A day for rookies and roughies as the surf finally arrives
SAN CLEMENTE, California/USA (Wednesday, September 13, 2017) - The Hurley Pro and Swatch Pro at Trestles witnessed exciting action today with the completion of women’s Round 3, men’s Round 3, and the first two heats of men's Round 4. The world’s best surfers battled in three-to-five foot surf for the opportunity to continue in Stops No. 8 and 7 of the Men’s and Women’s World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT).
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) punched her ticket to an eighth-straight Quarterfinal appearance of 2017 after taking down current No. 7 on the Jeep Leaderboard Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) and CT sophomore Keely Andrew (AUS). Fitzgibbons attacked a Lowers righthander with aggressive turns for a 7.50 (out of a possible 10) before backing it up with a 6.00. Only Van Dijk looked to pose a threat, posting a 7.17, but couldn’t find the backup she needed. Both Van Dijk and Andrew will contest in Round 4 for a chance to move into the Quarters.
“I really enjoyed watching the heats yesterday and got that freesurf in,” Fitzgibbons said. “It just gets all that energy going for me in the morning and I really look forward to it. It feels good being in this position and knowing there’s a lot of surfing left in the tank. I can’t wait to open up on some more walls. To get that opportunity in the Quarters is great so I’ll keep enjoying the surfing and getting inspired before I get back out there.”
World No. 6 Sage Erickson (USA) continued her impeccable form with yet another heat win at the Swatch Pro. Erickson overtook current World No. 3, Courtney Conlogue (USA) and French competitor Pauline Ado (FRA) in Round 3 Heat 4 for her fourth-consecutive Quarterfinal berth this season.
“I’ve always believed in myself, but I never necessarily believed in my ability at this level, and this year I do,” Erickson said. “Coming into heats with big names, I don’t care who’s in my heat anymore. I feel like I’m surfing well and that’s what matters when you’re getting scored by the judges. There definitely is a fire to compete against Courtney [Conlogue]. Her opening round heats were incredible. She is just so progressive and fluid. I’m sticking to my strengths and trusting my ability, and also having a lot of fun in the jersey. I always felt up against the wall in certain moves I was doing just because of technique, but being more fit and eating better, those are the things that are considered work in our sport.”
The Hurley Pro got back underway with Round 3 elimination battles and massive performances, including 9-point rides from Jeep Leaderboard No. 1 Jordy Smith (ZAF) and No. 2 John John Florence (HAW). Action continued into the opening two heats of Round 4 where the first Quarterfinalists were determined.
2015 WSL Champion and current No. 6 Adriano de Souza (BRA), who has yet to drop a heat at the Hurley Pro, stacked up two more big wins today in Rounds 3 and 4. The Brazilian took down Jadson Andre (BRA) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW) in non-elimination Round 4 and will advance straight to the Quarterfinals. Earlier today, the current World No. 6 also bested CT veteran Josh Kerr (AUS) in a tight heat to kick off Round 3.
“I’ve just been thinking hard and trying to get out of Round 3,” De Souza said. “The last few events have been a big learning curve for me. I’ve put in a thousand percent and everything I can and finally found the rhythm, so I’m happy to make it out of that one. I was pretty happy to choose the best waves in that last heat. I was a little worried about the skills of Jadson [Andre], so I just tried hard to use priority wisely and pick the wave I wanted to change my low score. I’m stoked to make it to the Quarterfinals.”
2017 CT Rookie Frederico Morais (PRT) showed he’s ready to add another big result to his 2017 Rookie of the Year campaign after phenomenal performances en route to his Quarterfinal berth, his third of 2017. Morias took down defending event winner Smith and CT veteran Adrian Buchan (AUS) in non-elimination Round 4, as well as fellow rookie Ezekiel Lau (HAW) in Round 3. The CT freshman posted excellent 8-point rides throughout the day and will be one to watch in the Quarterfinals.
“I feel like I belong here after working really hard all my life to get to this level and I really want to stay,” Morais said. “It’s really similar to home here with good righthanders and I’m feeling good, so it’s just a mix of things that make me feel at home. I knew he was going to be a really tough opponent. He’s been surfing amazing here all week and our styles are kind of similar with power surfing, hard carves with big sprays. I won this one, but there’s still so much to come here.”
In an all-Brazilian battle, Andre eliminated 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) in another massive event upset. Current No. 7 on the Jeep Leaderboard, Medina, will leave Lowers with his third 13th place finish this season. The Brazilian superstar earned strong, top-three finishes in J-Bay and Tahiti, but was not able to find the results in California. Medina will now look to the Quiksilver Pro France to reboot his comeback.
“I thought Gabriel’s [Medina] first wave was an 8.50, so when I caught that first right, I surfed it really angry,” said Andre. “Things just went my way and I have such a good board under my feet, and I’m really calm. I’m really back on the ratings so there’s not much I can do except just surf and try to eliminate mistakes. I feel like that’s been my weakness this year. I feel like I’m surfing really well, but those mistakes are what is costing heats for me. I’m stoked to win that heat and beat him, especially here at Lowers.”
Despite losing in non-elimination Round 4 to Morais, Smith solidified a big Round 3 victory over wildcard threat Evan Geiselman (USA). Defending event winner Smith earned the second highest heat total, an 18.94, with his laser sharp forehand turns. The South African will need to win his Round 5 heat in order to keep the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey and remain in the competition.
“I came here straight after Tahiti and I’ve just been really enjoying it a lot, and testing my equipment a lot as well,” Smith said. “Before Tahiti, it was pretty go, go, go for me -- obviously South Africa was really intense with all the tens and sharks, and everything. When I got back here I just took a moment to regroup, recover, and then get fired back up for the backend of this year. [After getting that stomach flu], I lost a couple of kilos, but it worked out with the waves being really fun out here and I’m just frothing.”
Current No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard John John Florence (HAW) put the pressure on wildcard Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) just minutes into their Round 3 heat with a near-perfect 9.27. Florence took to his backhand and soared on a massive, full rotation to begin the heat before finding a backup score midway through the heat to accrue a 13.61 heat total over Ohhara. The Japanese competitor’s patience earned him a Lowers gem, where he unleashed strong snaps for a 7.00 to put himself back in the heat. The reigning WSL Champion showed his world-class talent and shut the door on Ohhara with a 9.87, and near-perfect heat total of 19.07, to cap off an amazing performance and advance to Round 4.
“I always try to go into a heat thinking of freesurfing with a little bit of strategy thrown in," Florence said. “I’m having the most fun when I’m freesurfing and lately I’ve been really enjoying heats. It’s been super great [working with Ross Williams], we’ve been working on so many little things from boards to technique, everything I got and it’s great because we only live a few houses away from each other so we meet up a lot when we’re at home. Our whole crew gets along well together, which is a big positive. Round 3 is always a scary one in any event, especially when the waves are like this, -- it’s pretty much whoever gets those bigger sets it seems like.”
Current World No. 5 Julian Wilson (AUS) also advanced on to Round 4 after an incredible performance that saw him eliminate rookie Ethan Ewing (AUS) in their Round 3 battle. Wilson powered his way to a commanding 17.44 heat total that left the 2017 rookie in a combination situation that Ewing was unable to attain.
Earlier today, Sebastian Zeitz (HAW) showcased his authority at Lowers in Round 3 with a 9.43 on a beautiful righthander that allowed him numerous opportunities to unload powerful maneuvers and dispatch 2015 WSL Rookie of the Year Italo Ferreira (BRA) in Round 3. Unfortunately, Zietz will have to deal with Round 5 after De Souza’s performance in Round 4.
Filipe Toledo (BRA) got to work in his Round 3 heat with his signature flair and aggressive turns and posted an excellent 16.93 heat total over fellow Brazilian Miguel Pupo (BRA). Toledo continues to push the bar of progressive surfing alongside Florence and moves on to Round 4 with plenty of momentum.
2017 CT Rookie Joan Duru (FRA) was on the hunt for a result and found himself in a wave-for-wave battle with Bede Durbidge (AUS) to start off Round 3 Heat 11. It was the more experienced Durbidge who earned the nod with an 8.93 to Duru’s 8.17 and then backed it up with a near-perfect 9.50 to put the heat out of reach for the Frenchman and send him home in equal 13th place.
Duru’s fellow countryman Jeremy Flores (FRA) also joins the stacked list of competitors heading into Round 4 after a critical performance over an in-form Conner Coffin (USA), which witnessed the two trade off excellent scores. Flores racked up the higher of the heat totals with a 16.47 and eliminated Coffin, who will leave Lowers with an equal 13th.
Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Mick Fanning (AUS) will begin tomorrow’s action in a re-surf of their Round 3 battle after a situation involving the new blocking rule came into play at the start of their heat.
Kieren Perrow, WSL Commissioner, explained the new rule and situation.
“Following the Tahiti event, the WSL introduced a new blocking rule that goes into effect in non-priority situations at the start of heats. The rule is in place to prevent non-productive hassling at the start of heats and encourage more surfing.
“There was a blocking situation at the start of Mick and Kanoa's Round 3 heat in which Kanoa paddled, preventing Mick from taking the wave. Unfortunately, the blocking situation was under review immediately following (whereby it was determined Kanoa should have lost priority), when Kanoa took off on a wave which affected the outcome of the heat.
“After reviewing with our officials and discussion with both surfers, we will be re-surfing the heat first thing in the morning.”
Swatch Pro Remaining Round 3 (H3-4) Results:
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.50, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 12.04, Keely Andrew (AUS) 4.10
Heat 4: Sage Erickson (USA) 14.40, Pauline Ado (FRA) 12.74, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.40
Hurley Pro Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.77 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 12.03
Heat 2: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 16.76 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 7.04
Heat 3: Jadson Andre (BRA) 15.76 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.80
Heat 4: Frederico Morais (PRT) 16.76 def. Ezekiel Lau (HAW) 15.50
Heat 5: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.50 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 10.93
Heat 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 18.84 def. Evan Geiselman (USA) 14.83
Heat 7: John John Florence (HAW) 19.07 def. Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) 13.33
Heat 8: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 16.47 def. Conner Coffin (USA) 15.60
Heat 9: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS) UPCOMING
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.93 def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.86
Heat 11: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 18.43 def. Joan Duru (FRA) 14.50
Heat 12: Julian Wilson (AUS) 17.44 def. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 12.87
Hurley Pro Remaining Round 3 (H9) Match-Up:
Heat 9: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) vs. Mick Fanning (AUS) UPCOMING
Hurley Pro Round 4 (H1-2) Results:
Heat 1: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.80, Jadson Andre (BRA) 16.07, Sebastian Zeitz (HAW) 11.37
Heat 2: Frederico Morais (PRT) 17.17, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.30, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 16.10