The Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover, the opening stop of the 2011 ASP World Title season, completed Rounds 4 and 5 today with the most electrifying surfing of the event in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves at the primary venue of Snapper Rocks.
Taj Burrow (AUS), 32, defending Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Champion, continued to prove he is the man to beat at Snapper Rocks; the Western Australian posted the highest heat total of the event, a 19.06 out of a possible 20, to dispatch of red hot South American Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, in a blow for blow Round 5.
“I just wanted to get back in that heat," Burrow said. “Adriano (de Souza) raised it by getting that 9 at the start and it made me hungry. It’s awesome when you dig deep and it goes your way at the end. I surfed my guts out and know judges like when you’re committed and I’m just glad they rewarded it."
Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, 2010 ASP World Runner-Up and Runner-Up at the 2010 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, kept his dreams alive tonight with a sensational come-from-behind victory over local standout Joel Parkinson (AUS), 29, in Round 5. Needing a big score in the dying moments, Smith took a wave off of Parkinson’s priority and secured the 7.50 out of a possible 10 and the win.
“I’m really stoked right now," Smith said. “Finally something good came. I had a bummer of a morning and I was kind of down after losing my first heat. He (Parkinson) always beats me and I’ve looked up to him forever. I don’t know what to say, I’m rattled right now."
Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 22, into his second year amongst the ASP Top 34, posted a career-best result this morning, besting reigning 10-time ASP World Champion Kelly Slater (USA), 39, and Michel Bourez (PYF), 25, in their Round 4 clash to advance directly to the Quarterfinals.
“It was a really tough heat," Wilkinson said. “The waves are really fat with the high tide. I got a first one and it had a good section and I fell off. There was only 20 seconds to go and Michel (Bourez) got what was I thought was the last wave and the next double up came off of the rock. I didn’t know if I was going to get it. I knew I only needed a small score and got a bit excited and had a little claim about halfway through the wave. This is my best result in a World Tour event. It’s a great way to start the year and I’m happy."
Slater, although relegated to the elimination Round 5, recovered well to take down an in form Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, to advance through to the Quarterfinals.
“I feel a little better," Slater said. “I just felt a little weak and off of my game today. I didn’t sleep great and ate late last night. I didn’t get enough sleep and felt a little shaky and off tune. I went home and rested and tried to hit the reset button before the second heat. I don’t feel like I’ve kicked it into high gear just yet, so it’s nice to make a heat feeling like you didn’t have it all in the tank."
Ever guarded when discussing his annual plans, Slater was contemplative in terms of his agenda for 2011.
“Sometimes I look back at everything and I’m pretty stoked," Slater said. “It’s been a long time, I just love it. I don’t always love the competition side of things and I just love to surf and love to get in the water. It’s a blessing to surf here alone. All of these people don’t get to surf Snapper with no one out. I want to keep making heats so I don’t have to free-surf as much. I don’t really know about my plans this year. I guess I’ve put it out there that I might retire or it’s been put out there by other people. I guess people didn’t expect that I would get a title this late in my career and I don’t know what’s possible."
Brett Simpson (USA), 26, who posted the highest scores in the early rounds of the Quiksilver Pro, returned in lethal form today, notching an impressive Round 4 victory this morning to relegate ASP World No. 2 Jordy Smith (ZAF), 23, and Brazilian standout Adriano de Souza (BRA), 24, to Round 5 while advancing directly into the Quarterfinals.
“I made a stupid mistake at the end of that heat," Simpson said. “On the wave that Adriano (de Souza) got, I tried an air and the wave went all the way to Greenmount. I had a couple of 8s which is a great heat out there, and thought I needed to go big if I was going to better my scores because Jordy (Smith) gets 9s all the time. I was just trying to hold position out there, which is tough because it’s a three man heat with no priority, but I got a couple of nice waves out there."
Dusty Payne (HAW), 22, who eliminated local favorite and two-time ASP World Champion Mick Fanning (AUS), 29, from competition yesterday, continued to show his poise in his sophomore year amongst the elite ranks to take a commanding Round 4 victory over dangerous goofy-footer Adrian Buchan (AUS), 28, and Portuguese standout Tiago Pires (PRT), 30.
“I’m feeling way more comfortable this year than I did last year," Payne said. “I’m in the Quarterfinals now and that’s my best ever result on the World Tour so I couldn’t be happier."
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow morning at 6:30am to assess conditions for a possible 7:30am start.
When competition resumes, up first will be Dusty Payne (HAW), 22, up against Kelly Slater (USA), 39, in the first Quarterfinal.
Highlights from the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will be available via http://www.quiksilverpro.com.au
The event will also be broadcast LIVE free-to-air on One HD.
For more information, log onto www.aspworldtour.com
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) 14.07, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 11.83, Tiago Pires (PRT) 11.80
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 13.53, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.14, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.06
Heat 3: Brett Simpson (USA) 16.60, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 15.63, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.87
Heat 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.23, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.76, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.56
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 5 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Kelly Slater (USA) 15.80 def. Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.60
Heat 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.27 def. Michel Bouez (PYF) 12.94
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 19.06 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 18.94
Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.67 def. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 16.17
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
QF 1: Dusty Payne (HAW) vs. Kelly Slater (USA)
QF 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
QF 3: Brett Simpson (USA) vs. Taj Burrow (AUS)
QF 4: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Jordy Smith (ZAF)