The first women’s event of the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, kicked off today in two-to-three foot (1 metre) conditions at the world-famous Snapper Rocks located on the Gold Coast of Australia. The event witnessed fiery exchanges and intense action as the women set out to win their Round 1 exchanges, setting the tone for this event and the 2017 season.
Tyler Wright (AUS), reigning WSL Champion and defending event winner, was not able to advance out of Round 1 as compatriot Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) blazed through the heat with an incredible 15.16, the highest heat score of the day. Van Dijk opened up her season with excellent 8.83 and a solid 6.33 to take the win over Wright and Trials winner Alyssa Lock (AUS). Wright will face her first elimination heat of the season in Round 2.
“My aim was to start off strong and to build on a solid base,” Van Dijk said. “The tide is getting really low, which is making it tricky, but the swell is supposed to be picking up over the next few days so I am excited to see what it will bring. I am focusing on myself, but it definitely feels good to beat the current World Champion. I am stoked to come out on top, and I am ready for Round 3.”
Three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) dominated her Round 1 match-up against Coco Ho (HAW) and Laura Enever (AUS). Battling through difficult conditions, Moore posted an 11.10 combined score to take the win and advance to Round 3. Ho and Enever will surf again in elimination Round 2.
“That definitely wasn’t the best heat of my life,” said Moore. “I was pretty nervous coming into that heat. The first heat of the year is always a stressful one so I’m glad to come out on top. It’s good to be back on the road. I am feeling super prepared after a lot of training in the off-season.”
Courtney Conlogue (USA), 2016 Roxy Pro Gold Coast runner-up, launched her 2017 World Title campaign with a critical Round 1 win over Pauline Ado (FRA) and CT veteran Silvana Lima (BRA). The nail-biting heat saw Conlogue barely edge out returning CT competitors Ado and Lima, who rejoined the CT this season after earning Top 6 finishes on the WSL Qualifying Series rankings.
“I’ve been here training for a month now so feel like I had a lot of knowledge of this wave to pull from,” Conlogue said. “It was a long offseason with a few adjustments in my routine and equipment. It was good to put those tweaks to the test in a heat situation. It was good heat and Silvana [Lima] put up a good fight as always, so I’m stoked to come away with the win.”
The opening heat of the season saw Australian challenger Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) defeat Johanne Defay (FRA) and 2016 Rookie of the Year Keely Andrew (AUS). Despite her recent win at the Newcastle Surfest and a runner-up finish at the Australian Open of Surfing, Defay struggled to find a rhythm in her opening CT heat. Andrew looked set for the win until CT stalwart Fitzgibbons came from behind in the dying seconds to take the heat win.
“It feels amazing to win my first heat back in 2017 especially in that way,” Fitzgibbons said. “It was pretty tricky out there so you have to make the most of you opportunities when they come. Over the offseason, I was really falling back in love with surfing a lot of places at home and reconnecting with those spots I’m so familiar with. This is my ninth season on the CT, but I’m feeling as fresh as ever and ready for a big 2017.”
Although this is not Tatiana Weston-Webb’s (HAW) first competitive appearance for 2017, the goofy-footer was feeling the heat when she paddled out in Heat 2 of Round 1. Weston-Webb came up against 2017 WSL Rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS) and Californian Sage Erickson (USA) in her opening match-up and looked unstoppable. Weston-Webb, who posted a 13.34 heat total, will advance to Round 3, while Macaulay and Erickson are sent to Round 2.
“I’m feeling really good at the moment,” said Weston-Webb. “I feel like I am surfing the best I ever have. I started the year off with a couple of QS events and didn’t get the results I was after, but was really inspired by seeing Jesse [Mendes] win at Manly. The two of us seem to really draw inspiration from each other, which is awesome. We have actually been talking more about about heats and strategy, which is new for us but seems to be working.”
Following the completion of Round 1 Heat 5, event organizers called competition off for the day due to deteriorating conditions and the onset of Blue Bottle Jellyfish in the lineup. Event organizers will reconvene at 7:00 a.m. local time tomorrow to reassess the conditions and make the next call.
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.80, Keely Andrew (AUS) 13.33, Johanne Defay (FRA) 10.57
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (AUS) 13.43, Sage Erickson (USA) 9.70, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 7.93
Heat 3: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 15.16, Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.30, Alyssa Lock (AUS) 9.94
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 12.90, Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.23, Silvana Lima (BRA) 12.17
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.10, Coco Ho (HAW) 5.67, Laura Enever (AUS) 2.43