Like the first day of school, all the boys and girls of the ASP World Tour showed up for Day 1 of the Quiksilver Pro and Roxy Pro buzzing with energy renewed, adorned in bright new outfits, an air of exuberance about them that couldn't help but bubble over onto the playground. But did we learn anything?
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
In short, yes. Firstly, last year's frontrunners are this year's frontrunners. And it's not just based on the fact that Kelly Slater, Jordy Smith, Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson all won their respective Round 1 heats. Moreover, it was the way they did it. In mediocre conditions, collectively the group teed up the highest wave scores and highest heat scores of the day.
In essence, they've set the bar for the rest of the event. Julian Wilson, Matty Wilkinson, Owen Wright, and Josh Kerr, all touted as ushers of the progressive movement, were all heat winners too, but none were able to push their scores up into the excellent range like the old dogs. Maybe it's the open, running faces of Snapper versus more puntable sections that you might find at D-Bah. Maybe it's just experience and understanding the judging criteria better. Whatever the case, last year's top four surfers averaged two more points per heat than the Wilson, Wilko, Wright, and Kerr combo, which could be a significant indicator as things start tightening up later in the event.
We also now have conclusive evidence that Mick Fanning is indeed the fastest surfer on tour, and not just by a couple ticks. White Lighting does donuts around everybody. With Quik Pro organizers implementing a GPS speed check for the first time in competitive history, Fanning was clocked at 39.1 km/h while the closest competitor -- Bede Durbidge of all people (who says big guys can't get up and go in small surf?) -- came in at 33.6 km/h. Slater was third at 32 km/h. I'm still trying to figure out how this trivial stat factors in to anything or what difference it makes, but three of the five fastest surfers of the day won their heats, so maybe there's something to it.
We also learned that eventually karma's gonna get ya. Maybe that's a mean thing to say, but Jeremy Flores was forced to withdraw from the event at the last minute after suffering a knee injury while warming up at Snapper the afternoon before the contest began. This comes on the heals of the highly publicized incident last week involving Flores, Sunny Garcia, a prickish Burleigh local, and a newscaster woman who used the term "agro fisticuffs" to describe what happened. Luckily there was another Frenchman handy as 20-year-old world junior champ Marc Lacomare was present to pick up the wildcard ... he didn't advance.
And other than that, you may have noticed that sponsors seem to have been sufficiently shuffled over the winter. Damien Hobgood joins Durbidge on Fox, Dan Ross picked up Patagonia, Tiago Pires jumped from Billabong to Quik, and then there's Julian Wilson and Alejo Muniz with their swooshes. All are pretty big deals for these thoroughbreds, and maybe this influx of marketing dollars means the surf business is starting to see some recovery.
Up next is Round 2, we'll be there to make the call when it happens.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1:Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.26, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.44, Heitor Alves (BRA) 6.57
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.67, Gabe Kling (USA) 12.27, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.03
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.03, Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.57, Cory Lopez (USA) 7.90
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.67, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 9.17, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.10
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.07, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 10.37, Mitch Crews (AUS) 11.07
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.93, Matt Banting (AUS) 11.34, Kai Otton (AUS) 6.70
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.83, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.46, Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.60
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.70, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 9.87, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.77
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00, Adriano de Souza (BRA), Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.20
Heat 10: Daniel Ross (AUS), 13.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.10, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 7.43
Heat 11: Adam Melling (AUS) 11.40, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.13, Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.73
Heat 12: Tiago Pires (PRT) 15.83, Jadson Andre (BRA)12.70, Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.77
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Matt Banting (AUS)
Heat 2: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Mitch Crews (AUS)
Heat 3: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Marc Lacomare (FRA)
Heat 4: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 5: Chris Davidson (AUS) vs. Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 6: Jadson Andre (BRA) vs. Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 7: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 8: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 9: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Kai Otton (AUS)
Heat 10: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 11: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW)
Heat 12: Heitor Alves (BRA) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 13.37, Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.00, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 10.86
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.10, Pauline Ado (FRA) 13.83, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 8.30
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.96, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.26, Sarah Mason (NZL) 6.36
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.03, Laura Enever (AUS) 11.83, Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) 10.36
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.00, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 7.43, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 6.84
Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW) 14.66, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.80, Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 8.16
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Rebecca Woods (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 2: Paige Hareb (NZL) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Sarah Mason (NZL)
Heat 4: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) vs. Claire Bevilacqua (AUS)
Heat 5: Chelsea Hedges (AUS) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 6: Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)