RAINBOW BAY, Queensland/Australia (Tuesday, March 5, 2013) - The world's best surfers donned the competitor's singlet for this first time this season as Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover was completed in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) at Rainbow Bay.
Event No. 1 of 10 on the 2013 ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast will set the tone for the world's best surfers this season and if the performances of today are any indication, the talent pool amongst this year's ASP Top 34 runs historically deep.
Travis Logie (ZAF), 32, veteran goofy-footer from South Africa, took top honors this morning, posting the day's high heat total of an 18.20 out of a possible 20 for a series of critical backhand combinations.
"It feels so good to start the year off with a heat win," Logie said. "The past few seasons, my starts have been inconsistent, but I'm healthy, I have good boards under my feet and I feel like I'm surfing at the highest level of my career. The draw is so gnarly these days - guys like Adriano (de Souza) and Dusty (Payne) are deadly at any venue on tour and that pretty much goes for the entire Top 34 right now. Really stoked to get a win and hope the waves keep pumping this week."
This morning's win vaults Logie directly into Round 3 of the event.
Mick Fanning (AUS), 31, two-time ASP World Champion (2007, 2009) and two-time Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner (2005, 2007), posted an emphatic Round 1 win today utilizing his intimate knowledge of the venue and razor-sharp precision to tear apart the reeling righthanders of Rainbow Bay.
"It's a new year and everyone is feeling fresh," Fanning said. "When I was younger, I mostly stuck to Snapper Rocks and Kirra, but since the sand has filled in, I've spent a lot of time surfing through Rainbow Bay. It's a fun wave and provides a nice wall for a variety of maneuvers. Compared to Snapper and Kirra though, I think Rainbow probably lessens the local advantage as it's a pretty user-friendly canvas."
After finishing 3rd in 2012, Fanning has reset his focus in 2013 and is back in the hunt for the ASP World Crown.
"That's the goal every year - to with the title," Fanning said. "Seeing Joel (Parkinson) win last year was great because he's a mate, but it's back to the job at hand this season. There are no easy heats and everyone on tour is a threat."
Kelly Slater (USA), 41, 11-time ASP World Champion, finished Runner-Up in 2012 but was back with a vengeance today, posting a strong come-from-behind win over up-and-comer Kolohe Andino (USA), 18, and wildcard Dane Reynolds (USA), 27.
"It's always motivating surfing against good surfers," Slater said. "Dane (Reynolds) is one of the best surfers on the planet and Kolohe (Andino) is starting to come into his own. I think it's the same as everyone though. We can enjoy our off seasons, but then we all come back here and it's game on again."
John John Florence (HAW), 20, 2012 ASP WCT No. 4 and Dream Tour sophomore, continued his momentum from last season today, exhibiting a unique blend of style and progression to post a solid Round 1 win.
"It's a new year and everyone is excited to be here," Florence said. "I've had a pretty good off season. It was short, but I was able to do some different things like travel to New York and recharge and get ready for the year. The level of surfing on tour is the highest it's ever been and it's exciting to be a part of."
Gabriel Medina (BRA), 19, secured an impressive come-from-behind victory in his Round 1 bout today against Kieren Perrow (AUS), 35, and Tiago Pires (PRT), 32. Midway through the heat, Medina was sidelined by an injury to his left ankle forcing him to return to the beach. Despite clearly being in pain, the young Brazilian returned to the lineup before locking in a 9.50 single-wave score for a series of critical backhand maneuvers. Medina would take the heat win before journeying to hospital for x-rays and diagnostics.
Matt Wilkinson (AUS), 24, caused the upset of the day, relegating the reigning ASP World Champion and local favorite Joel Parkinson (AUS), 31, to the elimination Round 2. Wilkinson's backhand flow and flair was unmatched today as the Central Coast goofy-footer locked in the event high single wave score of a 9.93 out of a possible 10 en route to his Round 1 win.
"It feels good to post a win over someone like Joel (Parkinson)," Wilkinson said. "He obviously knows the banks here better than everyone, but I feel like I've been surfing well the last couple years - things just haven't been going my way. I definitely feel like I surf stronger on my backhand and the waves lined up for me in that heat. Pumped to be through to Round 3 and hope to keep it pushin'."
When competition resumes, up first will be Parkinson against event wildcard Brent Dorrington (AUS) in the opening heat of Round 2.
Event organizers will reconvene at 6:30am tomorrow to assess conditions for a possible 8am start.
Highlights from the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Land Rover will be available via quiksilverlive.com
For more information, log onto ASPWorldTour.com