“It’s opening day for the Pro surf world.”
One thing for sure, it has been a good time to be in training for the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Cyclone Marcia has been delivering endless cylinders, and our favourite pro surfers have been practicing.
The epic conditions could prevail, but that’s highly unlikely. What’s probably going to happen is that the cyclone will be gone and the conditions for the event are going to follow the last few years and get small, and light onshore, for a large part of the waiting period.
Either way, as Jordy succinctly nutshelled the event to Tracks, “It’s opening day for the Pro surf world.”
Gabriel Medina is going to have a huge target on his back this year. It’s going to be that much more difficult for him to get onto the bombs, with the Coolie crew and their friends, and their friends all prepared to push hard in order to keep him off the good ones. Not that this is going to deter Gabby. He’s world champ for a reason, and one of them is because he knows how to get the good ones. Two per heat, to be precise. Still, the gaps are definitely going to be a bit narrow for our Gabs, especially seen as there are quite a few people who feel that the floaters done at Marley weren’t fairly compared to Parko’s barrels behind the rocks last year. There is also a chance that if too much focus goes onto controlling Gabs then Toledo could slip in quietly, and do a silent assassin job on everyone. He has the skills. Wouldn’t that be a hoot?
Then we have the tour ninjas, who are not going anywhere and who want to extract as much as they possibly can from their somewhat twilight years, as the game changes and the next crew continue with their door-busting antics. Slater is going to be there, with his Chia pods and Purps, and ready for what could quite possibly be the ultimate surfing swansong. Parko is going to be determined to get another win after the chagrin of his 2nd last year in front of his homies, Fanning will be training around the corner at Froggies on his exercise ball, and Taj will continue to have fun and smile and win heats and hang out and chat to the boys, as he is prone to do at every contest he surfs in.
The second tier of old boys, guys of the caliber of Jordy, John John and Kolohe, are also champing for a big win and a big year, and with the first event of the year setting up world champions, those three, along with Kerrzy and a somewhat trimmed down Wilko, are not going to go in halves. A happy Jordy has yet another new demeanor, and John John is fighting fit.
As long as the judges keep their eyes on the ball and stay open to the full air game, as they have been recently, we’re in with a contest. With the ninjas and the possibility of open right-hand faces, there is going to be an excess of somewhat tedious yet smooth and effortless round house cutbacks and stylish lip bounces, laboriously accentuated bottom turns and endless forehand gouges, when all we want to see is the drama of air moves, surfers rotating into the flats, and air to power combos with no claims.
The wildcards are also rearing to go, in more ways than one, but one can’t help but wonder if this current crop is going to follow the path of last year’s crew of Dion and Mitch, who arrived with smiles and bluster, and disappeared with a whimper. Our current crop of newbies could very easily be ousted before they get their toenails into the wax. Nice people all five of them, it’s hard to find a killer instinct in any of them. Wiggolly might have a bit of Brazilian hunger in him, and Ricardo Christie has the weight of a sport funding campaign on his head which could make him stand tall for his supporters or crumble under the weight of expectancy. Matt Banting is going to have plenty of support on the tour, but he’s also going to have plenty of support on the party scene, and that could be the game changer. Let’s not forget Dane Reynolds, who could also go totally haywire in the predicted small conditions.
Oh dear, it does look like it’s going to be small. The official Surfline forecast is here. But it looks like the WSL will want to get going at the beginning of the waiting period and make this most of a residual east swell as there's nothing significant on the horizon.
Who’s gonna shine?
Jordy has something in the mix that is brewing up for a big start. He found a formula towards the back half of last year that, if he finds again, will see him winning shit. John John took an early exit last year with a silly injury from an Air Show, and must be overdoing it on the froth count to get some sort of result at Snapper.
Who’s gonna choke?
The rookies are going to choke. The amount of pressure at the first event of the year, the experienced old salts desperate for a good start and prepared to smother every mistake, and the fact that most of them are inexperienced at Snapper apart from Banting.
What’s going to score?
Big air surfing, full risks, and big combos. Tubes as well, Tubes are always going to score. Good Snapper with a sandbank allows for everyone to open up full taps, so there is going to have to be versatility and repertoire to make differences.
Who’s going to score?
Last year the Brazilian presence was overwhelming, with a gaggle of poison g-string girls, Medina’s extended family, and numerous Brazilian expats down to show their support. This year that female entourage is going to be way bigger, and it’s going to be fun for everyone.
On the side:
The Tracks party at Rainbow Bay Surf Club on the 4th, Komune every night of the week, the Snapper RSL for good food and beer all day every day, and a horde of industry parties and gatherings too numerous to mention. Be strong.
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Ricardo Christie (ZAF)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS), TBD
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), TBD
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Kai Otton (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS), Nat Young (USA), Adam Melling (AUS)