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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Mon, 20 March 2017

The usual gripes, and epic 4-6' surf, launched the 2017 WSL tour yesterday with Aussies Owen Wright and Stephanie Gilmore taking the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast.

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TWO TO START: Gilmore and Wright celebrate their Gold Coast win. Photo WSL / Cestari

There was a bit of controversy on social media about the judging, with many gripes that Kelly Slater was under-judged in the quarters against Gabriel Medina. In their eighth head-to-head match-up, Medina earned his sixth win over Kelly after he was awarded a near-perfect 9.17 to Slater’s 7.50 on the deciding wave in the dying seconds.

The four-time event winner was eliminated with a 5th place result and everyone is egging him on to a 12th World Title. There were of course murmurs of bought judges and undue commercial influence wrought by the Brazilian storm. You know. The usual.

But either way, it was pretty good surf to kickstart the year, and the two Aussies take the Jeep Leaders’ Jersey heading into the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.


AUSSIE ATTACK: Gilmore played the consistency game. Photo WSL / Cestari

Wright claimed his third CT victory and his best result on the Gold Coast by defeating close friend Matt Wilkinson (AUS) in one of the most inspiring comebacks in surfing history. Wright sat out the entire 2016 season due to a traumatic brain injury suffered on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii in 2015. He accepted the injury wildcard for 2017, and won the first event. Inspiring.

Six-time WSL Champion Gilmore claimed her sixth Roxy Pro title after defeating Lakey Peterson (USA) to mark her 25th elite tour victory and her first since the Cascais Women’s Pro in 2014. The result will move Gilmore up from 6th to 1st on the Jeep Rankings.

“I can’t believe it, I’ve been visualizing holding that trophy so much,” Gilmore said. “It was so hard against Lakey [Peterson]. I’m so happy to have all the support from everyone here and there’s nothing better than winning at home.”


PETERSON POWER: Lakey ripped through the event with huge scores. Photo WSL / Cestari

For Wright, as recently as the start of February "I was sitting in the doctor’s office and there were question marks on the year,” Wright said. “There were a lot of fears I needed to push through to get back into the sport and back into what pretty much took me out, and could have taken me out forever. I kept going and kept doing it. I am just so stoked."

The final saw Wright take on Wilkinson in a thrilling battle of the goofy-footers wave for wave.

The final saw Wright take on Wilkinson in a thrilling battle of the goofy-footers wave for wave. Wright claimed the win with a 8.33 and 6.33 via his powerful backhand snaps. Wilko, with two 6-point rides, could not deliver the scores needed to defend his title. Wilko dispatched world champions Joel Parkinson (AUS) and John John Florence (HAW). The runner-up finish takes him to 2nd on the Jeep Leaderboard.

“To be in another Final here is a dream,” said Wilkinson. “I obviously wanted to win but Owen [Wright] has made me cry about five times this week. To see him last year was one of the toughest things and for Owen to be in this event is one of the most amazing things, but to go and win is incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to beat me. Coming into the event this year I did have a sneaky bit of confidence ... I feel a lot more confident and I feel like my surfing is the best it’s ever been so I’m really excited to go for the World Title.”


WRIGHT SIDE: As the injury wildcard for 2017, it was a special result. Photo WSL / Cestari

He will have to watch out for Florence though. He only narrowly beat the 2016 WSL Champion by a 0.40 margin in the semi. Florence’s 3rd place is his best result on the Gold Coast and scarily for the others, his most successful start to a CT season. Florence will go into the next event ranked 3rd on the Jeep Leaderboard.

Wright took out 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) in an intense Semifinal match-up. Compared to his 13th place result last season, Medina’s 3rd place finish offers a strong start to his 2017 World Title campaign.

Gilmore previously dispatched three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in the Quarterfinals with a perfect 10-point ride and compatriot Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in the Semifinals. Moore, who came into the event ranked third in the world, will move to fifth. Fitzgibbons’ Semifinal berth will see her third on the Jeep Leaderboard.

In the final Peterson got to work early, posting two mid-range scores, but local favorite Gilmore kicked things off with a commanding 7.93 on her opening ride before some big fin-throws and sharp turns earned 8.67. The Californian could not answer. This final marks the pair’s fourth head-to-head match-up, with Gilmore taking the win each time.

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WILLING WILKO: Wilkinson was proud that his mate won the event. Photo WSL / Cestari

Peterson had been ripping, with consistent high scores including a perfect 10 in Round 2 and the two highest heat totals. Peterson beat Johanne Defay (FRA) in the Semifinals and reigning WSL Champion and defending event winner Tyler Wright (AUS) in the Quarterfinals. With one event win so far during her six year career on the CT, at the US Open of Surfing in 2012, today is her best result at Snapper Rocks. She made the Semifinals in 2014 where she was defeated by Bianca Buitendag (ZAF).

She made the Semifinals in 2014 where she was defeated by Bianca Buitendag

“I’m so stoked the waves worked out as well, we got pumping surf for this event. To compete against Stephanie [Gilmore] here gives me chills and is one to remember. Margaret River is a big shift, but I’m excited this year,” Peterson continued. “I feel pretty comfortable in the bigger stuff now so I hope we get some waves.”

Reigning WSL Champion and defending event winner Tyler Wright (AUS) was eliminated by Peterson in the Quarterfinals. Wright, with a 9.93 two-wave combined score, could not find the waves to escape Peterson’s near-perfect 9.27 and 7.83. Wright’s 5th place result will move her from first to 5th on the Jeep Leaderboard heading into the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. Highlights and more information available at www.WorldSurfLeague.com - the next stop is the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in Western Australia from March 29 to April 9.

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KELLY ROBBED?: A lot of people think so. A lot don't. Photo WSL / Cestari

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Final Results
1 - Owen Wright (AUS) 14.66
2 - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.50

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Semifinal Results (1st to SF, 2nd = 5th)
SF 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.90 def. John John Florence (HAW) 15.50
SF 2: Owen Wright (AUS) 15.74 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 10.44

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Quarterfinal Results (1st to SF, 2nd = 5th):
QF 1: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.00 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.37
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 14.86 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.33
QF 3: Owen Wright (AUS) 13.00 def. Connor O'Leary (AUS) 11.76
QF 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.34 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 13.83

2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast):
1 - Owen Wright (AUS) 10,000 pts
2 - Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 8,000 pts
3 - John John Florence (HAW) 6,500 pts
3 - Gabriel Medina (BRA) 6,500 pts

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Final Results
1 - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.60
2 - Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.66

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Semifinal Results (1st, 2nd)
SF 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 18.60 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.70
SF 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.27 def. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.86

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Quarterfinal Results (1st to SF, 2nd = 5th)
QF 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.44 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.50
QF 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 17.10 def. Tyler Wright (AUS) 9.93
QF 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.00 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 13.63
QF 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.50 def. Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.83

2017 WSL Women’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Roxy Pro Gold Coast)
1 - Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10,000 pts
2 - Lakey Peterson (USA) 8,000 pts
3 - Johanne Defay (FRA) 6,500 pts
3 - Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 6,500 pts

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