The Top 17's faceoffs in Round 2, an elimination round, featured tense battles and heart-pounding close calls.
Things kicked off with a battle between Tour rookie Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and Tour vet Laura Enever (AUS). Weston-Webb, who surfed her way to a Semifinal finish on the Gold Coast, was clearly the visionary when it came to wave selection from the opening minutes to the end. But just when her win seemed imminent, Enever kicked into gear and scored a 7.03 with fresh surge of energy and verve. Needing 7.08 to win and with time running out, she quickly found another wave and attacked it with total focus.
Her score didn't come in until well after the buzzer, leaving her and Weston-Webb to wait nervously. But a win was not to be: The rookie came out on top, reinforcing her growing reputation as a serious threat this season.
Weston-Webb is one of the most exciting faces on Tour this season, but she's not the only one making waves, so to speak. Next up was Silvana Lima (BRA) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in a lopsided heat. Van Dijk brought local knowledge and clean carves to the game, scoring a pair of scores in the 7-point range for a solid foundation.
But Lima was just that much stronger, not to mention exciting to watch. She scored and 8.00 and back it up with a crowd-pleasing 9.50, leaving Van Dijk needing two new scores, and empty-handed by heat's end.
"I just surf for myself and I'm so stoked to win," said Lima. "I went for the smaller waves, which turned out well because they just kept going and going. I think I surfed really well so I'm proud of me. I've got some new boards and they're really good."
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the round was in Heat 4, when Alessa Quizon (HAW), who's ranked No. 13, eliminated World No. 5 Malia Manuel (HAW). The biggest scores, meanwhile, came from Courtney Conlogue (USA), who unequivocally dominated. She took down Sage Erickson (USA), while earning the second-highest total heat score of the event so far.
"I actually kept my board from last year and pulled it out for this year," said Conlogue. "I want to ring that Bell so bad. I don't think anyone wants to ring it as bad as I do. Last year having to pull out and not getting the chance to see it through was really difficult. I want to give it all I've got and see where it goes."
The competition got right into Round 3, which saw defending back-to-back event winner Carissa Moore (HAW) show impressive form against Lima and Johanne Defay (FRA). The two-time World Champion had the field in a combination situation with an excellent 18.50 heat total, delivering both the highest single-wave score and two-wave heat total of the day, a 9.67 and an 18.50.
"I'm just working on keeping myself in a happy heat," said Moore. "I don't feel like I did my best surfing in my heat but I'm so stoked to make it through."
Catch Round 4 when the action resumes; the next call is at 7:00 a.m. local time Monday, April 6 LIVE at worldsurfleague.com. Plus, get the action to go with the new WSL app.