Day one at the Margaret River Pro delivers in gold.
The experiment to move the contest to North Point looked like a failure when the first heat was thrown in the water. The hyperbole surrounding today’s forecast talked it up as all-time. It wasn’t 8 foot, but it was better than Mainbreak so let’s not complain.
Kelly avoided round 2 by finding a couple of tubes off the inside ledge and Mick looked totally out of sorts. Despite Leo doing an Italian Job on Kelly last year, the rookie didn’t get more than a 1.00 on the board.
The high tide was swallowing Norths and the first few heats were a snooze. Kolohe’s 7.00 was a brief highlight and Zeke showed flashes of his Hawaiian power arcs. But did you see Stu Kennedy’s huge shadow boxing claim? Genius!
Freestone, Wilko, Pupo. Yawn, yawn, yawn. Freestone fluked a couple and won with a 6.77 heat total. Wilko waited for the bombs and failed to get going at all.
Jordy, Nat, Kanoa. Finally a good heat. Jordy looked super comfortable. Riding a longer board really helped him elongate his trademark arcs and the 7.83 score could’ve gone further north. Replacing Italo, Santa Cruz screwfoot, Nat Young was surfing out of his skin. Taking the lead momentarily from Jordy he wasn’t going down without a fight. He let rip with his repetitive backhand snaps tunnelling through tubes. Nat went down but is surfing for redemption. A desperate man trying to get back on tour, he will be a dangerous guy to draw in round 2.
Jesse Mendes, the replacement wildcard from Brazil, and QS journeyman came through with an upset. His 7.40 felt overscored. A quick cover up, weird backhand squat wasn’t pretty surfing but got the job done.
Florence, Willcox and Morais. I had high hopes for the Portuguese rookie until John John’s opening wave. I imagined his power surfing foundation would suit North Point. But it wasn’t to be. John John was on fire. His in-your-face reverse combo’d the field and it was all over.
Gouveia, O’Leary and Wright. Three goofies. Owen’s fairytale run came to a halt but not before he side slipped into one of the throatiest tubes of the day that near-decapitated the current Jeep rating's leader. Ian Gouveia showed why he’s on tour. His 8.00 was a dream, hitting the ledge perfectly it stood up and ran and ran with the Brazilian parked deep in the hole. O’Leary’s 6.33 was good but Gouveia’s was better.
Parko losing to Caio in the dying seconds was strange. Caio continues his buzzer beating upsets in Margs while Parko faces a nervous heat in round 2.
Jermey Flores! The human yo-yo is back baby. Feeling good and looking heavier. The Frenchman was on fire today. Admitting to Ronnie he’d put on the pork in the off-season he spoke of his love for WA, studying footage of North Point prior to today and that right now he’s in a “good place”. He impressed and showed that he knows how to shoot tubes.
Bourez loves WA. Winning the event in 2015 his heavy-foot hammers and skills in the tube make him dangerous at Margies. He smoked Joan Duro and Conner Coffin. The up-and-down Tahitian who has a tendency to overpower his turns won’t have that problem here. Expect him to be a wrecking ball through the draw no matter where the event goes.
A game of cat and mouse made for a boring heat 11. If you’re a strategy guy you would of loved it. But Julian, Durbo and Kerrzy had me hitting snooze. Julian took to the air despite a rumoured busted ankle and held on for the win. Durbo blew the wave of the day and Josh Kerr finished the heat with dry hair and should be ashamed for not catching a single wave.
But today was all about Seabass. He waited patiently against Ethan Ewing and Filipe Toledo and boy did it pay. In the lead with a meagre 4.83, the Hawaiian jagged an emerald cylinder, weaving and weaving, looking for all money that he was gone. But then…suddenly, the Hawaiian reappeared! “That was the best 10 ever,” fizzed Pete Mel. No doubt. It would have made any video part all year. More Seabass please.
With talk of round 2 going to The Box who else can’t wait for more drama to unfold?