Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast to Open 2018 WSL CT Season Tomorrow
COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS (Saturday, March 10, 2018) - The World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) season is set to kick off tomorrow on the Gold Coast of Australia with the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro. The competition window runs through March 22, 2018 and features the world’s best surfers returning to the sport’s elite stage after the two-month offseason.
2017 was one of the WSL’s most unpredictable seasons in history, with nine different men’s CT winners out of 11 events, and eight different women’s winners out of 10 events. Now, the highly-anticipated Snapper event will see a clean slate for the competitors' season start.
The final spots in the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro draws were decided today by the Trials in an exciting day of action where 16 men and 12 women put it all on the line for the final spot in the season’s opening events. The women’s Trials winner was former CT surfer Bianca Buitendag (ZAF).
“It’s a great feeling to know I will be in the Roxy Pro Gold Coast,” Buitendag said. “I’ve been in this event and done well here in the past. It’s probably my favorite event in the world and the surf forecast looks good. I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Buitendag will come up against defending WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) and Malia Manuel (HAW) in Round 1 Heat 3 of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast. Wright previously won the Roxy Pro Gold Coast in 2016 with a new strategy and approach to her competitive game. Since then, the Australian has demonstrated a laser-sharp focus that has earned her two consecutive WSL World Titles. Wright, who wears the Jeep Leader Jersey heading into this event, will fight for another quick start this year to maintain the top spot on the Jeep Leaderboard and separate herself from World No. 2 Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).
"The first event of the year is always exciting,” Wright said. “There are definitely nerves, but they're good nerves. A lot of us have either done Newcastle or Manly, so we're ready to go here at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast and most of those nerves have settled. The forecast is looking good, so we [might] get some good waves, maybe even a few behind the rock at Snapper. I’m pumped to see how everything unfolds and see how everyone is looking after the offseason."
Gilmore, a six-time WSL Champion, heads into the 2018 season after a big win at the Maui Women’s Pro last year. She has six event wins at her home break and her friends, family and fans will be on the beach cheering her on for a seventh win this week. The Australian is one of only three women to earn a Perfect 10 on the Gold Coast since 2008, including Silvana Lima (BRA) in 2015 and Lakey Peterson (USA) last season.
“To be able to spend the first event at home, just 300 meters from my house is fantastic,” said Gilmore. “I put a lot of my success on Tour down to the fact that I have this event at home and the longer I’m on Tour, the more I appreciate how lucky I am.”
Peterson is eager to surpass her 2017 runner-up result at the Roxy Pro. Peterson is one of the most consistent high-scoring surfers on Tour and continues to push performance boundaries in the competitive space. The Californian will face Johanne Defay (FRA) and 2018 CT Rookie Caroline Marks (USA) in the first heat of Round 1.
In her first event as a full-time CT competitor, Marks is eager to jumpstart her CT career at Snapper against Defay and Peterson. The 16-year-old is the youngest surfer ever to qualify for the elite tour and will look for a breakthrough result in the season opener.
The Final of the men’s Trials was a star-studded affair with, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Sheldon Simkus (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS) and Reef Heazlewood (AUS) fighting tooth and nail for the hottest ticket in town - a spot in Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro. In the end, it was Fioravanti who took the top spot. Even after snapping his board on his first wave, the young Italian swam in, retrieved his backup board and was able to post an 8.33 and 6.43 to take the win.
“This means so much to me!” Fioravanti said. “This is our first event without Pierre (Agnes) and I wanted to be here for him and I know that he would be proud of me today. I’m really excited to be in the main event, it’s my sponsor Quiksilver’s event and I hope I can make do well here.”
Fioravanti will be up against 2014 WSL Champion and 2014 event winner, Gabriel Medina (BRA), and Italo Ferreira (BRA) in Round 1 Heat 5. Medina finished runner-up on the Jeep world rankings last season after a Pipe showdown against John John Florence (HAW). The Brazilian earned third place at this event last year after falling to defending event winner Owen Wright (AUS) in the Semifinals. Medina has been training hard this year and is ready for the season to start.
"I'm feeling really good about this year,” said Medina. “I felt like I was surfing really well last year and picked up momentum through the end of the season. I've had a good offseason and am ready for Snapper to start. The World Title is always the goal."
Quiksilver wildcard Mikey Wright (AUS) will face two-time WSL Champion Florence and rookie Griffin Colapinto (USA) in Heat 6 of the Quiksilver Pro. Similar to Medina, Florence also fell in the Semifinals last year to earn a third-place result. Now, he is back wearing the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey as the top seed on Tour.
“My main goal coming into this year is to win another World Title,” Florence said. “I also want to make sure I really enjoy every part of the season and continue to learn more about myself and my surfing. I want my surfing to keep getting better and it definitely can. I haven’t won here on the Gold Coast, which adds to my hunger.”
Rookies Colapinto, Jesse Mendes (BRA), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Tomas Hermes (BRA), Yago Dora (BRA), Willian Cardoso (BRA), and Michael Rodrigues (BRA) will look to make a splash as they surf in their CT debuts when competition gets underway.
The Juraki Challenge has become a special tradition on Trials Day at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast. It sees local Indigenous surfers team up with the world’s best for two heats of team surfing action directly following on from the Welcome to Country ceremony. Young Indigenous surfers had their dreams come true as they hit the surf at empty Snapper Rocks with Florence, Joel Parkinson (AUS), Mick Fanning (AUS), Medina, Moore, Wright, Gilmore and Keely Andrew (AUS).
13-year-old Julung Slabb took the win on the men’s side with partner Florence, the two-time WSL Champion.
“I can’t wait to tell my schoolmates that I was surfing with John John,” said Slabb. “To win is great, but just being out in the water with some friends and the best surfers in the world was amazing.”
“The Juraki Challenge is so much fun!” Florence said. “We compete for ourselves all year so when we get the chance to get involved with local surfers and local community events like this it means a lot to us. We had fun out there and I was asking for him on tips for where to sit to get the best waves.”
Jalaan Slabb, who is also 13, took the win with Moore, the three-time WSL Champion.
“This is my second time surfing in the Juraki Challenge and it’s a highlight of my year,” said Jalaan Slabb, cousin of the male winner and Moore’s teammate in the event. “To surf with the professionals and celebrate my culture is a really special feeling, and I hope I get to do it again.”
“There was a lot of water moving out there and I thought I would need to help her, but she scored a great wave and didn’t need me,” Moore said. “It was so great to share the lineup with these local surfers, they had big smiles on their faces and it’s a great reminder to us that this is what surfing is all about.”
Event organizers will convene tomorrow morning at 6:30 a.m. AEST for a potential 7:00 a.m. start.
Surfline, WSL forecast partner, is calling for:
Mid size SE tradesswell and moderate to breezy sideshore wind prevails Sunday, with easing surf and lighter wind likely on Monday. Mid period E swell from Cyclone Hola looks increasingly likely for Tuesday, with light wind possible in the morning. A separate low/cyclone may set up more swell for Wed-Thu, although we’re low confidence on the details at this point.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 1: Owen Wright (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Ezekiel Lau (HAW)
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Michael Rodrigues (BRA)
Heat 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Conner Coffin (USA), Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 4: Julian Wilson (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA), Ian Gouveia (BRA)
Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA)
Heat 6: John John Florence (HAW), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Mikey Wright (AUS)
Heat 7: Kolohe Andino (USA), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA), Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 10: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Frederico Morais (PRT), Tomas Hermes (BRA)
Heat 11: Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Connor O’Leary (AUS), Wade Carmichael (AUS)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS), Kelly Slater (USA), Jesse Mendes (BRA)
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Matchups:
Heat 1: Lakey Peterson (USA), Johanne Defay (FRA), Caroline Marks (USA)
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Bronte Macaulay (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA), Paige Hareb (NZL)
Heat 6: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA), Coco Ho (HAW)