Hit the reset button. Flip open a fresh new page. The chalkboard's been wiped. The slate is clean. The Women's Championship Tour canvas is empty. On Day One of the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, the girls brought their paint brushes. Today each competitor began their respective 2017 Tour campaigns and by year's end, one will paint her personal masterpiece.
Plus, 64 percent of the Roxy Pro Champions go on to win a World Title… so there's that, too.
Regardless, through schools of cheeky bluebottle jellyfish wrapping around their legs, what separated the heat winners from the rest of the surfers was about 90 degrees. As in, the heat winners surfed vertically, while the other two in the water had their boards more horizontal.
But the bluebottles were causing a lot of issues. Laura Enever had to leave her heat due to getting stung and the allergic reaction that followed. Luckily, after medical attention, she recovered.
Three-time World Champion Carissa Moore led the charge out of the Tour's current batch of past-World Champions competing this year. While Enever had to leave because of those vicious jellies, Moore continued to find mini tubes in the meager conditions, linking them with confident power wraps.
Revealing herself to be an bonafide Title contender this year, Tatiana Weston-Webb's deadly, lightening quick backhand attack pushed her through her heat. While there's yet to be a goofyfooter in the Women's CT to win at Snapper, Weston-Webb just might break open the flood-gates, a la Gabriel Medina from the Mens Tour in 2014, and Wilko following suit last year.
"I feel like I'm surfing the best I've ever surfed before," said Tatiana Weston-Webb. "I just feel really ready and my surfing is at that level that I want it to be."
Plus, Tatiana is getting pointers from her boyfriend Jesse Mendes - currently No. 1 on the Mens QS - so that kind of inside info must be helping her game. (He told her to sit under everyone, farther inside, and obviously that worked.)
Among the other real threats on Tour looking to move into that Title contender tier, women like Silvana Lima and Sally Fitzgibbons were showing their true colors in the snappy Snapper rights. Lima nearly landed two air-reverses (not for lack of effort), while Fitzgibbons cranked off a certified Dane Reynolds-style turn on her last wave of the heat. Sally advanced with that last wave, too.
"That was a tricky one but it felt so amazing having that first one under the belt," said Fitzgibbons. "It came down to the wire and I think I heard over the loud speaker that I'd just come short, but I had that last little opportunity at the end and I love that about this place."
In the end, it was Nikki Van Dijke that earned the highest score, and perhaps the most solid surfing of the day with an 8.83-point flurry of maneuvers, showcasing her compact and explosive style. The kind of surfing throughout the entire heat that had her combo-ing 2016 World Champ Tyler Wright at one point.
"I knew that I just had to start it off with a banger," said Nikki Van Dijk. "Start strong and then back it up and build from there. Sure, it feels good to beat a current World Champ, but it just felt like a sponsor trip session with her or something." (Van Dijk and Wright are Rip Curl teammates.)
"Those bluebottles are nasty, though," Van Dijk continued. "You literally have to grab them off of you while they're stinging you to get them off. But if that's the worst of them, then I'm not complaining."
And we're not either. Despite the onshore wind, the girls got Day One going with a bang. Indeed, paint is now drying on this year's canvas and we cannot wait for the brilliant picture to show.