The stage is set for a thrilling final series at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast after a huge day of action that saw competition run through men’s Rounds 3, 4 and 5, and women’s Round 4 in three-to-five foot surf (1 – 1.5 metre) at Snapper Rocks. The world’s best surfers battled for their place in the Quarterfinals at the opening stop of the World Surf League Championship Tour.
Reigning WSL Champion John John Florence, from Hawaii, won his Round 4 heat to earn his place in the Quarterfinals and continue his run at Snapper Rocks. Florence took down 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson and Italo Ferreira in Heat 2. The 24-year-old Champion has yet to drop a heat in this event and will work to best last year’s 5th place finish.
The wind came up before that heat and was blowing into the wave faces which made it super tricky. It’s really difficult to find those open faces and get the turns in that you want to. Non-elimination heats are always good, but making the Quarterfinals is a good feeling. – John John Florence.
Owen Wright continued his incredible comeback from injury to full-time CT competition by eliminating close friend and teammate three-time WSL Champion Mick Fanning in an intense Round 3 battle. Both surfers put on an exciting show for the crowd as they opened up Heat 8 with competitive 7-point scores. Wright backed-up his total with an excellent 8.10, forcing Fanning to chase a 7.28. The two-time event winner fell just short on his attempt with a 7.10 and will be eliminated with an Equal 13th place finish.
I’ve had to surf in so many different conditions. My first heat was emotional and it was huge to recover from that. I surfed three heats today and still feel like I could go again. I’m so stoked to be back amongst it competing and feeling good. It’s gone way better then what I could have planned. – Owen Wright.
2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina also earned his place in the Quarterfinals after dominating Round 4 Heat 4 against 11-time WSL Champion Kelly Slater and Conner Coffin. En route to his Quarterfinal placement, Medina looked in fine-form with an outstanding 19.00 heat total in Round 3 and a dominant 15.76 in Round 4.
The day concluded with elimination Round 4 of the Roxy Pro, where the women battled for a coveted spot in the Quarterfinals.
Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore will advance to the Quarterfinals after a nail-biting heat against current World No. 2 Courtney Conlogue. Conlogue came out the gates swinging with a near-perfect 9.50 to put early pressure on the local favorite. Gilmore answered back with an excellent 8.00 demonstrating control over the challenging conditions. In a battle for the backup scores, Conlogue got an edge with a 6.83, forcing Gilmore to post an 8.34 or higher. With only seconds on the clock, Gilmore threw down one last attempt and was awarded an 8.40, giving her just enough to take the win. Conlogue leaves the event with an Equal 9th place finish.
At the end of the day I basically gave myself one more chance. Rainbow Bay’s had my back this whole event and I’m lucky it opened up on the inside. Everyone’s so stoked on the beach, it’s awesome. The support on the beach when I ran up made me feel like I won the contest. There were kids that ran the whole way with me — it’s insane — and that’s why I love this place I call home. – Stephanie Gilmore.
After losing out early in Round 2 of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast last season, veteran Sally Fitzgibbons, from Australia, flew through Round 4 to claim her place in the Quarterfinals. 2017 CT Rookie Bronte Macaulay put up a strong fight against Fitzgibbons with powerful backhand snaps, but could not meet the requirement to advance.
Nikki Van Dijk will also advance through to the next round after taking out Coco Ho, from Hawaii, in Heat 1. Van Dijk exhibited great speed through the wind-chop to earn a 15.67 combined wave score. Ho, who fell short with a 14.94, will be eliminated from the event.
I’m really used to windy, raw conditions back home in Victoria. I felt right at home, but I couldn’t hear a thing with the wind. I didn’t know what my scoring waves were. I made a decision to take out a thicker board and it worked really well. I’m excited heading into finals day. – Nikki Van Dijk.
Quik Pro Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Matt Wilkinson vs. Joel Parkinson
QF 2: John John Florence vs. Italo Ferreira
QF 3: Connor O’Leary vs. Owen Wright
QF 4: Gabriel Medina vs. Kelly Slater
Roxy Pro Quarterfinal Match-Ups:
QF 1: Johanne Defay vs. Nikki Van Dijk
QF 2: Tyler Wright vs. Lakey Peterson
QF 3: Keely Andrew vs. Sally Fitzgibbons
QF 4: Carissa Moore vs. Stephanie Gilmore