John John Florence (HAW) claimed victory at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, after defeating Kolohe Andino (USA) in the Final.
The reigning WSL Champion lit up Western Australia and dominated the event with near-perfect scores in almost every heat. FLorence then continued his form throughout the Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Final today in solid six-to-eight foot (2 – 2.5 metre) waves at Margaret River’s Main Break.
Florence’s success marks his first victory on the CT Australian leg and best ever start to the elite Championship season. The win pushes Florence up to first on the Jeep Leaderboard and he will sport the coveted Jeep Leader Jersey heading into Bells Beach.
“This is one of my favourite places to come to in the world,” said Florence.
“There is such an abundance of different and amazing waves. The crowd we get for the event is awesome and it’s just such a special event. Thank you to my mom and family. My mom would take me and my brothers to all of our surfing events when we were kids and was always supportive. I wish she was here to celebrate, but I know they are watching at home. My support crew here has been really great and fun to surf and just hang out with, so thank you to those guys.”
The Final saw a dramatic finish as Florence charged through Main Break with massive laybacks and powerful rail-carves. Andino fought back with a big air reverse and clean snaps for a 13.60 two-wave score. Despite Andino’s technical maneuvers, Florence kept on pace with his previous performances to earn a phenomenal 19.03 combined score to close out the day.
“I was really excited to get out there and just stay focused on my own surfing at this event,” continued Florence. “I feel like I learned a ton last year. I have been working closely on my equipment and my boards feel incredible right now. Surfing against Kolohe [Andino] in the Final was really cool. He used to always beat me in the national events when we were kids, so it was nice to get one back on him.”
Andino’s runner-up finish is his best result in Margaret River and will move him up to 3rd place on the Jeep Leaderboard. Andino has yet to solidify an event win on the elite Championship Tour, but will now look to Bells to improve his 2017 World Title campaign.
“I’m really stoked with this event,” Andino said.
“The waves today — and the entire event for that matter — have been awesome. You can’t ask for much more than big swell and offshore winds.”
“I know I work as hard as anyone else on tour and my surfing is there, but I just need to work on competing right. This event was really John’s [Florence] to lose. I am glad I was on the other side of the draw as he was ripping so hard all event. I’ve been competing against John since as long as I can remember and he has always pushed me a lot, so it was cool to share a CT Final with him.”
Meanwhile, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) beat 2016 WSL Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) in the women’s final. The Final Day of the women’s event witnessed the remaining four competitors compete in three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) conditions at Main Break in Western Australia.
The second stop of the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, saw Fitzgibbons claim her first ever win in Margaret River, marking her 10th CT victory. Fitzgibbons’ success today now ties her for World No. 1 on the Jeep Leaderboard with six-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).
“I’m so over the moon to be holding this trophy,” Fitzgibbons said.
“When I heard my name being called out as the champion, I really felt a sense of belonging and calm. It’s been an amazing couple of weeks here in the West and to finish it off with a win is the best feeling. I love coming to Margaret River. I feel like it’s a place that I am super comfortable and familiar with, so it’s a special event win for me.”
The Final saw the heated all-Australian battle unfold between Fitzgibbons and Wright at Main Break. Fitzgibbons kicked off the Final with an authoritative 7.83 on her opening ride. Wright fired back on multiple attempts, but was only able to lock in mid-range scores. Fitzgibbons continued to better her position with a strong 7.07, forcing Wright to chase an excellent 8.30. On her last attempt, Wright was not able to challenge Fitzgibbons’ 14.90 combined score.
Highlights from the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro are available at WorldSurfLeague.com.
The next stop on the 2017 WSL Championship Tour is the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia from April 12 – April 24. The event will be broadcast LIVE via WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL app and on Facebook LIVE via the WSL’s Facebook page. Also check the local listings for coverage on CBS Sports Network in the U.S., Fox Sports in Australia, ESPN in Brazil, Sky NZ in New Zealand, SFR Sports in France and Portugal and as part of the EDGEsport Network.
For more information, check out WorldSurfLeague.com.
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Final Results:
1 – John John Florence (HAW) 19.03
2 – Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.60
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 19.27 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.57
SF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.63 def. Filipe Toledo (BRA) 15.00
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.50 def. Owen Wright (AUS) 5.50
QF 2: John John Florence (HAW) 18.04 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 15.77
QF 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 12.83 def. Adriano de Souza (BRA) 10.33
QF 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) 18.77 def. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.86
2017 WSL Men’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Drug Aware Margaret River Pro):
1 – John John Florence (HAW) 16,500 pts
2 – Owen Wright (AUS) 15,200 pts
3 – Kolohe Andino (USA) 12,000 pts
4 – Jordy Smith (ZAF) 9,200 pts
4 – Adriano de Souza (BRA) 9,200 pts
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Final Results:
1 – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.90
2 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.53
Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 16.00 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 12.17
SF 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.43 def. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10.93
2017 WSL Women’s Jeep Leaderboard (After Drug Aware Margaret River Pro):
1 – Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 16,500 pts
1 – Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16,500 pts
3 – Tyler Wright (AUS) 13,200 pts
4 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 10,400 pts
4 – Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 10,400 pts