WOMEN BLAZE THROUGH OPENING ROUNDS OF DRUG AWARE MARGARET RIVER PRO
The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 2 of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), continued today with the completion of women’s Rounds 1, 2 and 3 at Main Break in clean 3-to-4 foot (1-1.5 metre) waves. With the possibility of facing elimination, the day saw the world’s best surfers unleash progressive and powerful maneuvers to stay alive in the event.
Reigning WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) lit up Main Break with a near-perfect 9.57 and an excellent 8.37, the highest combined total of the day. The defending event winner celebrated her birthday with big powerturns and the heat win. Wright’s incredible performance will force Malia Manuel (HAW) and Sage Erickson (USA) to surf again in Round 4, while Wright skips ahead to the Quarterfinals.
“That was a great heat,” Wright said. “The waves were awesome with some great sections to hit. Malia [Manuel] was on fire and probably would have won any other heat today, so I feel pretty lucky to get the win. I’m feeling really settled at the moment. My game plan is solid and my boards are great, so I’m feeling good.”
Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) looked comfortable in the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey on her way to taking out Rounds 1 and 3 to earn a spot in the Quarterfinals. Round 3 saw Gilmore under pressure with a 5.57 at the start, but needing a second wave score to combat Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW). In a nail-biting finish, Gilmore waited until the dying seconds of the heat to make her move for a stunning 9.10 and the win.
“That was a really fun heat with lots of strategies,” Gilmore said. “You could tell everyone had a different game plan and that they were going to stick with it, which was cool. I knew that getting the score was achievable if the right wave came so I had to be patient with priority. Once I got the wave, I stayed really focused on finishing it and not falling on the last turn. It’s good to be in the Quarterfinals.”
Three-time WSL Champion and two-time event winner, Carissa Moore (HAW), blazed through her Round 3 match-up against 2017 World Title contender Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and 2016 Rookie of the Year Keely Andrew (AUS) in Heat 4. Moore posted an incredible 17.47, composed of a near-perfect 9.57 and 7.90, to put her competitors in a tight combination situation. To add more proof of her dominance, earlier today Moore charged through Round 1 with a victory against World No. 2 Lakey Peterson (USA) and Pauline Ado (FRA).
“It was nice to have a few opportunities in that heat,” Moore said. “It was good to get the first wave and first decent score. Sally [Fitzgibbons] is so good at running away with the lead so to stay on top of that was important. I went back to an old faithful board which was a good move. I’m having a great time and feeling really happy to be here in Margaret River, one of my favourite spots on tour.”
Coco Ho (HAW) previously dispatched Peterson in Round 2 Heat 2. Peterson, who earned an incredible runner-up finish at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, will exit with a 13th place finish.
Courtney Conlogue (AUS) made her way through to the Quarterfinals after defeating World No. 3 Johanne Defay (FRA) and Ho in the opening heat of Round 3. Conlogue, the 2016 event runner-up, looked comfortable in the lineup as she garnered an excellent 15.70 two-wave total. Defay and Ho will surf again in elimination Round 4 for one last opportunity to make it through to the final series.
“My surfing felt really good during that heat,” Conlogue said. “There is a bit of room to work on the rights, but going left on my backhand felt good. I like Round 3 heats because you can experiment a bit, so I surfed a different board, which was nice. Surfing in Round 4 is never easy, so I’m stoked to skip into the Quarterfinals.”
After being relegated to Round 2 by Gilmore, Van Dijk went on to face 2017 CT rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS). The two Australians went wave for wave, but it was Van Dijk who got the slight 1.01-point lead over the local favorite. Macaulay will leave this event with an Equal 13th place result and will look to bounce back in Bells Beach.
En route to Round 3, Defay faced event wildcard Laura Macaulay (AUS) in Heat 3 of Round 2. Defay got started with two mid-range scores, but secured her win with an incredible closing maneuver for an 8.00 (out of a possible 10) to give her an edge over Macaulay.
Round 2 also saw Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Paulina Ado (FRA) and Silvana Lima (BRA)eliminated by Weston-Webb, Erickson and Andrew, respectively.
Event organizers will reconvene at 6:30 a.m. local time to reassess the conditions and make the next call.
Surfline, official forecast for the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, are calling for:
A very large SSW swell will build in Wednesday, fading for the end of the week. A much smaller, but still solid, SSW swell is looking more and more likely for Friday afternoon and Saturday before fading into early next week. Favorable wind also looks likely, especially in the mornings, for the first several days of the waiting period. Beyond that, another run of medium to potentially strong surf is possible over the last 3-5 days of the waiting period, although local wind looks a little dicey at this time.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.
The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Remaining Women’s Round 1 Results:
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.10, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 10.17, Nikki Van DIjk (AUS) 8.83
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.60, Lakey Peterson (USA) 8.90, Pauline Ado (FRA) 4.53
Heat 6: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.83, Silvana Lima (BRA) 11.17, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 5.87
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 2 Results:
Heat 1: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.84 def. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.83
Heat 2: Coco Ho (HAW) 13.10 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 7.50
Heat 3: Johanne Defay (FRA) 15.27 def. Laura Macaulay (AUS) 7.67
Heat 4: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 15.17 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 9.66
Heat 5: Sage Erickson (USA) 14.67 def. Pauline Ado (FRA) 11.87
Heat 6: Keely Andrew (AUS) 12.66 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 7.96
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.70, Coco Ho (HAW) 12.77, Johanne Defay (FRA) 9.90
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 17.94, Malia Manuel (HAW) 17.00, Sage Erickson (USA) 11.94
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.67, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.77, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 12.70
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 17.47, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.53, Keely Andrew (AUS) 10.27
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Heat 3: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)