After waiting for the tide to drop, Round 2 of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast got going mid-morning.
With conditions still inconsistent, wave selection played a big part in surfers' scores. In Heat 2, Johanne Defay (FRA) caught more waves than Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), and scored a 9.00 on one of the bigger ones of the heat. But Van Dijk's selectivity paid off, matching her excellent-range score -- an 8.10 -- with a 7.37 for a higher heat total and a narrow win.
"Every heat I have against Johanne we both put up a good fight," Van Dijkâ€‹ said. "I think it's good to know that going into a heat, knowing that you'll have to work for it. That was a really crazy heat and I was so nervous at the end. I'm so happy to make it through and I can't wait for the next round."
Tense moments prevailed in Heat 3 as the reigning World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) lagged behind event wildcard Bronte Macaulay (AUS) for the majority of the matchup. Macaulay used smooth backhand carves for two midrange scores. Gilmore, meanwhile, stalled mid-heat with an 8.17 but no decent backup score as the ocean went flat. With great composure, she took off with less than a minute to go and strung together a variety of maneuvers for a 7.10 and a come-from-behind victory.
"I always get nervous before a competition but I think that's a good thing," Gilmore â€‹said. "You can never underestimate your opponent, especially someone like Bronte, who's so talented and has great tactics in a heat. I tried to be patient and trust that I would get the scores I needed. There was definitely some moments of butterflies, but I had faith in Snapper."
Another standout performance came from the sole rookie on Tour, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), who upset last year's event runner-up, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), with a non-stop backhand attack. The Kauaian took off on more than 10 waves and accumulated a heat total of 15.93 for the go-ahead to Round 3.
"Out there some waves just form on the bank and you never know which ones," said Weston-Webbâ€‹. "I just wanted to stay busy, that was my goal going out there and I did. I lucked out by getting a few good inside ones that ran with a wall."
In the final heat of the day, Coco Ho (HAW) was able to combine the smooth transitions of Defay's high score with the length of ride the judges liked from Weston-Webb. The mix earned her the highest single-wave score of the round, a 9.23. Despite a strong showing, Evener was left chasing a near-perfect score and wasn't able to better Ho's 16.16 two-wave heat total.
"That heat was scary," Ho â€‹said. "I was really glad to get some waves, be able to surf and get the chance to do my thing. It was nice surfing at the end of the day because I got to watch everyone else and let them figure it out for me."
Tune in to Dawn Patrol Wednesday, March 4 at 7:30 a.m. local time for the next call for the Roxy Pro Gold Coast LIVE at worldsurfleague.com.