Drug Aware Margaret River Women's Pro

Swell Arrives, Performance Levels Rise at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro

Will Hayden-Smith

MARGARET RIVER, WA/Australia (Thursday, March 21, 2013) - After three long lay-days the highly anticipated swell arrived at Surfer's Point Margaret River, and produced excellent surf in the 6-to-8-foot-range (2-2.5 meter) all day. The maxing swell was matched by a mammoth day of surfing with the Women's Round 3, Round 4 and the Men's Round 96 all completed with dozens of standout performances and exciting heats.

Stop No. 2 of 8 on the ASP Women's World Championship Tour, the 2013 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro ran through two rounds of competition and culled the field that started with 18 surfers, to just eight Quarterfinalists.

The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro is also the first men's ASP PRIME rated event for the 2013 season, offering maximum points towards 2014 ASP World Championship Tour qualification campaigns.

Conlogue looks poised for a third consecutive title at Margaret River. - WSL

Courtney Conlogue (USA), reigning two-time event champion was on point at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro this morning, selecting the best waves of her Round 3 heat and sliced them apart with surgical precision. Conlogue advanced into the Quarterfinals where she will take on Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).

"It's nice to finally have some waves today," Conlogue said. "The conditions are great, it's super glassy and the swell has picked up. All of the girls are stoked to be running. I saw that wave I got the nine on and I saw that everyone else was on the other side and I was like 'yes!' I caught the wave and it was a great wave, if we have more of them it's going to be a great day of competition. Hopefully I get more of those in my next heat."

Coco Ho (HAW) fought through a tight Round 3 heat, but came out on top to advance directly into the Quarterfinals. Ho was a standout performer at the season opening event on the Gold Coast, but was eliminated by Alana Blanchard (HAW) in the most exciting and high scoring heat of the event. Ho is keen to bounce back with a solid result here at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro.

"I had some really unlucky heats at Snapper, so I'm stoked to be into the Quarterfinals," Ho said. "I had a good heat with Steph (Gilmore) at the last event and she beat me, so it feels good to get her back. It feels good to be in form and getting good results because I feel like I could be a contender for the ASP World Title this year. I'm stoked to be here in Western Australia, in some ways it feels a lot like home because of the power of the waves and we get to ride some bigger boards. This wave is amazing, I think it's like a mix of Sunset and Haleiwa, so I feel right at home!"

Tyler Wright (AUS), current ASP Women's World No. 1 after taking out the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, was hit by a head cold earlier in the event, but after three lay-days she was back to her best today. Wright easily took out (/athletes/360/paige-hareb)Paige Hareb] (NZL) and Lakey Peterson (AUS) to win her Round 3 clash and advance directly into the Quarterfinals where she will have a re-match with Paige Hareb (NZL).

"It was great to have a few days off, the swell was literally flat so I got to recover and feel better," Wright said. "I'm glad there's swell again today because I was itching to go surfing. It was pumping in that heat, pretty much wave after wave. I saw the heat before me have some interferences, and that happened to me in the Final here four years ago. Sometimes when it's big like this you can't even see the other girl paddling for the wave. I almost dropped in on Paige (Hareb), you've just got to be really careful out there."

Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), reigning 5-time ASP Women's World Champion uncharacteristically finished last in her non-elimination Round 3 heat this morning. Gilmore then faced the daunting prospect of a re-match with the local trials winner, Felicity Palmateer, (AUS) in Round 4. Gilmore rose to the occasion, and posted two excellent scores late in the heat to finish with a two-wave total of 18.00 (out of a possible 20) to Palmateer's 7.70.

"I wasn't trying to get back at Felicity (Palmateer) I was trying to get revenge on this wave because it's so challenging," Gilmore said. "Felicity was going to be the most dangerous wildcard at this wave so I was nervous, I was almost learning where to sit out there from her. Although I had an advantage in some ways because the rights were really good in that heat and they're on my forehand. It was good to surf some bigger waves and get the heart pumping."

Jadson Andre (BRA) won the first men's heat of the day that was a drama filled affair. Event No. 3 seed (/athletes/555/taj-burrow)Taj Burrow] (AUS) and fellow Australian Lincoln Taylor (AUS) both paddled for, and dropped in on the same wave, and both surfers were penalised with a interference and lost half of their back up scores as a result. Burrow and Taylor both posted excellent scores, but couldn't get past Brazilian pair - Andre and Caio Ibelli (BRA), who took the opportunity head on and tore the waves apart and advanced into the Round of 48 together.

"You know when you have Taj (Burrow) and Lincoln (Taylor) in a heat it's going to be a really tough one," Andre said. "Taj is one of the best surfers in the world and Lincoln knows how to get big scores. Then I saw them get an interference and I though 'this is my heat'. Then they started getting big scores and I was a bit worried and I knew I had to do something big to make the heat."

"I was stoked to advance with Caio (Ibelli)," Andre said. "I helped him all through the trials and now we advance together. Last year I had a tough year with injuries to my knee, groin, ankle and everything. It was tough. I'm healthy and 100% and I'm going to try my best to re-qualify."

Marc Lacomare (FRA) looked right at home in the pumping and pristine conditions at Surfer's Point, Margaret River today. All four surfers in the heat posted decent scores and the final two were decided in the final seconds with Alejo Muniz (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.

"I love it here at this event!" Lacomare said. "I made the Quarterfinals a couple of years ago and it's the one contest of the year that I know I can do well at. After three lay-days I was stressing about my heat, so I'm stoked to make it. In the PRIME events there are so many ASP WCT surfers it's so hard to watch because everyone is so good, I just try to go and surf my best."

Owen Wright (AUS) who suffered a shock equal last place finish at the season opening event on the Gold Coast, bounced back with an impressive heat at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro today.

"That heat was really fun!" Wright said. "That heat was a bit slower than some of the others today, I think I caught some of the best waves. I just try to focus on that first section and just try to hit it as high as I can and I did that on one wave and got an 8. It's such a big section and there's power in the waves and it gives the surfers a chance to show what you can do. I got a bit of anger out, I'm disappointed with my result from the event on the Gold Coast. I'm fired up for this event, but I'm event more fired up for Bells!"

Event info, photos, videos and more - www.margaretriverpro.com