Yesterday saw the southern coastline of Western Australia light up for the first day of the 2014 ASP Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. The main break of Surfers Point produced clean, predominantly right hand 4-6 foot waves for both the top men and women to compete in. The sun was shining and the crowds were out in full force as we all watched on to see competitors go head to head in Round 1.
Opening day of the 2014 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro – Photo by ASP
Men’s was first in the water, with Heat 1 seeing Brazilian Felipe Toledo, Nat Young and Spain’s Aritz Aranburo come head to head, ready to impress judges and all spectators. Toledo got ahead through great combinations and aggressive carves, defeating ASP Rookie of the Year Nat Young and Aranudo, advancing through to Round 3.
Heat 2 saw some great surfing go down and saw South African Jordy Smith, Raoni Monteiro and Sebastian Zietz out in the line-up. The heat was postponed and forced to restart after the first 10 minutes due to swell inconsistency, with competitors not putting a score on the board. Jordy eventually opened his campaign whole heartedly, producing the first big scores of the competition. With his rhythm found, he scored an 8.33 and continued to dominate the heat by following up with more powerful carves, much different surfing from his Round 2 knockout a few weeks ago at Snapper Rocks. “I’d like to better my result at Snapper (Rocks),” said Smith. “It’s a long year ahead and I’m sure that many of the tops guys will have bad results at some point. Hopefully my result at the Gold Coast was my bad one out of the way and I can look forward to a good year ahead.”
Local legend of the Margaret River region Taj Burrow managed to scrape through in the final minutes and steal the win over Brett Simpson and Fred Patacchia in Heat 3, though it was a very slow heat with not many big scores going down. Heat 4 saw an all Aussie line-up in the water, with Adam Melling, Joel Parkinson and Mitch Coleborn trying to make the most of the inconsistent conditions. Although having a knee injury, Melling was able to gain a 7.67 and advanced to Round 3, leaving his fellow countrymen behind.
Eyes were on Kelly Slater all morning as the unconfirmed rumours of the split with Quiksilver was on everyone’s mind. Slater emerged ready for his Round 1 Heat 5 encounter with no evident Quiksilver logos on his nose or wetsuit and met Australians Yadin Nicol and Bede Durbidge. Though eyes may have been on Kelly, it was trials winner Yadin Nicol who exploded on the scene, opening with big, powerful turns and taking advantage of both right and left handers. On his pink board of fury, Nicol took out the heat and pushed Slater and Durbidge to Round 2.
Yadin Nicol on his way to victory in Heat 5 – Photo by ASP
Heat 6 saw 3 times World Champion Mick Fanning meet other Australians Nathan Hedge and Matt Wilkinson. All surfers bought a great mix of surfing to the table, though it was Fanning who treated the clean right handers like his own backyard and dominated the heat, progressing the Round 3.
Although only catching 3 waves, it was Julian Wilson who destroyed Heat 7 finishing on a final score of 16.00. Wilson met Frenchman Jeremy Flores and Dion Atkinson, coming out on top through displays of powerful cutbacks, carves and floaters.
Brazillian Miguel Pupo took out a very slow Heat 8 over fellow goofy footers C.J. Hobgood and Travis Logie, and it was Australian Josh Kerr who became victorious in Heat 9. Kerr was supposed to meet both Adrian Buchan and Alejio Muniz, though Muniz was absent due to an ankle injury, prompting a man on man heat. A former winner of the event, Kerr looked comfortable and bested his opponent, succeeding to Round 3. By Heat 10 the conditions had started to deteriorate, with the waves becoming choppy and onshore winds getting stronger out of the south west. Jadson Andre from Brazil conquered over Owen Wright and Adriano de Souza and in Heat 11 Kai Otton defeated Mitch Crews and Tahitian Michel Bourez.
Heat 12 was a very exciting on the other hand, with the young guns coming together for some explosive moves and some very entertaining surfing. Current ASP World Number 1 Gabriel Medina met Hawaiian John John Florence and America’s Kohole Andino and all three wowed audiences through their technical surfing abilities. It was John John who started first engaging with some big opening manoeuvres, though Medina did not back down and threw out a massive backhand 360 aerial, cementing it in everyone’s minds why he is currently at the top of the ladder. “I started doing airs because I saw John John (Florence) going for it. That’s how competition works, we are all pushing each other to raise the level. It feels good to be the Rankings leader, there is pressure but I’m feeling great.” said the current Men’s World Number 1.
Gabriel Medina huge 360 aerial in Heat 12 – Photo by ASP
The waves have again produced today with the Women’s Round 2 being held this morning. Although a little smaller, there are still some great contestable waves which no doubt will have some stand out performances. A decision will be held later today regarding the contestability of the waves for Men’s Round 2 to begin.
Keep up to date with all the latest recaps, news and results on the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro here on the SurfStitch blog or watch it live at aspworldtour.com.