Day one of the Margaret River Pro has been put to sleep. Those hoping for massive grinding walls might feel somewhat cheated, for the conditions often slanted towards mediocre, but each heat still told an interesting story, the highlights of which are detailed below.
Slater lost, and has no stickers: Perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that a 42 year old sponsorless former world champion lost to wildcard, Yadin Nicol, who happens to be backed by the biggest sportswear company in the world. This was duly pointed out by the victor in his post heat interview; "Well the guy doesn't have a sponsor, so I felt a little bit bad, but really it felt great to beat him. I wish I could have done that last year, or the year before."
Contrary to surfing mythology, Slater is not a perpetual wave magnet, and is far from invincible. He didn't surf poorly, pulling out his patented tuns and carving threes with ease, but Yadin found the better waves and walked away a worthy victor. The special one will face trials winner Nathan Hedge in round 2; an adrenalin pumped opponent who is not to be trifled with, but then Kelly isn't much of a trifler.
Margaret River isn't very exciting at this size: "I hope it's big, " said Owen Wright in his pre-event interview. "I'd love to see who came out on top faced with some wild ocean walls." Unfortunately this was not the case for day 1. There were no big barrels, inviting air bowls or monstrous sections, in fact, much of round 1 focussed around a head-high windy right, culminating in a near-dry closeout.
Medina beat John John: Like Mario and Luigi jumping for gold coins, both JJ and Medina took the sky in search of points. The victor on this occasion was Medina, who bested Florence (and Andino) with a string of smooth backhand hacks, punctuated by an altitudinous backside air reverse. This rivalry of potential future world champions has yet to truly materialise, with Medina clearly leading the head-to-heads, but it's too early in the season to be laying bets.
Julian Wilson is pumped: Eager to shake off his round three loss on the Gold Coast, Wilson accumulated the highest heat score of the day (16.00) in just eight minutes. Dion Atkinson and Jeremy Flores were like spring lambs to the slaughter; frolicking in fresh pastures at one moment, then served up on a plate the next.
The women still shred: Placed on an equal playing field at Snapper, the women proved themselves every bit as exciting to watch as the men. At Margs, faced with an unfavourable wind blown lineup, they once again stepped up, with Courtney Conlogue, Malia Manuel and Bianca Buitendag leading the way. This tour is no longer dominated by two freakish talents. Each round 1 heat boasted a possible winner.
The forecast: Tomorrow the size is set to drop, but there should still be plenty of fun walls to work with. A fresh pulse is expected to arrive over the weekend, peaking on Sunday, bringing with it conditions in the same range as day 1. There's something large looming towards the end of the waiting period, but it's too early to call.
let us know your thoughts. Is Margs a welcome addition to the tour?
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.23, Nat Young (USA) 8.77, Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 8.23
Heat 2: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 15.33, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 10.70, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 6.26
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) 10.77, Brett Simpson (USA) 9.50, Fred Patacchia (HAW) 7.60
Heat 4: Adam Melling (AUS) 13.17, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 10.83, Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 9.30
Heat 5: Yadin Nicol (AUS) 15.23, Kelly Slater (USA) 11.87, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 10.37
Heat 6: Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.17, Nathan Hedge (AUS) 9.43, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 7.57
Heat 7: Julian Wilson (AUS) 16.00, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 11.53, Dion Atkinson (AUS) 9.17
Heat 8: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 12.57, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.06, Travis Logie (ZAF) 8.90
Heat 9: Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.50, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 4.83, Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Heat 10: Jadson Andre (BRA) 14.50, Owen Wright (AUS) 11.26, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9.86
Heat 11: Kai Otton (AUS) 13.40, Mitch Crews (AUS) 12.83, Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.10
Heat 12: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.40, John John Florence (HAW) 14.67, Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.96
Drug Aware Margaret River Women’s Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.83, Coco Ho (HAW) 7.16, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 5.13
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 9.16, Paige Hareb (NZL) 6.77, Pauline Ado (FRA) 3.46
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (AUS) 11.43, Laura Macaulay (AUS) 11.04, Alessa Quizon (HAW) 6.13
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.50, Johanne Defay (FRA) 10.76, Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 7.86
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.50, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.17, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 7.57