of a number of young ladies (the first Campaign, probably a middle section, but still). The baby faces on tour are particularly a breath of fresh air - or hot fire, if you happen to be surfing against one of them and can't match the flare. Rookies Sally Fitzgibbons (who chose a pro career over the 2012 Olympiad), Paige Hareb and Coco Ho are sure to keep their more experienced peers honest this year in the field of progressive surfing.

Still, today wasn't all about the first timers. The beach perked up for a quarterfinal clash between unsponsored mom Chelsea Hedges and defending world champ Stephanie Gilmore. Chelsea has a low-down bottom turn and a super-relaxed upper body that's so trademark Hobbity, she could be a taller third sibling to the twins. Interesting coincidence she shares initials, not just style, with Clifton Hobgood... But, too bad for Chels, Stephanie shares initials (and style, and speed, and sponsors) with Smick Gfanning. She relied on a huge full-face slice, shoulder dropped and hand dragging just like Eugene, and covered the whole length of D-Bah with smoothly linked hucks. Meanwhile, her grass-flavored competitors looked for one or two turns per wave; the line between old guard and new is drawn in bright red lipstick.

Safe to say the other heat of the day was Silvana Lima and Coco Ho - a sort of Jordy v. Dane for the women's side, with aerial queen and holder of the week's only perfect 10 Silvana going against a white-hot Hawaiian newcomer. A flurry of four rides opened the exchange, and instantly the judging scale had to be reset. So clearly elevated was the level of surfing that the normally quick tower took 6 minutes to deliver its scores. Coco took the win vertically, marking her first major scalp as a qualified WCT surfer. After besting Rebecca Woods in the next round, Coco is through to the semis against fellow islander Mel Bartels.

The forecast is good for the weekend, and with only three heats remaining in the Roxy Pro, a 2009 champion isn't far off. The men have a ways to go in the Quik Pro before a winner is crowned, but with swell on the way and a serious shot at running the event on Snapper's lengthy walls, the next four days promise to be barn-burners. Coolangatta will be asleep early tonight, ready for a full crack at sudden death action from the men first thing Saturday. Log on as Parko, Bede, Wardo, Dane, Jordy, and a host of others fight to avoid a year-opening 33rd, and as Happy Gilmore looks to start her title defense off with a bang.

Heat 1: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12.73, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 10.07, Ashleigh Smith (AUS) 7.83
Heat 2: Megan Abubo (HAW) 12.33, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.16, Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS) 9.43

Heat 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 15.17 def. Amee Donohoe (AUS) 11.34
Heat 2: Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 13.50 def. Samantha Cornish (AUS) 13.43
Heat 3: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 14.00 def. Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 11.{{{90}}}
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.83 def. Megan Abubo (HAW) 8.40
Heat 5: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.33 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.50
Heat 6: Rebecca Woods (AUS) 13.50 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.50
Heat 7: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 15.40 def. Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 12.86
Heat 8: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 11.83 def. Alana Blanchard (HAW) 6.70

QF 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.17 def. Bruna Schmitz (BRA) 8.20
QF 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 15.83 def. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 14.83
QF 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.34 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 7.23
QF 4: Melanie Bartels (HAW) 11.{{{57}}} def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 11.50

SF 1: Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)
SF 2: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Melanie Bartels (HAW)