The first stop of the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast, continued today in three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) conditions at Snapper Rocks. The women went all-out in non-elimination Round 3 to secure a place in the Quarterfinals of the Roxy Pro.

2016 WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) will continue her hunt for back-to-back event wins after defeating Lakey Peterson (USA) and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 2. Wright unleashed powerful rail-carves to earn a near-perfect 9.00 and 7.93. Peterson challenged the Jeep Frontrunner with an excellent 9.00 and 7.00, but fell just 0.93 points short of the win. Wright will advance straight to the Quarterfinals, while Peterson and Van Dijk battle to avoid elimination in Round 4.

“The conditions are really good out there, and I had to be super critical when catching waves,” Wright said. “I was pretty much looking for perfection. I didn’t get that from my 7s, but then I got that 9, and it wasn’t anything special. It was just simple, clean and concise surfing. Before the Quarterfinals, I really just need to reassess the conditions. The plan is always pretty similar, which is basically prioritizing what I need to work on, and when I get up on the wave to do what I know I’m capable of.”

Six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) met three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and 2017 CT Rookie Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 4. The superheat witnessed Gilmore fire on her opening ride with a double-barrel for a near-perfect 9.17. Moore fought back with an 8.17, but Gilmore found a solid ride to earn a 7.37 and the lead. Needing an 8.38 in the dying seconds of the heat, Moore pulled off the requirement by 0.20 for an excellent 8.53 and a place in the Quarterfinals.

“I just went into that wave thinking that I’ve got nothing to lose,” said Moore. “I knew that last wave was my last opportunity of the heat and I gave it everything I had. I’m so stoked with the outcome. It’s always so tough when you’re competitor opens up with a high score, especially when that person is Stephanie Gilmore. I wasn’t too nervous when the scores were coming in. I knew I surfed my best and Steph surfed her best.”

2016 WSL Rookie of the Year Keely Andrew (AUS) shook up the competition with a big win over World Title contenders Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS). Andrew earned her Quarterfinal berth, her best result on the Gold Coast, with a 14.77 combined score, edging out Fitzgibbons by only 0.23 and Conlogue by 1.24. Conlogue and Fitzgibbons will battle in Round 4 to secure a solid start to their seasons.

“I might need to ask the judges for another heat because the waves are unreal,” Andrew said. “Being in the company of Courtney [Conlogue] and Sally [Fitzgibbons] was pretty special and coming out on top was even better. Getting that win will definitely mean a lot for me and my confidence going forward even though I had a bit of a slow start in those first few rounds. I’ve noticed my best attribute is speed and I just need to combine that with the power. I think that combination will mean my surfing will flow better and the judges will reward those factors.”

The opening heat of Round 3 saw a close battle between Johanne Defay (FRA), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and Coco Ho (HAW). All three competitors exchanged control as each posted excellent-range scores, including a near-perfect 9.83 from Ho. Current World No. 5 Defay earned yet another buzzer-beater win with an excellent 8.70 to supplement her 8.50 back-up score. Although Ho and Weston-Webb showcased incredible surfing, they will be relegated to elimination Round 4.

“It was a very tough heat because Tatiana [Weston-Webb] and Coco [Ho] had great scores,” said Defay. “It fired me up knowing Coco dropped that huge 9-point ride. I went out there and focused on the quality of my maneuvres rather than the quantity. I’ve been working on developing my surfing. It is coming along and is starting show.”

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 3 Results:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 17.20, Coco Ho (HAW) 15.66, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 15.37
Heat 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.93, Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.00, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 11.44
Heat 3: Keely Andrew (AUS) 14.77, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.54, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.53
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.70, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16.54, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 12.23

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)

Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow at 7:00 a.m. local time to assess the conditions and make the next call.

Surfline, official forecast for the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro, are calling for:

E trade windswell/swell holds in the head/overhead range. AM light S to calm winds. Easterly breezes settling in through midday but should stay pretty light. Cloudy with showers likely. Winds may vary at times around passing local weather features.

The interaction between high pressure over New Zealand and a trough east of the Gold Coast has set up the start of a prolonged run of trade windswell/swell that will continue through early next week. Local winds look good into Saturday but may vary at times around passing local weather features. Watching winds in the longer range. Trend to ENE to NE winds expected for Sunday/Monday.

The event will be broadcast LIVE via, the WSL app and the WSL’s Facebook page as well as Fox Sports in Australia, Sky NZ, SFR Sports in France, Sport TV in Portugal, EDGE Sports in China, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and other territories and on Globo TV in Brazil.

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