Ladies business as usual
Steph Gilmore, Carissa Moore, and Tyler Wright electrified fans and judges alike on the opening day of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast at 3 to 4-foot Snapper Rocks. The usual suspects posted the biggest scores on Saturday, but the kickoff to the 2012 ASP Women's World Tour was anything but stale.
With tidal shifts and a bit of chop early in the day, wave selection was vital. Having a choice of waves at Snapper is so unusual it could actually be disorienting, but Hawaiian rookie Malia Manuel had no problem picking off the good ones and topping Tour vets Courtney Conlogue and Silvana Lima in the first heat.
Australian Tyler Wright pulled a vertical hack nanoseconds before the start of heat two on wave that would earn her heaps of respect but zero points. California's Lakey Peterson, another hungry rookie, immediately punched back with a series of snaps. The battle raged as Wright smashed the lip and Peterson flashed her fins. Wright's smooth and stylish combinations ultimately proved lethal. She netted the highest heat total of the day, a 17.70, and as it turned out, that first wave would have been superfluous.
Current women's world champion and last year's event winner, Carissa Moore, took heat three over equally matched Aussies Rebecca Woods and Moskova wildcard Philippa Anderson. Both Woods and Anderson scored 11.33 totals. It was anyone's game for a while, as Moore trailed Woods and Anderson was in a combination situation. Anderson caught up with Woods after a succession of elegant turns, and Moore slipped into the lead, as she tends to do.
"I'm excited I got the first heat out of the way," said Moore. "It was a little nerve-wracking, I have to admit, but the waves are actually really fun. I guess I get to skip out on round two, which is nice."
2011 World Title runner-up Sally Fitzgibbons took it to her Kiwi competitors Paige Hareb and Sarah Mason in heat four and advanced straight to the third round with a 14.64.
"I felt pretty good going into that one," said Fitzgibbons. "It's the top of the tide, so not too many high scores on offer, and I just made the most of it. You rarely get this break to yourself, so to have the option of any wave you want is a bit testing. You want to go any wave you see. It's just about building from here. I can't wait for round three."
Four-time world title winner Steph Gilmore was the second and last female surfer of the day to breach the 9.0 barrier. American rookie Sage Erickson definitely didn't buckle under the former champ's applied pressure, as her 13.70 placed her a hair behind Gilmore's 14.33. Gilmore looked strong and comfortable at her home break.
"I just love surfing Snapper with no one out," said Gilmore. "It's literally one of the best things in the world." "There are a lot of waves, but a lot of fat ones, so you can get busy and catch a lot of waves, but you might only have one maneuver each wave. So it's really important to have that knowledge of which ones to pick. I think living here and growing up here has sort of helped me to achieve that."
Surfing consistently in the "good" range, Peru's Sofia Mulanovich claimed the sixth and final heat of the day over powerhouse Hawaiian Coco Ho and graceful Brazilian Jacqueline Silva.Contest officials will reconvene tomorrow to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start. The Roxy Pro continues at Roxylive.com. ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:
HEAT 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) 10.24, Silvana Lima (BRA) 8.73, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 8.10
HEAT 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.70, Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.26, Pauline Ado (FRA) 7.33
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.73, Rebecca Woods (AUS) 11.33, Philippa Anderson (AUS) 11.33
HEAT 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.64, Paige Hareb (NZL) 10.10, Sarah Mason (NZL) 7.94
HEAT 5: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.33, Sage Erickson (USA) 13.70, Laura Enever (AUS) 6.40
HEAT 6: Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12.73, Coco Ho (HAW) 12.13, Jacqueline Silva (BRA) 7.54