Strong winds at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro made the lineup challenging to navigate at times, so experience was everything. That usually means top seeds rolling through but Laura Enever made sure her years on Tour mattered and found her first heat win since last year's Round Four in Fiji.
Up against Johanne Defay in Round Two, Laura held the lead with a single midrange score while both surfers tried to find a decent ride in the turbulent lineup. When Defay did find a score, Laura topped it and found herself with a spot in Round Three.
Malia Manuel has had some tight heats but her domination in Round Two was undebatable. In her matchup with rookie Keely Andrew, Malia opened with a seven-pointer and her big hacks saw her steadily increase her lead as the 30-minute affair progressed.
All the wind and chop meant surfers had to pack an extra punch to pull off clean maneuvers. This gave the taller surfers--particularly tall South Africans--a break: Jordy Smith had a big day in the men's contest and Bianca Buitendag was able to handle Chelsea Tuach to avoid an early exit.
Trials winner Felicity Palmateer from Perth has knowledge of Main Break's twists and turns but not the contest experience of Tyler Wright. Currently No. 2 in the world, Wright accumulated an 18-point total with two waves. Her control over the bumpy open face impressed the judges.
Stephanie Gilmore has had to surf in Round Two during each of the Australian stops this season. Good news for her is that she's usually so angry to be there she just annihilates her opponents. Steph has earned excellent-range score in all three Round Two heats she's competed and today was no different: she found an 8.17 to keep Coco Ho at bay and advance to Round Three.
With most of the Round Two competitors keeping their first score good or bad, Sage Erickson made sure hers was significant. Sage took advantage of the forehand-friendly conditions and earned an 8.17 on her opening ride for long, clean cutbacks. She'll face Carissa Moore and Bianca Buitendag in non-elimination Round Three when competition resumes.