The ASP 6-Star Hurley Australian Open of Surfing charged through smaller surf today, completing half of Round 2 of the men's as well as the opening round of the women's event.
Julian Wilson, the event's No. 1 seed after finishing 6th on the elite ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) last season, started the day with an impressive win in the difficult conditions. Wilson scored an 8.50 (out of a possible 10) for two explosive backhand turns, advancing through to the next round.
"It's tricky out there this morning," Wilson said. "I wanted to go left, it's easier to go backside when it's small. That 8.50 was easily the best wave that came through during the heat, it was only two manoeuvres, but you have to make the most of the opportunities out there. I'm ready for a big year, my equipment feels good and I'm feeling healthy. I just want to keep the momentum that I had through the end of last year."
Yadin Nicol snuck through a tricky heat this morning, catching a wave in the last 45 seconds that saw him jump from 3rd to 2nd place and advancing through to the next round. In the process, Nicol eliminated local Manly surfer Nick Butler who got bumped out of 2nd place in front of an adoring hometown crowd.
"Nothing was going right for me at all out there," Nicol said. "It was slow and I should have probably tried to catch more waves at the start of that heat. Everytime Nick (Butler) stood up the whole beach was screaming, it's a bummer for him to lose like that."
Indonesia's Oney Anwar equaled the event's highest single-wave score when he posted a an excellent 9.50 for a rapid-fire series of forehand blasts, making the most of the smaller conditions.
"I knew that surfing against the WCT guys like Adam Melling was going to be hard," Anwar said. "It was a good chance for me to give it my best and see how I go against those guys. The waves were tough, but still super fun, my board went amazing out there. Getting a 9 gave me so much confidence."
Heitor Alves of Brazil lit up Manly Beach at the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing today, posting two scores in the 8-point-range to easily win his heat and advance into the next round. Alves is one of the most experienced surfers in the draw and is looking for a big start to the year to help him re-claim a spot on the elite ASP World Championship Tour.
"I'm trying to stay relaxed and focused because the waves are hard, I just waited for the best ones and I made it," Alves said. "Last year was a bad year for me because I didn't get many good results, but now I'm ready and focused and feeling good. It's great to be at a big event like this, I love the US Open, and this is the same. Thanks to everyone for watching and for all the support."
Fellow Brazilian Filipe Toledo lived up to the hype today, blowing away his competitors and putting on a spectacular display for the fans. Toledo carved, turned and threw his tail around, relishing the small but punchy surf at Manly Beach today.
"This is a really fun beachbreak," Toledo said. "There are a lot of Brazilians in this contest, it's great to all be together to support and cheer for each other. This is a great contest and I'm really hoping to go far."
American Nikki Viesins posted the highest single wave score of the women's event today, earning a near-perfect 9.50 (out of a possible 10). This is Viesins's first time in Australia and she's making the most of the Florida-like conditions.
"I come from Florida where the surf is small most of the year so I felt really comfortable in those conditions," Viesins said. "I'm really excited to be here, this is my first time in Australia. It's really beautiful here, this event is super cool and I'm loving it. I saw the Opera House, I went on a ferry and I've been enjoying the surf."
The Hurley Australian Open of Surfing is being webcast LIVE via www.AustralianOpenofSurfing.com