A thrilling day of action unfolded at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, the third stop on the Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), as the women’s competition ran through Rounds 2, 3 and 4 in solid six foot surf at Main Break. The Quarterfinalists were decided following a day of high scores and strong performances. Ratings leader Carissa Moore (HAW) looked dominant while reigning six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) was forced to withdraw from the competition following a knee injury sustained during a freesurf.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) was first to claim her place in the Quarterfinals after winning through her Round 3 heat against Coco Ho (HAW) and Lakey Peterson (USA). Fitzgibbons looked comfortable and in control through the heat, starting with an excellent 9.50 to take the lead. An exciting exchange with 10 minutes remaining saw each of the surfers find a wave. Peterson posted a 9.17 while Fitzgibbons showed off carving maneuvers and seamless transitions for an 8.17, quickly following it up with another nine-point ride. Ho wasn’t able to find the waves she needed and was left in a combination situation. She went on to leave the contest in equal 9th place after being defeated by rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) in Round 4.
“I’m really enjoying my time here, especially surfing out here at Main Break,” said Fitzgibbons. “I’ve put in lots of hours out there and it’s really good out there today. The rights are great and you can really set your rail and get in some good turns. You have to be more tactical in the three women heats and really focus on being on those best waves.”
Defending two-time event winner and ratings leader Carissa Moore (HAW) powered her way through to the Quarterfinals with the highest heat total of the competition so far, a huge 19.23. The Hawaiian posted three nine-point rides during her heat, including a near-perfect 9.73 for two big power hooks. Despite strong performances from both Weston-Webb and Johanne Defay (FRA) they couldn’t top the two-time World Champion. Defay will go home with a 9th-place finish after losing out to Peterson while Weston-Webb will face Moore in the Quarterfinals.
“For me I never let my foot off the gas in a heat,” Moore said. “These girls they’re too good and Tatiana (Weston-Webb) and Johanne (Defay) are capable of getting two tens. I’m feeling really psyched to be on tour at the moment with these girls and I feel like I’ve got nothing to lose. Life can’t get any better.”
Peterson has secured a Quarterfinal berth for the third event in a row and will be looking to make it into the Semifinals for the first time this year when competition resumes. Peterson put on a dominant display in her Round 4 heat for a win over Defay and will now match up against Fitzgibbons in the Quarters.
“Surfing bigger waves is something I’ve had to get used to and that I’ve been working on,” Peterson said. “I only started surfing when I was 11-years-old and I grew up in California where there’s not many big waves around. Working with Mike (Parsons) we’ve been surfing some bigger waves in Hawaii and Mexico and it’s cool to see myself being more comfortable in bigger surf. This has been an event that’s always challenged me, I’ve never finished better than 9th place, so to now be here making heats and feeling good is amazing.”
Fitzgibbons, Moore, Peterson and Weston-Webb will be joined in the Quarterfinals by Tyler Wright (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Bianca Buitendag (ZAF).
Reigning WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) was forced to withdraw from the competition following a knee injury sustained during a freesurf yesterday. More scans are required before she will know full extent of the injury but she’s hopeful of returning to competition at the next event in Brazil. Conlogue advanced into the Quarterfinals following Gilmore’s exit.
“Unfortunately I’ve got a little fracture in my fibular,” Gilmore said. “I did it freesurfing yesterday morning. As soon as I heard the girls were off I jetted down the coast to find some fun waves. It was pretty much my very first wave, I ejected out of the lip and tried to pin drop feet first and went straight-legged into the sand. It didn’t turn out too pretty but it’s okay. I hobbled up the beach and thought it might get a little better, but it didn’t and it got more painful. I went in and got an x-ray to see if there was any damage and there’s a little fracture. Now I’ve got to wait until I get an MRI and hopefully I have no ligament damage. It’s pretty painful and I don’t want to push it and make it worse. Hopefully I can rest up and be ready for the next event. Fractures are not as bad as ligaments so hopefully it’s just that and I can be back in a couple of weeks time, but I’ll wait and see. Fingers crossed I’m okay for Brazil.”
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 2 Results (1st to R3, 2nd = 13th):
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 14.80 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.90
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) 13.74 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 10.66
Heat 3: Malia Manuel (HAW) 15.60 def. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 6.80
Heat 4: Johanne Defay (FRA) 16.50 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 15.50
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 18.30 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 8.44
Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.83 def. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 8.73
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 3 Results (1st to QF, 2nd & 3rd to R4):
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 18.80, Lakey Peterson (USA) 15.00, Coco Ho (HAW) 11.67
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 19.23, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 17.26, Johanne Defay (FRA) 15.77
Heat 3: Malia Manuel (HAW) 15.53, Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.40, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 00.00 *Did not surf
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.97, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.20, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 13.20
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 4 Results (1st to QF, 2nd = 9th):
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 17.16 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 12.00
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 17.26 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 13.13
Heat 3: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 17.44 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.40
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) *Heat did on surf
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Match-ups:
QF 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA)
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
QF 3: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
QF 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)