MARGARET RIVER, Western Australia: A spectacular day of surfing at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro saw the Women’s Semifinalists decided with nine-point rides from both Carissa Moore and Sally Fitzgibbons. The reigning ASP Women’s World Champion, Moore, will matchup against ASP World No. 1 Stephanie Gilmore while Fitzgibbons will face 2012 ASP Runner-up Tyler Wright in a repeat of last year’s Semifinal.
The Women’s Quarterfinals held no shortage of action, with a heated battle between Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) and two-time event winner Courtney Conlogue (USA). Conlogue controlled the Heat through the majority of the battle, but Gilmore found a way to fight back, locking in a mid-range 7 to keep her hopes of victory at Margaret River alive. With just seconds remaining on the clock, Gilmore, in need of a 7.08, secured a wave under Conlogue’s priority. The five-time ASP Women’s World Champion delivered two powerful forehand gouges, earning a 7.10 for the ride and a spot in the Semifinals where she will face reigning ASP Women’s World Champion, Carissa Moore (HAW).
“I was pretty flustered out there,” said Stephanie Gilmore. “I kept making mistakes and I was just lucky that something fell into place in the end. I got one good wave and it finally got my confidence up. Courtney’s a hard one to beat and she just kept putting the pressure on, she’s so assertive in the lineup. I had to find a way to get out of that sticky situation and luckily I had a little magic at the end so it worked out alright. It’s going to harder from here on in but it definitely feels good to be through to the Semifinals.”
“I guess I just wasn’t up to par,” said Courtney Conlogue. “I’ll just learn from my mistakes and take it to the next event. Hopefully sooner or later I’ll get past this Quarterfinal hump.”
The second Quarterfinal saw a Gold Coast rematch between reigning two-time ASP Women’s World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and progressive Kauaian Malia Manuel. Manuel struck first, locking in a 6-point ride alongside a low backup score to take an early lead. Moore struggled to find a rhythm in the first half of the affair, but opened the second half with back-to-back rides, unloading a 9 and a 7.50 with her signature forehand power. Moores moves on to the Semifinals while Manuel leaves the competition in equal 5th place.
“I was really happy to get a 9,” said Carissa Moore. “I found a bigger wave and I was able to really push my turns. The Semifinal match-up with Stephanie (Gilmore) will be a good one but either way I’m just really pleased to have another chance to surf against her. She got the better of me back on the Gold Coast so I’d love to get her at this event. To beat Steph you have to go out there with a really strong all-around game. You have to catch the right waves and surf to your best potential.”
2012 ASP Runner-Up Tyler Wright took on fellow Australian Laura Enever in Quarterfinal No. 3. Enever jumped out to an early lead thanks to an impressive tailslide to snap combination for a 6. Wright fought back, locking in a 7 and a 6 of her own to steal the lead. Enever regained priority in the final minutes but failed to capitalize on a potentially heat-changing wave, securing a Semifinals berth for Wright where she will face Sally Fitzgibbons.
“It’s tricky out here, you just have to pick a wave and go for it,” said Tyler Wright. “It’s challenging but I try to make the most of it and I knew Laura (Enever) was going to do the same. I was fortunate enough to get in two turns and get the score I needed. It’s not so much about the result for me but more about the way I surf and I was really happy with that Heat and I’ve enjoyed myself.”
The final heat of the day saw perennial ASP World Title contender Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) take on lethal tour sophomore Bianca Buitendag (ZAF). Buitendag struck first with a midrange score. Fitzgibbons answered back with a midrange score of her own, and was able to build momentum throughout the 30-minute affair. Fitzgibbons dismantled the rights with impressive precision, scoring a 7.83, 7.37 and finally a 9.00, leaving Buitendag in a combination situation and with an equal 5th place.
“I’m feeling strong and I’m really happy with the way the Heat went,” said Sally Fitzgibbons. “Bianca (Buitendag) has been in great form from the Gold Coast so it was really good to win today and move through to the Semifinals. Tyler and I have had quite a number of Heats together so I’ll definitely draw from previous experience. I feel like I’ve got what it takes to piece together a really good Heat.”
Earlier in day saw action from Men’s Round 2 and first up was 11-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) against trials winner and veteran campaigner Nathan Hedge (AUS). First to strike was the Australian, delivering a series of passionate backhand blasts while Slater followed with polished forehand carves. Both Slater and Hedge continued to attack the righthanders in a seesaw battle with incredible commitment, finishing their rides off on dry reef. While the pair exchanged waves throughout the 30-minute entirety, Slater’s scores of 7.50 and 6.50 will see him advance to Round 3 over Hedge, who leaves the competition in equal 25th.
“It was a close Heat,” said Kelly Slater. “I was in the lead but Nathan (Hedge) was almost able to pull it out at the end. He got a great wave with about five minutes to go and by the look of his takeoff I thought he would get the score to win. My last wave was a really good one but I caught the edge a little bit on my second turn. It would have been my best wave and sealed the Heat but I made a little mistake.”
2012 ASP World Champion and current ASP WCT No. 2 Joel Parkinson did battle with fellow Australian and lethal replacement surfer Mitch Coleborn. Both surfers opted to utilize the righthanders out at Main Break and Parkinson’s versatile forehand approach proved advantageous over his goofty-footed opponent. Coleborn will leave the competition in equal 25th place while Parkinson will advance to Round 3 where he will face Kolohe Andino.
“You have to be selective on which waves you ride here,” said Joel Parkinson. “The lefts are really hard here, so everyone wants to go right. It’s so good here in Margaret River, the area is amazing, it’s one of the best places in the world. I love the relaxed vibe. I was hard to surf against Mitch (Coleborn) today. He’s a great friend and really deserves to be on Tour”.
Perennial World Title contender John John Florence (HAW) secured his first Heat win in over three months after delivering a powerful display in Round 2 against dynamic rookie Dion Atkinson (AUS). Florence posted the highest single-wave score of the competition so far by blending airs, turns, barrels and fin-free maneuvers for a near-perfect 9.87. Florence flies through to Round 3 to match up against Gabriel Medina.
“There was definitely some pressure on after losing two Heats at Snapper (Rocks) and losing the first Heat here,” said John John Florence. “All that pressure builds up when you lose so it was stressing me out. I was itching to get out there and get a win. I was surfing as well as I could and I’m happy to get through. I like the wave here at Margaret River, it reminds me of home.”
Drug Aware Margaret River Women’s Pro Semifinal Match-ups:
Semifinal 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Carissa Moore (HAW)
Semifinal 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
Drug Aware Margaret River Women’s Pro Quarterfinal Results:
Quarterfinal 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.60 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.57
Quarterfinal 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.50 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 9.60
Quarterfinal 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.34 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 9.50
Quarterfinal 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.83 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.63
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Round 3 Match-ups:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Bede Durbidge (AUS)
Heat 2: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Adrian Buchan (AUS)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA) vs. John John Florence (HAW)
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Yadin Nicol (AUS)
Heat 7: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
Heat 10: Nat Young (USA) vs. Sebastian Zeitz (HAW)
Heat 11: Adriano De Souza (BRA) vs. Owen Wright (AUS)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 14.00 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 13.16
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.64 def. Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 6.96
Heat 3: Nat Young (USA) 15.10 def. Brett Simpson (USA) 6.97
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 15.10 def. Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.57
Heat 5: Adriano De Souza (BRA) 11.17 def. Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 10.94
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW) 17.60 def. Dion Atkinson (AUS) 13.43
Heat 7: Michel Bourez (PYF) 10.77 def. Travis Logie (ZAF) 9.70
Heat 8: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.20 def. Perth Standlick (AUS) 10.00
Heat 9: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.10 def. Mitch Crews (AUS) 11.77
Heat 10: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.50 def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.17
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 15.83 def. Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.77
Heat 12: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 13.03 def. Fred Patacchia (HAW) 12.67
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