MARGARET RIVER, WA/Australia (Friday, March 22, 2013) - The field of 18 women has been reduced to just four and the men's field of 96 is down to a mere 24 as things start to get serious in the surf in South West WA. The swell dropped at Surfer's Point Margaret River today, but there was still plenty of punchy sections with surf in the 4-foot-range (1.5 meters). Event officials made the call to run the Women's Quarterfinals, followed by the Men's Round of 48, and non-elimination Round of 24.
Stop No. 2 of 8 on the ASP Women's World Championship Tour, the 2013 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro has just four Semifinalists remaining, coincidentally the same four Semifinalists from the season opening event on the Gold Coast.
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.
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), reigning five-time ASP Women's World Champion today advanced into the Semifinals over former two-time Drug Aware Margaret River Pro champion and form surfer of this year's event Courtney Conlogue (USA). Both Gilmore and Conlogue struggled in today's conditions that were dramatically different from yesterday, but it was Gilmore who was able to find the right waves and link together multiple explosive turns to earn the biggest scores of the heat and advance.
"Courtney (Conlogue) is the hardest one to beat out here," Gilmore said. "She's won here before and she just charges in these waves. It was a blessing the conditions changed and I could kind of sneak around and pick the inside ones. I've already matched my result from the first event of the year, hopefully I can go one better and make the Final. With four events back-to-back it's so important to be consistent."
Carissa Moore (HAW), 2011 ASP Women's World Champion took out fellow Hawaiian Coco Ho (HAW) in Quarterfinal 2 today, setting up an epic Semifinal match-up against Gilmore. Moore was on point today and didn't seem troubled at all by the testing conditions posting an 8.00 (out of a possible 10) and backed it up with a 7.17.
"Steph (Gilmore) has beaten me more often than not, so I'm just looking forward to putting up a good fight," Moore said. "She's been ASP World Champ five times and I'm excited about surfing against her. I'm feeling great and I'm having a lot of fun and I hope it shows in my surfing. I love Western Australia, it's beautiful, I haven't been here for four years. I have my dad here, my boyfriend just flew in last night and I'm excited to enjoy this beautiful place with them."
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) was the standout performer in this morning's Quarterfinals with a dominant win over Hawaiian Alana Blanchard (HAW). Fitzgibbons locked in an excellent score of 8.67 after she unleashed a barrage of fast and powerful hooks and carves.
"It feels like I'm building on each performance throughout this event," Fitzgibbons said. "That felt like a great heat for me because it's really challenging out there and I still found some scores. I like to be out there early, it wakes me up and gets me in the zone ready to compete. I haven't been paying too much attention to who's been getting through the heats, you kind of expect the big seeds to still be standing at this point of the event."
Kolohe Andino (USA) wasn't at all fazed by the bumpy and onshore conditions, launching big turns and critical aerials. It's Andino's Birthday and he celebrated with a heat win over Julian Wilson (AUS), Chris Friend (AUS) and Gabe Kling (USA) who finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively.
"The waves are fun and I was excited to get out there," Andino said. "I've surfed four-man heats my whole life, then last year I got on the ASP WCT and had to adjust to man-on-man, and now here I am having to get used to four-man heats again. When I was younger I'd just try and catch a bunch of waves and it usually worked, so I just tried to do that. It's my birthday so I just wanted to catch waves and keep it fun and light spirited."
Granger Larsen (HAW) has been just outside the ASP World Championship Tour qualification bubble for the past couple of seasons and today showed why he's a threat at any ASP PRIME event. Larson mixed both traditional power carves with new school airs and fin throws to easily win his Round of 48 heat and advance to the Round of 24.
"Margaret River is always tough to get waves in the four-man heats," Larson said. "I was lucky enough to get my two best scores in the first five minutes of the heat. After that the other guys were scrapping for waves and I was just cruising out the back waiting for the good ones. Most of the Prime and Star events are at beachbreaks so I love this event because it's a reef break and I grew up surfing waves like this so I'm stoked to be here."
"Some heats can be inconsistent so I just tried to catch a lot of waves," De Souza said. "I know I had Adam (Melling), Jordy (Smith) and Nate (Yeomans) which is a very tough heat. I'm glad to get through, hopefully the next one is easier."
Marc Lacomare (FRA) took out the most entertaining and in some ways the most bizarre heat of the day. Brazilian ASP WCT surfer Filipe Toledo (BRA) was holding onto a comfortable lead with only a few minutes left in the heat when Lacomare paddled for a wave and was cut off by Toledo who was then penalised with an interference and lost half of his second score as a result. Lacomare saw his chance, seized two waves in the last five minutes and scored a massive 9.20 and 8.43 to take the heat win.
"I feel really good because I had a really slow start to the heat," Lacomare said. "We (Filipe Toledo) both went on the same wave and I fell off. I didn't know who would get the interference because they have been happening all event. Then I came back with a couple of big scores and I'm really happy to win the heat. I saw that last wave coming and I said to myself 'this is it' and I got the score to win. I'm very happy."
Event info, photos, videos and more - www.margaretriverpro.com