It’s been a big week on the Gold Coast, the ASP Annual General Meeting and Board meeting is done and dusted, the ASP Banquet, where we crown the respective World Champions, went off successfully and the first shots have been fired in the 2008 Men’s & Women’s World Tours.
The Banquet has been hailed as our best effort yet, the choreography kept the night moving along at an entertaining pace, ASP Europe President Dave Mailman, with his extensive background on the tour, did an excellent job as MC, and some heartfelt responses by newly crowned World Champions really bought the night to life.
No sooner had we saluted 2007’s champions then the gates opened on a new ASP season. The Quiksilver Pro launched into action at Duranbah on Saturday the 25th in fun beachbreaks. The heat, more then the waves, was the dominant of the natural elements, the mercury passing the 40 degree Celsius (about 110 Fahrenheit) around noon. The action in the water was equally scorching, the new Top 45 strutting their stuff and clearing any residual off-season rust from their game.
In all there were ten red singlets posting opening wins, signifying a pretty good day at the office for the top seeded surfers. The highest ranked surfer relegated to the sudden death Rd 2 was three times World Champ Andy Irons, who was out pointed by France’s senior representative Mikael Picon, Irons being joined by CJ & Damien Hobgood and fellow top seeds Jeremy Flores, Pancho Sullivan and Tom Whittaker.
The top point scorers on the day were Luke Munro, Bede Durbidge, Taj Burrow and Dayyan Neve, who all averaged excellent scores, however of note was the fact that Dane Reynolds(16.20) and Adrian Buchan(16.10), who lost to Munro and Burrow respectively, would have won nearly any other heat. The locals have a bit of a mortgage on the Quiksilver Pro, Mick Fanning having won twice, Joel Parkinson and Dean Morrison once, and all three looked to be in terrific form at D/Bah.
Wildcards Tamaroa McComb, Julian Wilson and Michel Bourez all got fairly blitzed in their openers and now face top seeds Andy Irons, Pancho Sullivan and Jeremy Flores in the lead heats of the next round. The Russian roulette of this event is which chambers Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith clicked into. To open the season Dane will have his first man on man encounter with second year pro Ricky Basnett while Jordy takes on the seasoned Danny Wills.
The first two rounds of the Roxy Pro were completed on Sunday, the only casualties being Laurina McGrath and Karina Petroni. Drawing the gnarliest heat imaginable, Karina Petroni can think herself a tad unlucky, her third place score would have secured at least second in most other heats, but coming up against newly crowned World Champion Stephanie Gilmore and Hawaiian super kid Carissa Moore is a pretty radical entry into the big league. She ended up being ousted by Rebecca Woods and Claire Bevilacqua, who now move on to Rd 3.
Laurina went out to Samantha Cornish and Nicola Atherton, who now meet head to head in the lead off heat of Rd 3. I guess the biggest clash is the Steph Gilmore/Carissa Moore showdown. This is a classic. First off Carissa prevailed in an epic trials encounter with fellow mini titan Sally Fitzgibbon, the winner earning the privilege of taking on the world #1. The wildcard story of the Roxy Pro is fascinating. Two years ago the relatively unknown Steph Gilmore swept all before her, including famous wins over newly crowned World Champion Chelsea Hedges and Layne Beachley, to win the event.
Last year it was Carissa Moore who turned the tables, beating up on newly crowned 7 times World Champion Layne Beachley before going down to Chelsea Hedges in the Roxy Pro Final. It was an amazing performance by a girl who still had four years left in the pro junior division. One has to consider how outrageous this is. Not a week after being crowned World Champion a little known wildcard has nailed you in the 3rd round of competition. Okay, Carissa is no longer a surprise package, but the irony is that Steph Gilmore, who ran rampant on top seeds as a wildcard, now faces the hottest youngster in the world. She certainly showed no quarter in the opening exchange, posting 15.84 to Carissa’s 12.87, but now comes the acid test as the reigning World Champ has to overcome the Roxy wildcard hoodoo.
The coast has copped a battering over the past two months but the sand is pretty decent at both D/Bah and Snapper, and while any action over the next four or five days will probably be limited to Duranbah, the cycles have been such that one can look optimistically forward to some serious Snapper involvement during the window.