Smith and McGillivray Through

Wednesday 21 March 2017 Despite windblown wave chunks, both South Africans Jordy Smith and Matthew McGillivray advanced after mixed results in the opening round of the )( Hurley Pro Sunset Beach.

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BACKHAND BOMB: Portugeuse star Teresa Bonvalot drops into a chunky one. Photo WSL / Cestari

The second day of the second stop on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT), saw the completion of the men’s Opening Round 1 and Elimination Round 2 in unruly, challenging surf at the North Shore's iconic spot after a crankoing 10-12ft opening day.

In the last seconds of their matchup, Smith had an opportunity to overtake Tour veteran Kolohe Andino (USA) in his Opening Round heat, but came up short by just half a point. Making his milestone 100th CT event appearance, Andino’s top-scoring wave was one he found under priority, landing a throw-tail reverse to earn a 6.00. Andino and Smith advanced to the Round of 32, while current World No. 2 Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) was sent to the Elimination Round.

The day’s action concluded with former Rookie of the Year Nat Young (USA) earning an important heat win over Matthew McGillivray (RSA) and Maxime Huscenot (FRA). Young posted a near-perfect 7.50, destroying the lip with his powerful backhand. McGillivray was happy to survive the Elimination Round and improve on his early loss at Pipeline last week, while rookie Huscenot was eliminated.

Maui’s Ian Gentil was calm and collected in his Elimination Round matchup after his Opening Round loss earlier in the day. Gentil showcased his signature power surfing to put himself comfortably in the lead over wildcard Keanu Asing (HAW) and Connor O'Leary (AUS). In the last minute of the heat, Gentil cemented his win by smashing a critical inside section to post the highest heat score of the day, a 7.67.

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CUTBACK KING: When Jordy throws his weight into a turn, there's some spray. Photo WSL / Cestari

Brazil's Yago Dora put on a show-stopping performance during the Opening Round in Heat 10. He utilized his explosive backhand to kick off his heat with a commendable 6.17. He then tracked down a left and demonstrated his aerial antics, throwing a frontside rotation to earn a 6.83. Dora ultimately took the heat win, with Callum Robson (AUS) advancing alongside him and Rio Waida being sent to the Elimination Round.

“This morning when I was surfing, I thought to myself, this is Sunset Beach, I have to ride a longer board and go right and do big turns,” said Dora. “But looking at it, this doesn’t feel like real Sunset Beach. It looks like a beach break out there, and I’m going to approach it like a beach break. But, I’m grateful to be doing the season from the start this year, and I really missed it when I was back home on the couch watching it, so it’s amazing.”

Three-time World Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) started his second event of the season in good form, winning his Opening Round matchup. Medina adapted brilliantly to the conditions, throwing vertical turns, holding his speed, and getting the heat win. Australia’s Ryan Callinan was able to maintain his lead over fellow Australian O’Leary by a narrow margin and advance alongside Medina.

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ABOVE AND BELOW: Carissa Moore is on a roll after her huge win at Pipeline. Photo WSL / Cestari

“That was fun, it’s not the Sunset Beach we know, but I’m happy to get a heat win and I just tried to catch waves,” said Medina. “Billy Kemper is a guy that knows this wave really well, and he told me to just catch waves. I don’t spend a lot of time here at Sunset Beach, so I asked him for some tips, and it worked out. Every time I’m in Hawaii, I pretty much use Tokoro surfboards. He’s a shaper I really like to use while I’m here, and I definitely feel more comfortable on his boards."

After an Opening Round loss, current World No. 1 Jack Robinson (AUS) found himself in unfamiliar territory, surfing for survival in the first Elimination Round. Fellow Australian Baker looked comfortable under pressure and maintained the lead during the slow heat. At the halfway mark, Robinson was still without a score and facing potential elimination. But Robinson finally found his rhythm, earning a 5.67 and taking second place over wildcard Kai Lenny (HAW).

In a shocking finish to Elimination Round, Heat 3 Ezekiel Lau suffered an interference penalty on Waida in the dying seconds of the heat. The interference caused Lau’s top score to go to zero, dropping him from first place to third. With the new situation, Fioravanti took the heat win with Waida advancing in second and forcing Lau's elimination.

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