High drama and excellent scores continued today as the world’s best surfers did battle in clean three-to-five foot waves at Snapper Rocks, completing Rounds 2, 3 and the opening two heats of Round 4 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast pres. By BOQ.
The opening stop on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast bore witness to the world’s best surfing once again today as major results and huge upsets unfolded in front of thousands on the beach and millions watching around the world.
Filipe Toledo (BRA), defending Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast champion, bookended the day’s affairs with incendiary surfing, first dispatching of lethal rookie Ryan Callinan (AUS) in Round 3 and then posting a near-perfect 19.20 out of a possible 20 in Round 4 to advance directly through to the Quarterfinals.
“I am still shaking watching these waves because it is so perfect,” said Toledo. “I am just super excited and cannot wait to get back into the water again. I want to keep going with good scores and doing well in heats. The board feels amazing, so I am feeling confident and having more fun in each heat.”
Sebastian Zietz (HAW), who gained entry into the event as an injury replacement, caused a major upset by knocking out local favorite and three-time World Champion, Mick Fanning (AUS) in Heat 7. Zietz opened the heat with a massive layback snap, showcasing the same all-out approach he used to advance out of Round 2. A snapped board forced Fanning to switch out his equipment and leave the line-up with six minutes to go on the clock. Zietz was able to pull out a second high scoring ride in the dying minutes of the heat, to take the win and advance to Round 4.
“I think being more relaxed translates into catching better waves,” said Zietz. “When you are relaxed it all just comes to, and I have a really good board and a good team. I’m bummed for Mick. I thought he was surfing the best out of anybody so I better go far for him.”
Stuart Kennedy (AUS), injury replacement, continued the day’s upsets in the last heat of Round 3 as he eliminated 2014 WSL World Champion and 2014 event winner, Gabriel Medina (BRA). Kennedy unleashed multiple risky maneuvers to earn a 0.27 lead over the Brazilian heavyweight.
“I love surfing against the best guys. It pushes my surfing to the next level after grinding it out on the Qualifying Series for so long,” said Kennedy. “I just knew I could get on some good waves and let my surfing do the talking. It has been a grind to get to this level, but I’m so stoked to have the opportunity to be the replacement, but hopefully I can keep getting more opportunities throughout the year. To beat those two guys, Kelly and Gabriel, it’s like a dream come true for sure.”
Adriano de Souza (BRA), reigning WSL World Champion, continued to showcase his power surfing as he defeated event wildcard Mikey Wright (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 6. In an all out battle, Wright and De Souza went wave for wave, but it was the Brazilian who took the lead with a two-wave combined score of 16.17.
“Mikey is such a great talent and surfer, and such a nice young gentleman, but I am so happy to make it through this heat,” De Souza said. “Round 3 is that round that does not make a lot of points, so I was nervous out there. I am happy to make this heat, but I also want to have fun too, and I definitely felt that on that wave.”
John John Florence (HAW) pulled out all the stops against Michel Bourez (PYF), most notably with his massive double-grab air that put 9.23 points on the board. Florence’s flair paid off, as he created a 4.06 point gap that Bourez was unable to close.
“The waves are really fun right now, you just have to pretty much enjoy it,” said Florence after his heat. “Michel is a scary guy to surf against for sure so I had a little bit of nerves, but I was thinking about myself and trying to have fun out here, and it ended up working out.”
2016 WSL Rookies also dealt out big upsets in Round 3 today, showcasing the depth of talent in this year’s rookie class. Conner Coffin (USA), Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Kanoa Igarashi (USA)excelled in their match-ups to take down Italo Ferreira (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA) respectively.
Coffin came charging into Heat 3 defeating Italo Ferreira (BRA), the 2015 WSL Rookie of the year in the last thirty seconds of the heat. Coffins’ buzzer-beater score over-took Ferreira’s lead by only 0.21 points to securing Coffin in Round 4.
“I used to surf against Italo in World Juniors and he used to be this air-maniac doing crazy air-reverses and last year it looked like he took the whole year to work on his power surfing,” said Coffin. “Showing up at Snapper I was super impressed. I knew it was going to be a hard heat and to get a big score you had to catch a wave with a lot of wall and not sit forever. I was so stoked that last wave came.”
Cover photo courtesy of WSL/ Brett Skinner