Competition continued today with massive upsets at the Hurley Pro and Swatch Women’s Pro, Stops No. 8 and 7 respectively on the World Surf League (WSL) Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT). With Men’s Rounds 1 and 2, along with Women’s Round 3 completed, the day saw no shortage of excitement as elimination was on the line for the men and an opportunity to earn a spot in the Quarterfinals was at stake for the women.
World Title implications were at risk right out of the gates in the opening heat of Men’s Round 2 with Matt Wilkinson (AUS), current No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard, falling to wildcard Brett Simpson (USA) in a nail-biting Round 2 heat. Wilkinson looked to be in tune with the Lowers lineup to start things off and took an early lead, but a late comeback witnessed Simpson earn a 6.93 after needing a 6.49. But, the Australian had one final attempt to score a 6.87. When the final horn sounded, it was just 0.24 short of the requirement.
“In the beginning I was going to my old ways and catching bad waves, just doing dumb things, so I finally told myself to calm down and just ride waves,” Simpson said. “Just look at a wave and if I like it, just go and surf it out which ended up working out in the end. I’ve never been in his position going for a World Title being way up there and I’m sure he’s disappointed. I mean I’m not on tour this year and have no pressure but you still feel the nerves. I still feel like I’m good enough to be here and just want to surf well.”
The upsets continued when Adriano de Souza (BRA), reigning WSL Champion, fell to CT veteran Kai Otton (AUS) in Round 2 Heat 3 and was eliminated from the event. The Brazilian battled to keep in the contest, but the Australian earned an early lead with an excellent 8.00 and locked in the win with a solid 6.77. De Souza will walk away with his second consecutive 25th place finish.
“No one wants to lose,” said Otton. “I don’t want to lose at all this year but I’ve had a great ten years and I’m just kind of content with those years I’ve put in. I’ve got a great family at home so whatever happens, happens this year. It’s always good to earn a bit of money surfing and great when there’s three events at home so I’d really like to make it and get the ball rolling. But, I’ve put myself in a really tough position and I’ll have hard heats all year — I’ve had a top five guy now at the last six events so I’m up against it.”
Three-time WSL Champion and defending event winner, Mick Fanning (AUS), put out a stunning performance in Round 2 Heat 6 with a near-perfect 18.60 combined score to knock out compatriot Matt Banting (AUS). Fanning unleashed a series of powerful maneuvers to put Banting in a combination situation and advance to Round 3.
“There’s amazing waves out there and just such a beautiful place,” Fanning said. “Normally when you surf Trestles with no one out you just want to catch as many waves as you can and maybe we just had a good heat, but it seemed like it lined up really nice out there. Matt [Banting] surfed great, he just did some great turns. Going out and doing events, I’m here to perform and surf the best I can to have some points roll over which is what I try to do each and every day.”
11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater (USA) charged through Round 2 Heat 4 against 2016 WSL Rookie Ryan Callinan (AUS). Slater threw down a solid 7.50 and backed that up with an excellent 8.30. Callinan fought back with a 6.93, but was still left in need of an 8.87. Under pressure, the rookie charged down the line and earned an 8.27, falling just short of the heat win. Slater advances to Round 3 where he will face Jack Freestone (AUS).
“I’m just trying to have some fun right now,” said Slater. “I’m sad after Woody [David Wood] passing away. It’s really strange to be here right now, he’s been such a big part of this event and for me. Every time I’ve done well he’s been there to support me. I’m just trying to enjoy it and surf for Woody. We have this day in front of us right now and we don’t know what’s going to come tomorrow. Don’t take things for granted and you just never know, someone might have a tougher situation than you do and my life’s pretty blessed. I have a lot of great things in my life, a lot of great people, so I’m trying to enjoy the day for what it is.”
2016 WSL Rookie Alex Ribeiro (BRA) also upset the competition after defeating CT superstar Julian Wilson (AUS) in an extremely close Round 2 match-up. The rookie took to the air to land a 14.87, edging out Wilson by only 0.04 points. The win marks Ribeiro’s second Round 3 berth of the 2016 season. Wilson will walk away from the event with an Equal 25th place finish, his fourth this year.
“I’m so stoked to make that heat and was so excited to surf with some really good waves out there,” Ribeiro said. “It was great to get a good start today, I hurt my foot in the first few events so I’m really happy to be competing at my best again. I’m not in the best seeding so I get the top guys which is hard for me but I really believe in my potential, and I just have to put everything in the water.”
Fellow Brazilian Caio Ibelli (BRA) will join Ribeiro in Round 3 after he dispatched Davey Cathels (AUS). The head-to-head rookie match-up saw both athletes charging for the lead. Ibelli pulled out a tactical 13.76 combined score to beat Cathels by only 2.86 points. Conner Coffin (USA) battled fellow California-native Nat Young (USA) in a tight heat that witnessed Coffin edge out Young with an excellent 8.17.
Hometown hero Kolohe Andino (USA) secured his win against Jeremy Flores (FRA)and will advance to Round 3. Andino bashed a sizeable Lowers righthander all the way to the shore, finishing with a big air-reverse on the final section and posted a near-excellent 9.17. Flores couldn’t find the finish he needed to back up his impressive 8.10 that began the heat and was left searching for a last ride to combat the local favorite.
“I thought I was on my back foot when Jeremy [Flores] dropped that 8.10 and I only got a 6.67,” Andino said. “My heat yesterday made me super nervous, I definitely don’t want to be sitting out the whole time so I tried to get busy and use my priority for the big set. I definitely got a little emotional after I paddled back out after getting that 9.17 because I heard the whole beach erupt and I’ve never heard that my whole life — that was the coolest feeling ever. I almost had a tear in my eye just knowing I have such a rad town that’s backing me.”
Italo Ferreira (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS), and Miguel Pupo (BRA) also clinched their spots into the elimination Round 3.
The big upsets and drama from the men’s action spilled over into the Women’s non-elimination Round 3 with Johanne Defay (FRA) taking a big win over current No. 4Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and Hawaiian threat Coco Ho (HAW). The two Hawaiians will have another opportunity to advance in Round 4.
“I don’t think I managed my heat really well,” Defay said. “I went on a bad wave that closed out and I got really lucky they didn’t get the score, especially Tatiana [Weston-Webb] finding that good one at the end but she fell on the second turn. Sometimes it takes some luck and I’m really stoked to have made it. It’s kind of tricky to know which board is good with all the different conditions we see throughout the day with winds and no winds, so I had a little bit bigger board because of the wind today.”
Tyler Wright (AUS) continued to show why she is the current Jeep Rankings Leader with another dominant performance posting a massive 17.57. Both Laura Enever (AUS)and Sage Erickson (USA) will have to battle out of Round 4 as Wright jumps straight into the Quarterfinals for the sixth time this year.
“I’ve been surfing these type of conditions the last few weeks because it’s a bit less crowded so that probably played into my favor,” Wright said. “It’s really just what I’ve been surfing the past few weeks and I love it. It feels super good to surf out there with no one out and really have some fun. It’s always good to skip a round and I’m just doing what I know how to do out there, and get the job done.”
Immediately after Wright’s brilliant performance, Courtney Conlogue (USA) took to the water in hopes of keeping up with the Australian frontrunner, but will have to surf again in elimination Round 4 following defeat at the hands of Nikki Van Dijk (AUS). Van Dijk’s final wave in the dying seconds gave her the go ahead and a spot into the Quarterfinals while Conlogue and Malia Manuel (HAW) will battle in Round 4.
“Every time I go into Round 3 the goal is always to go straight to the Quarters so that’s an amazing feeling and I’m so stoked already,” Van Dijk said. “That was a scratchy one for all of us I feel like. Lucky enough for me a wave came through in the last few seconds so it turned out to be a proper wave. I needed a five-something and just so lucky I got one last opportunity. I’m really just focusing on myself and doing the best I can.”
The final heat of Round 3 witnessed an incredible clash with reigning three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW), six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS)and 2016 WSL Rookie Keely Andrew (AUS). Gilmore captured the lead with a near-perfect 9.10 by performing clean, powerful maneuvers down the line. The rookie battled the CT superstars out of an early combination, but it was Moore who locked in two mid-range scores, a 6.00 and a 7.00, to top Gilmore.
“Anytime you come up against Stephanie Gilmore, you have to bring your A-game,” Moore said. “I don’t feel like I brought my A-game in that heat. The way it was going, I was just thinking I have to turn it around and felt like it was Steph’s heat to lose because she knows what waves to pick, and she surfs really well out here. I was just trying to get myself back in the heat and put something together. It feels good to get through that heat but it’s one of those where I got away with one and it won’t happen like that again.”
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. local time for a possible 8:00 a.m. start.]]>