Action at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast presented by BOQ continued with Round 2 after two-consecutive lay days. The first elimination round of this year’s Samsung Galaxy World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour saw fiery exchanges as the world’s best female surfers fought hard to avoid an early exit.
Hawaiian surfers Coco Ho (HAW) and Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) were the standout performers of the day, each dominating their Round 2 heats and making the most of what Snapper Rocks had to offer.
Coco Ho (HAW) and Laura Enever (AUS) both looked in great form as they battled in their Round 2 matchup. Ho exploded out of the pocket, lighting up the Snapper walls and was rewarded with an excellent 9.23 and the heat win. Despite a strong showing Evener was left in need of a near-perfect score to better Ho’s 16.16 two-wave heat total, today’s top score, and is eliminated from the competition.
Above: Coco Ho. Photo WSL/Kelly Cestari
“That heat was scary,” Ho said. “I was really glad to get some waves, be able to surf and get the chance to do my thing. It was nice surfing at the end of the day because I got to watch everyone else and let them figure it out for me.”
A backhand battle between Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) unfolded in Heat 5. Weston-Webb held the lead throughout the heat, looking confident as she claimed her third Championship Tour win over the South African and a place in Round 3. Last year’s Roxy Pro runner-up, Buitendag, will have to set her sites on Bells Beach as she leaves the competition in equal 13th place.
“Out there some waves just form on the bank and you never know which ones,” said Weston-Webb. “I just wanted to stay busy, that was my goal going out there and I did. I lucked out by getting a few good inside ones that ran with a wall.”
Another of the day’s top performers was Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) who took on 2014 Rookie of the Year, Johanne Defay (FRA), in Round 2 Heat 2. The power of Defay against the smooth transitions of Van Dijk saw the surfers neck and neck through the majority of the 30-minute heat. Both posted scores in the excellent range (8 points and above), with Defay claiming a 9.00 while Van Dijk was rewarded with an 8.10. In the end it was the in-form Australian who took the win courtesy of a 7.37 backup score.
“Every heat I have against Johanne we both put up a good fight,” Van Dijk said. “I think it’s good to know that going into a head, knowing that you’ll have to work for it. That was a really crazy heat and I was so nervous at the end. I’m so happy to make it through and I can’t wait for the next round.”
An unusual Round 2 appearance for Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) saw her face Bronte Macaulay (AUS). The trials winner pushed Gilmore throughout their heat, holding the lead for much of the bout. With one minute remaining the pressure was on with Macaulay still occupying the top spot. The 6-time reigning WSL Champion kept her composure and found a wave in the dying seconds, using her skill and experience to claim a come-from-behind victory and avoid early elimination.
“I always get nervous before a competition but I think that’s a good thing,” Gilmore said. “You can never underestimate your opponent, especially someone like Bronte who’s so talented and has great tactics in heats. I tried to be patient and trust that I would get the scores I needed. There were definitely some moments of butterflies but I had faith in Snapper.”
“It’s my first CT (Championship Tour) event so it’s been a really big learning experience for me.” said Macaulay. “It was so nice to be out in the water with Stephanie, she’s my favorite surfer.”
Above: Sage Erickson. Photo: WSL/Kelly Cestari
Courtney Conlogue (USA) took on Sage Erickson (USA) in the day’s opening heat and, with everything on the line in elimination Round 2, both surfers looked hungry for a win. Conlogue used her power game to post a solid 7-point score and take the lead. She backed it up it with a 5.77 for the heat win. Erickson wasn’t able to come back and leaves the competition in equal 13th place.
“I’m so thrilled to be here at Snapper and hopefully I have a full season this year,” said Conlogue. “I’m definitely someone who attacks my wave and display a lot of power and shows creativity. I always try and make every turn slightly different and show variety.”
“Falling off tour was a big reality check for me,” said Erickson. “I had to take a step back and decide what I really wanted. I made the commitment to do what it takes to get back on this world-class tour and spent last year working really hard to get ready.”
Tyler Wright (AUS) kept busy in her Round 2 heat against Alessa Quizon (HAW), with 13 waves to Quizon’s 6, and her hard worked paid off. Last year’s world title runner-up sealed her place in Round 3 with a last-minute 8.10, eliminating Quizon from the competition in equal 13th place.
“It’s so nice to get in the water here with only one other person in the water,” Wright said. “There’s normally so many people in the water here so it’s great. The bank is really good so that’s a real plus for the forecast, whatever comes our way you know you’ll get waves.”
The Roxy Pro Gold Coast is webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.
The world’s best surfing is also broadcast LIVE on Fox Sports in Australia, MCS Extreme in France, EDGE Sports in China, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and the WSL’s new partner in Brazil, Globo TV.
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 2 Results (1st to R3, 2nd = 13th):
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.07 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 12.27
Heat 2: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 15.47 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 14.77
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 12.00 def. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 11.40
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.70 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 11.24
Heat 5: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 15.93 def. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 11.07
Heat 6: Coco Ho (HAW) 16.16 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 13.27
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 3 Match-Ups (1st to QF, 2nd and 3rd to R4):
Heat 1: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Dimity Stoyle (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS), Courtney Conlogue (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW), Lakey Peterson (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)