The 2017 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will forever be remembered for Owen Wright's incredibly heart wrenching comeback story. His surfing on Finals day was vintage Owen - deep, fading backside bottom turns followed by over-rotated, fin release wafts. At first glance he lulls you to sleep, next thing you know he's cracked off three rhythmic turns with absurd fluidity. He's a surfer's surfer.
It was an emotional day full of twists and turns, not the least of which was Matt Wilkinson's return to the Final at Snapper for the second straight year. Florence, Medina, Slater and Parkinson made their intentions clear and all wrapped up solid results. Fanning, Smith and Andino will need to do better at the Margaret River event if they hope to stay in touch with the early leaders. The Title chase is officially on, and there are heaps of great stories and moments to look forward to as the Tour moves to West Oz.
On the women's side of the draw, the Roxy Pro saw the return of the Queen of Coolangatta, Stephanie Gilmore. It's an incredible sixth win at Snapper for a surfer with inherent grace, and a style perfectly suited for the legendary Sandbank. Back from an injury-plagued 2016, runner-up Lakey Peterson has re-emerged as a genuine contender. Her surfing has finally caught up to her athleticism. She'll be an interesting and fresh addition to the upper echelon of the Tour.
The next two stops on tour, Margaret River and Bells Beach, play to the strengths of the other top contenders - Carissa Moore, Tyler Wright and Courtney Conlogue. They'll need to raise their game to keep up.