Where to begin after such a dramatic day of surfing? The tales of rookies, young guns and gals litter the landscape. The Quiksilver Pro is down to the final seven heats and the Roxy Pro crowned a new queen today.
Let's start with the Roxy Pro that has been running in conjunction with the Quiksilver Pro. The Roxy has been buried under the men's event over the past couple of days, but finally the women jumped to the front with spectacular surfing and some incredible high scores by the new crew of young gals.
Kelly Slater nailed his 46th World Tour victory and his third Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast title at Snapper Rocks in Australia on Wednesday, defeating defending champion Taj Burrow in a wave-starved final which hung in the balance until after the final siren had sounded.
Quiksilver Pro Final Gallery
Laura Enever knocked defending champ and current world champ Stephanie Gilmore out of the event in the quarters. Former World Junior Champion Enever is a 2011 tour rookie, but on her way to a semifinal finish she knocked out two world champions in Gilmore and Sofia Mulanovich, proving she's wise beyond her years.
Sixteen-year-old Tyler Wright, another tour rookie knocked out Enever on her way to the final. Wright, younger sis to Owen, looked like one of the favorites early in the event and never let off the throttle. And while I guess you can't really call Sally Fitzgibbons and Carrisa Moore rookies, you'd have to call them young gals too. Both Fitzgibbons and Moore racked up amazing heat scores in their quarter and semifinal heats, leaving a trail of nine-point rides in their wake. Fitzgibbons' quarterfinal heat tally was 19.20 out of 20 points, Moore racked up 18.37 points out of 20. But in their semifinal clash, Fitzgibbons couldn't stop Moore. It's the start of an amazing rivalry.
And in the end Moore was just on too much of a roll to be stopped. Even the powerful, attacking surfing of Wright couldn't disrupt her rhythm in the finals. After an amazing exhibition of progressive surfing the Roxy Pro podium featured two teenagers. Moore is just 18 years old and as mentioned, Wright, who had to get a letter from her parents to do the World Tour this year, is 16 years old. Previously Wright had won a World Tour event as a wildcard at the ripe old age of 14. Are we seeing the future of women's surfing? In a word, yes.
"I've won two events as a wildcard, but making the final in my first tour event is way more important," said Wright after the presentation. "I'm happy with how I surfed this whole event and I just couldn't get going in the final."
When asked what was going through her head when she pulled into a Snapper barrel from behind the rocks she explained, "I couldn't pass it up. I knew Carrisa had priority, but it just reared up and I went for it. I had to jump off when Carrisa dropped in, but it was such a good tube."
The ride Wright was describing was a four or five second barrel from behind the rocks that she'd snagged after jumping off the jet ski assist. Moore joked about the barrel at the presentation. "I had to drop in on her because I knew if I didn't then she could have very well beaten me with that ride and won the heat. Sorry about that."
Wright had exited the barrel as Moore dropped down the face and with a new rule for the 2011 season, both Wright's and Moore's score were counted. Wright got over seven points for the tube while Moore scored over six points for the rest of the wave.
Part two of the day's story also had a lot to do with fresh faces and fresh names in the Quiksilver Pro's quarterfinals. After Round 4 in the morning, Dusty Payne, Brett Simpson, Alejo Muniz and Matty Wilkinson found themselves in the quarters, while guys like Jordy Smith, Taj Burrow, Kelly Slater and Joel Parkinson were relegated to Round 5.
"I don't know what the difference is this year," said Simpson, trying to explain his win in Round 4. "I got married in January, had a few weeks off, got some new boards, and I'm feeling pretty fresh, so I'm happy with how things are working out."
When asked about Rabbit Bartholomew giving him advice about riding Snapper he laughed, but agreed it was good to have Rabbit at his side. When it was suggested it could be something to do with his new JS surfboards and the bright sprays he agreed. "Yeah, if it's good enough for Parko then it's definitely good enough for me."
Wilkinson's also been happy with his new boards and being in the quarters. "I just started playing around with shapes during the offseason and was just riding this little board for fun," he said. The board he is referring to has the tail of a short board and the nose of a fish. "I have been riding it for months and when I got here to Snapper I found I couldn't ride a normal board, so I've just kept riding the one. I've been having so much fun on." All you can say is it's working.
The defending champ Taj Burrow and Adriano de Souza put together the heat of the contest in the afternoon. With nine minutes to go, De Souza and Burrow were both counting nine-point ride in their score line. Burrow was even throwing away an eight-point ride. It was an amazing heat with the lead going back and forth as each guy pushed the other. Barrels, airs, tail slides, carving 360s, the heat had it all. Some guys on tour could go all year, or maybe even their whole career, without scoring a pair of nines, and to lose a heat when you do must be doubly hard. De Souza could only smile later while Burrow was psyched for the final day. The pair had re-written ASP history with one of the highest combined heat scores: Burrow with 19.06 points out of 20 and De Souza with 18.94 points.
Finally, the last of the Snapper locals went down. Joel Parkinson and Jordy Smith clashed in the last heat of the day and for most of the heat it looked like Parko was going through to the quarters. For some unknown reason Parko, who was holding priority, let Jordy have a wave in the final minutes of the heat. Needing just over a seven-point wave, Jordy smashed and tail-slid his way down the line, nailing the score and the lead. Parko let a couple of waves go under him as the announcers counted down the heat. Parko was out and as one observer said, "You can train all you like, but you've got to ride waves to win."
Smith was also surprised that Parko had let him take off on his last wave. "I wasn't trying to draw Parko off his priority, but when I realized he wasn't going then I just went for it. I wasn't sure if I'd got the score, but when I saw one of my best friends running out to me as I paddled to the beach I knew I had squeaked in."
Although, Smith will probably be sporting a black eye tomorrow for his troubles. "I pushed it too hard on one of my first waves and I was smacked in the face by my rail. I was spitting blood and my eye was hurting the whole heat. I thought I'd even broken a tooth." It will be a small price to pay if he can get up for a win tomorrow.
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST FINAL RESULTS:
1. Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.34
2. Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.37
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST SEMIFINAL RESULTS:
SF 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.53 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 11.84
SF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.00 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.50
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINAL RESULTS:
QF 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.77 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 10.44
QF 2: Laura Enever (AUS) 15.67 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.50
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 19.20 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 14.50
QF 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 18.37 def. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 11.83
ASP WOMEN'S WORLD TITLE TOP 5 (After Roxy Pro Gold Coast)
1. Carissa Moore (HAW) 10,000
2. Tyler Wright (AUS) 8,000 points
3. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 5,200 points
3. Laura Enever (AUS) 6,500 points
5. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 5,200 points
5. Silvana Lima (BRA) 5,200 points
5. Coco Ho (HAW) 5,200 points
5. Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 5,200 points
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.07, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.83, Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.80
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.53, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.14, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.06
Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.60, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.63, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.87
Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.23, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.76, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.56
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.80 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.60
Heat 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.27 def. Michel Bouez (PYF) 12.94
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 19.06 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18.94
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.67 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.17
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
QF 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
QF 3: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
QF 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)