Rookies rise as champs fall

Snapper Rocks fired on all cylinders yesterday for a full day of the Quiksilver Pro Competition, with high drama in a clean three-to-five foot (1 – 1.5 metre) waves.

It was all happening, as defending event champ Filipe Toledo posted a near-perfect 19.20, WSL champs Mick Fanning and Gabriel Medina were eliminated in Round 3 while Sebastian Zietz and Stuart Kennedy continued to deal upsets to World’s best.

Filipe Toledo (BRA), defending Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast champion, bookended the day’s affairs with incendiary surfing, first dispatching of lethal rookie Ryan Callinan (AUS) in Round 3 and then posting a near-perfect 19.20 out of a possible 20 in Round 4 to advance directly through to the Quarterfinals.

“I am still shaking watching these waves because it is so perfect,” said Toledo. “I am just super excited and cannot wait to get back into the water again. I want to keep going with good scores and doing well in heats. The board feels amazing, so I am feeling confident and having more fun in each heat.”

Sebastian Zietz (HAW), who gained entry into the event as an injury replacement, caused a major upset by knocking out local favorite and three-time World Champion, Mick Fanning (AUS) in Heat 7. Zietz opened the heat with a massive layback snap, showcasing the same all-out approach he used to advance out of Round 2. A snapped board forced Fanning to switch out his equipment and leave the line-up with six minutes to go on the clock. Zietz was able to pull out a second high scoring ride in the dying minutes of the heat, to take the win and advance to Round 4.

“I think being more relaxed translates into catching better waves,” said Zietz. “When you are relaxed it all just comes to, and I have a really good board and a good team. I’m bummed for Mick. I thought he was surfing the best out of anybody so I better go far for him.”

Stuart Kennedy (AUS), injury replacement, continued the day’s upsets in the last heat of Round 3 as he eliminated 2014 WSL World Champion and 2014 event winner, Gabriel Medina (BRA). Kennedy unleashed multiple risky maneuvers to earn a 0.27 lead over the Brazilian heavyweight.

“I love surfing against the best guys. It pushes my surfing to the next level after grinding it out on the Qualifying Series for so long,” said Kennedy. “I just knew I could get on some good waves and let my surfing do the talking. It has been a grind to get to this level, but I’m so stoked to have the opportunity to be the replacement, but hopefully I can keep getting more opportunities throughout the year. To beat those two guys, Kelly and Gabriel, it’s like a dream come true for sure.”

Adriano de Souza (BRA), reigning WSL World Champion, continued to showcase his power surfing as he defeated event wildcard Mikey Wright (AUS) in Round 3 Heat 6. In an all out battle, Wright and De Souza went wave for wave, but it was the Brazilian who took the lead with a two-wave combined score of 16.17.

“Mikey is such a great talent and surfer, and such a nice young gentleman, but I am so happy to make it through this heat,” De Souza said. “Round 3 is that round that does not make a lot of points, so I was nervous out there. I am happy to make this heat, but I also want to have fun too, and I definitely felt that on that wave.”

John John Florence (HAW) pulled out all the stops against Michel Bourez (PYF), most notably with his massive double-grab air that put 9.23 points on the board. Florence’s flair paid off, as he created a 4.06 point gap that Bourez was unable to close.

“The waves are really fun right now, you just have to pretty much enjoy it,” said Florence after his heat. “Michel is a scary guy to surf against for sure so I had a little bit of nerves, but I was thinking about myself and trying to have fun out here, and it ended up working out.”

2016 WSL Rookies also dealt out big upsets in Round 3 today, showcasing the depth of talent in this year’s rookie class. Conner Coffin (USA), Caio Ibelli (BRA) and Kanoa Igarashi (USA) excelled in their match-ups to take down Italo Ferreira (BRA), Josh Kerr (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA) respectively.

Coffin came charging into Heat 3 defeating Italo Ferreira (BRA), the 2015 WSL Rookie of the year in the last thirty seconds of the heat. Coffins’ buzzer-beater score over-took Ferreira’s lead by only 0.21 points to securing Coffin in Round 4.

“I used to surf against Italo in World Juniors and he used to be this air-maniac doing crazy air-reverses and last year it looked like he took the whole year to work on his power surfing,” said Coffin. “Showing up at Snapper I was super impressed. I knew it was going to be a hard heat and to get a big score you had to catch a wave with a lot of wall and not sit forever. I was so stoked that last wave came.”

Highlights from the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Remaining Round 2 Results:
Heat 11:
Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.17 def. Jack Freestone (AUS) 10.80
Heat 12: Kolohe Andino (USA) 13.97 def. Matt Banting (AUS) 12.23

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 3 Results:
Heat 1:
Filipe Toledo (BRA) 16.60 def. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 5.00
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (USA) 14.83 def. Jadson Andre (BRA) 13.66
Heat 3: Conner Coffin (USA) 14.04 def. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 13.83
Heat 4: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 11.83 def. Josh Kerr (AUS) 7.60
Heat 5: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 12.40 def. Taj Burrow (AUS) 12.07
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 16.17 def. Mikey Wright (AUS) 14.04
Heat 7: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 14.50 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 12.50
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 15.43 def. Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 13.70
Heat 9: Kolohe Andino (USA) 16.80 def. Nat Young (USA) 15.53
Heat 10: Kanoa Igarashi (USA) 13.30  def. Jeremy Flores (FRA) 12.83
Heat 11: John John Florence (HAW) 15.90 def. Michel Bourez (PYF) 11.84
Heat 12: Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 16.80 def. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 16.53

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1:
Filipe Toledo (BRA) 19.20, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.43, Conner Coffin (USA) 11.53
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 14.10, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 11.80, Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.50

Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Remaining Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 3:
Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Kolohe Andino (USA)
Heat 4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA), John John Florence (HAW), Stuart Kennedy (AUS)

Roxy Pro Gold Coast Upcoming Round 4 Match-Ups:
Heat 1:
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 3: Sage Erickson (USA) vs. Keely Andrew (AUS)
Heat 4: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)

Kate Webster is a travel journalist – travel writer and photographer who travels the globe in search of vivid imagery and compelling stories that capture the essence of the places she visits. Born out of a life-long love of travel and fascination with the world around her, is Kate’s inspiration behind her writing and photography. A passion of the ocean has lead Kate to be a part of Global Surf Sounds, as she continues to mix her love of travel and writing to now include surfing. When she’s not bouncing around the world on ramshackle buses, overcrowded trains, or on the back of a rickshaw, you can find her based in Sydney or the Gold Coast, Australia eagerly planning her next adventure.

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