MARGARET RIVER, Western Australia: The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 2 on the 2014 Samsung Galaxy ASP World Championship Tour, was called ON yesterday for the Men’s and Women’s Round 1 in four-to-six foot (1.5 – 2 metre) waves. In an action packed first day of competition there were standout performances from Julian Wilson (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Courtney Conlogue (USA). With Round 1 complete for both the men and women winners will advance directly to Round 3 while the rest will battle again in elimination Round 2.
The second Heat of the day saw South African Jordy Smith, Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz and dangerous Brazilian Raoni Monteiro take to the water. The trio were forced to restart the Heat following a wave-starved first 10 minutes. Despite the inconsistent conditions Smith logged the first excellent score of the event, an 8.33, for a series of ferocious forehand carves, marking a solid return to form following an uncharacteristic Round 2 stumble on the Gold Coast. The South African continued his Round 1 dominance, locking in to an additional righthander for a 7.00, punctuating a dominant opening campaign at Margaret River. Smith moves directly to Round 3 while Zietz will face Matt Wilkinson in Round 2 and Monteiro will matchup against C.J. Hobgood.
“I’d like to better my result at Snapper (Rocks),” said Jordy Smith. “It’s a long year ahead and I’m sure that many of the tops guys will have bad results at some point. Hopefully my result at the Gold Coast was my bad one out of the way and I can look forward to a good year ahead.”
Local hero Taj Burrow, Hawaiian Fred Patacchia and Californian Brett Simpson exchanged a series of low scores throughout the majority of their quiet Heat, leaving the door open for any competitor to steal a coveted Round 1 win. While big scores remained elusive, Burrow found a rhythm in the final minutes, logging two mid-range rides on Margaret River’s righthanders for the win.
“I had a really bad Heat to be honest,” said Taj Burrow. “I’m going to take that as a warm up. I feel very lucky winning that one. I missed a really good wave and Brett (Simpson) got it. I was really angry after that so I tried to compose myself. I’ll take the win but I have to do a lot better than that in the next Round.”
Event Wildcard and past ASP WCT competitor Yadin Nicol (AUS) put together a dominant performance to open his campaign, lighting up the rights of Main Break to secure a commanding Round 1 win over 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and Bede Durbidge (AUS). The local hero, Nicol, led the bout from start to finish, sealing a spot directly in to Round 3 compliments of an 8.23 and 7.00, leaving both Slater and Durbidge in need of excellent scores. Slater will face trials winner Nathan Hedge in the first Heat of Round 2 and Durbidge take on Fredrick Patacchia in the last.
“It felt great to beat Kelly Slater,” said Yadin Nicol. “I wish I could have done that last year or the year before. I felt comfortable out there. I usually don’t start out that well so I’m happy to have one under my belt. There wasn’t much going on in that Heat so Slater and Durbidge didn’t have much of a chance to fight back, so I was lucky in that sense.”
While the previous Heats were plagued by inconsistent waves, Julian Wilson (AUS) put together one of the Heats of the day, detonating an 8.50 and 7.50 with an impressive forehand display on the Margaret River rights. Wilson managed to log the highest heat total of the day, but was incredibly patient, riding only three waves throughout his 30-minute affair. Wilson will move straight through to Round 3 while Jeremy Flores (FRA) and Dion Atkinson (AUS) will have to compete again in Round 2. Flores will matchup against Kolohe Andino and Atkinson will face John John Florence.
“It was a fun Heat,” said Julian Wilson. “It’s really clean out there which makes it a lot easier to pick the good waves. I was in a rhythm with the priority, which I think helped too. I’m happy to be back in Margaret River, I love coming over here. Snapper (Rocks) was frustrating but I’m feeling focused. It’s a long year and there’s going to be ups and downs. I just have to keep pushing forward and focus on the positives.”
The final men’s Heat of the day saw the aerial vanguards of surfing’s next generation doing battle. Current ASP WCT No. 1 Gabriel Medina, former event winner John John Florence and Californian wunderkind Kolohe Andino all took to the Margaret River righthanders with power, punch and bite. Florence opened up the affair with a monster forehand rotation to take an early lead. However, Medina answered back with a huge helicopter backhand aerial transitioning into a series of powerful turns. A late assault from Florence and Andino proved not enough to overtake the Brazilian and they’ll battle it out in their respective Round 2 heats while Medina heads straight to Round 3.
“That was a hard Heat against John John (Florence) and Kolohe (Andino). It felt good to win and it’s given me more confidence for the rest of the competition,” said Gabriel Medina. “I started doing airs because I saw John John (Florence) going for it. That’s how competition works, we are all pushing each other to raise the level. It feels good to be the Rankings leader, there is pressure but I’m feeling great.”
Courtney Conlogue (USA) struck first to kick off the Women’s Drug Aware Margaret River Pro with a solid 7.33 for a series of powerful turns on a steep righthander. The American backed up the ride with a 6.50 in what proved to be a one-sided affair, with both Coco Ho (HAW) and Alana Blanchard (HAW) hunting for scores throughout the heat. Conlogue’s win sees her advance directly to Round 3 while relegating the Hawaiians to elimination Round 2. Ho will matchup against Nikki Van Dijk and Blanchard will face Dimity Stoyle.
“There are some tough conditions out there, it’s really windy,” said Courtney Conlogue. “I’m so happy to skip Round 2 because it’s sudden death and it’s tricky here at Margaret River right now. I think all the training I’ve done has really helped. I’m just thinking about winning events and winning Heats at the moment. Everyone wants a World Title but it’s a matter of applying yourself in those high-stress situations and trying to make things happen. It’s a marathon this year.”
Heat 2 saw five-time ASP Women’s World Champion and current World No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore take on Kiwi Paige Hareb and French talent Pauline Ado in challenging afternoon conditions. Hareb jumped to an early lead via a series of backhand blasts on a Main Break right, but Gilmore battled back, logging two consecutive rides, securing her first Round 1 victory of the 2014 season. Hareb and Ado will face each other again in Round 2.
“It wasn’t the most exciting Heat but it’s a win so I’ll take it,” said Stephanie Gilmore. “I haven’t surfed Margaret River that much when the swell direction is coming from the South and the right isn’t opening up as much as I’d like. It’s really quite a complicated wave but every Heat you learn something and take that on to your next Heat. Hopefully I can utilize that in my game plan come out with another win.”
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.23, Nat Young (USA) 8.77, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 8.23
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.33, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.70, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.26
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.77, Brett Simpson (USA) 9.50, Fred Patacchia (HAW) 7.60
Heat 4: Adam Melling (AUS) 13.17, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.83, Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 9.30
Heat 5: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 15.23, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.87, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.37
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.17, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 9.43, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 7.57
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.00, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.53, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 9.17
Heat 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.57, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.06, Travis Logie (ZAF) 8.90
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.50, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 4.83, Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 10: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.50, Owen Wright (AUS) 11.26, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.86
Heat 11: Kai Otton (AUS) 13.40, Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.83, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.10
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.40, John John Florence (HAW) 14.67, Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.96
Drug Aware Margaret River Women’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.83, Coco Ho (HAW) 7.16, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 5.13
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.16, Paige Hareb (NZL) 6.77, Pauline Ado (FRA) 3.46
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (AUS) 11.43, Laura Macaulay (AUS) 11.04, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 6.13
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.50, Johanne Defay (FRA) 10.76, Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 7.86
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.50, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.17, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 7.57
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) v. Nathan Hedge (AUS)
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) v. Mitch Coleborn (AUS)
Heat 3: Nat Young (USA) v. Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) v. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 5: Adriano De Souza (BRA) v. Aritz Aranburu (ESP)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) v. Dion Atkinson (AUS)
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) v. Travis Logie (ZAF)
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) v. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) v. Mitch Crews (AUS)
Heat 10: Jeremy Flores (FRA) v. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) v. Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 12: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) v. Bebe Durbidge (AUS)
Drug Aware Margaret River Women’s Pro Round 2 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) v. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 2: Pauline Ado (FRA) v. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) v. Laura Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) v. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Heat 5: Coco Ho (HAW) v. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 6: Alessa Quizon (HAW) v. Laura Enever (AUS)
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