Date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Schedule: Women's Round 1, 2 and 3
Conditions: 3-to-5-foot faces at Lower Trestles
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF)
An early exchange kicked off Heat 4 action shortly after the horn. While Alessa Quizon and Bianca Buitendag found themselves slightly behind on their timing, Tyler Wright registered an excellent 8.83 for a long ride on her forehand that included multiple carves under the lip and a finishing vertical snap. The ensuing lull kept Quizon and Buitendag out of the lead with smaller scores and just a tenth of a point between them.
As the clock ticked down to the halfway mark, each took off on backhand rides, again registering similar, midrange scores with a slightly higher score going to the Hawaiian. The backup numbers put them temporarily ahead of Wright but the Australian found another excellent-range score using another combination of forehand snaps through the lip. Coming off of a win at the Vans US Open of Surfing in July, Wright kept up her momentum, and won the heat.
Results: Tyler Wright 17.43, Alessa Quizon 14.24, Bianca Buitendag 12.50
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Dimity Stoyle (AUS)
Sally Fitzgibbons, the top-seeded surfer of Heat 3, led the pack with a pair of midrange six-pointers, displaying her power and precise hacks. Close behind were fellow Aussie Dimity Stoyle and France's Johanne Defay. But Fitzgibbons's fierce competitive approach kept her pushing to solidify her lead; she bettered her scoreline with a 6.77 before it was all over, and went straight to the Quarters, her opponents relegated to a second round of eliminations.
"It's been a big day, which has been good because you can get into a rhythm, Fitzgibbons said. "It was a tricky read but I'm stoked I made it through."
Results: Sally Fitzgibbons 13.34, Dimity Stoyle 12.37, Johanne Defay 12.13
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vw. Laura Enever (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)
It was a battle of Hawaiians, with Coco Ho and Carissa Moore in a tight battle for the win with one seven-pointer apiece for the first half and Ho taking the lead. With the energy in the water having faded, Laura Enever waited for her wave, but by the halfway point was still scoreless.
Ho backed up her 7.50 with a 6.50, sneaking in under Enever's priority to solidify her lead. Moore, meanwhile, needed a solid second score, but her second score was a 6.67, not enough get the edge. Enever finally found a ride, but it died on the inside and earned a 4.33. The Hawaiians went wave-for-wave on a set in the dying moments, upping the tension and delaying the final score announcement. Moore's sweeping turns scored her an 8.97. Ho's tighter snaps in the pocket earned her an 8.67, keeping her in the lead by just 0.03 points and sending her straight to the Quarterfinals.
Results: Coco Ho 16.17, Carissa Moore 16.14, Laura Enever 4.33
Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Each surfer in the Round 3 opener had already been in the water twice. With the swell building to overhead on some sets, an opening exchange quickly unfolded. The five-time World Champ immediately established herself as the heat favorite, belting a nine-point ride on her first takeoff. Pauline Ado recorded a second midrange score to hold the lead briefly, but Stephanie Gilmore only needed a small score to regain the top spot and it wasn't long before one came. At the halfway mark, Gilmore led with Ado in second and Lakey Peterson in third.
With five minutes remaining, each surfer had a keeper and a low backup in her tally. When the final set rolled through, Gilmore tried taking off on a left but the wave closed out before she was able to make the most of it. The Californian took off next, pulling some powerful carves under the lip to push her into the lead. Ado, however, had found the best wave of the set, riding a long righthander for an excellent 8.17. But just when it looked like Ado would topple the higher-seeded surfers, Gilmore snuck into a workable peak and was able to pull off the score she needed for the win.
Results: Stephanie Gilmore 14.67, Pauline Ado 14.34, Lakey Peterson 13.37
Heat 6: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Facing off in a dropping tide, Nikki Van Dijk and Johanne Defay were neck-and-neck throughout their heat. Defay had the highest-scored wave with a 7.50, with a powerful frontside ride featuring precision and connection down the line.
The exchange between the women heated up in the final 10 minutes, as they each took off on every wave that they could, stabbing and hacking in an effort to edge out the other. It was one of the closest battles of the day so far, with a series of midrange scores that kept Van Dijk trailing Defay.
With just moments left, the Aussie worked her way down a smaller wave, seeing it through to the inside. The effort scored her a 7.00, just hundredths of a point shy of the score needed to overtake her opponent. Round 2 will mark the end of the road at Trestles for Van Dijk, with Defay moving on to the next round.
"I was pretty nervous, but it wasn't just because of the rankings," said Defay following her win. "I had a difficult fall, it's hard to forget. I'm just happy I made it and didn't fall so much."
Results: Johanne Defay 14.10 def. Nikki Van Dijk 13.50
Heat 5: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Pauline Ado, who looked somewhat uncomfortable during Round 1, wasted no time getting adjusted to the changing current. After Ado locked in a mediocre score, Malia Manuel launched her attack, powering through a soft wave for a 6.83. Ado backed up her opener shortly after, however, forcing the second lead change with only 10 minutes off the clock.
A see-saw battle unfolded for the second half of the heat. Manuel belted a 7.13, pushing Ado to search for an excellent score to take back the lead. Ado dropped in for a 7.70 while Manuel retained the lead with a combination of sevens. With moments remaining, Ado took off on a sizable opportunity, hacking away as the heat came to a close. Her last effort earned her an excellent 8.23 and the upset victory.
"I was relying on my rail surfing to make it through the heat," Manuel said. "Obviously, the judges didn't give it to me. Honestly, I thought I won the heat by a couple points. It's kind of shocking, the men use their rails and power and spray... Honestly, I thought it was the wrong result."
Result: Pauline Ado, 15.93, def. Malia Manuel, 14.73
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
The next elimination matchup saw World No. 4 Stephanie Gilmore compete against World No. 17 Alana Blanchard. Gilmore was quick to break out the power and grace for which she's known. Despite being relatively taller than the other surfer on the elite tour, at 5'10", the Aussie has mastered the art of follow-through, finishing big hacks with full turns and landings. That helped her score a 7.17, followed by an 8.90 that featured a huge floater and casual rail-grab to take the lead.
With just over 10 minutes on the clock, Blanchard was in a combo situation. Despite some solid maneuvers, her wave selection let her down in the points department. Plus, the Gilmore train just wouldn't stop. She followed up her eight-pointer with another, solidifying her lead and showing some fire in the belly for an event win.
"I didn't freesurf this morning because it's hard to get waves when the whole Tour is out there," Gilmore said. "The first heat I guess I didn't realize how much smaller it is today than it has been. This heat, I knew the waves would be better with less water on the rocks."
Results: Stephanie Gilmore, 17.83, def. Alana Blanchard, 14.06**
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Mahina Maeda (HAW)
With the weight of the Title race on Sally Fitzgibbons and the nothing-to-lose mentality of wildcard Mahina Maeda, anything could happen in the matchup. Maeda was able to establish an early lead but Fitzgibbons soon returned to form. She punctuated her now-seamless progression of moves with an excellent 8.17 and, by mid-heat, had created a substantial score gap between herself and her opponent.
Needing a nine-point ride, Maeda tried to pull off riskier moves on the smaller waves but managed only one keeper -- a 5.93. Without sizable opportunities, the wildcard was eliminated.
Despite her loss, Maeda was all smiles afterward, acknowledging it was time to go home and take a rest. "I'm blessed to be here and surf in this great event with all the top women," she said.
Result: Sally Fitzgibbons, 16.04, def. Mahina Maeda, 10.60
Heat 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Lakey Peterson got off to a strong start, scoring a 6.17 to take the lead over Kiwi Paige Hareb. Peterson, known for her power-surfing and new-school trickery, picked another set wave and laid down two perfect carves to earn a solid 7.83 and solidify her lead.
Hareb scored multiple waves, pulling off clean turns in smaller surf, but wasn't able to come up with a two-wave combo to top Peterson. The Santa Barbara native took the win, and moved on to Round 3.
"It's so special to be a part of the event when it's the first time it's being held," Peterson said. "[Round 2] is always a little bit scary, and Paige has been ripping."
Result: Lakey Peterson, 14.00, def. Paige Hareb, 10.60**
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
The first elimination round started with Courtney Conlogue defending her home break against Hawaiian Alessa Quizon. While the hometown hero looked busy early on, Quizon was the first to register a solid score -- a 7.17 -- for a line of backhand hacks, fins free of the lip.
Conlogue was able to force a lead change late in the heat with a five-point ride but Quizon backed up her opener with a 6.17, regaining charge of the heat and putting her opponent on high alert. But the tide flattened and Conlogue was eliminated.
Afterward, she acknowledged a tough loss. "I was out of the rhythm with the ocean," she said. "It was frustrating but you've got to start somewhere. It was a building block, I've got to learn from my mistakes. We'll see what happens in the later part of the season.
"The ocean has a magic rhythm that you want to get in," she added. "I've just got to find those magic moments."
Result: Alessa Quizon, 13.34, def. Courtney Conlogue, 8.23
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) vs. Johanne Defay (FRA)
Just an hour after high tide, Heat 6 had a long lull and a restart was called. It was a bit of a wait after the horn blew, but World No. 6 Lakey Peterson finally put up a significant score when she threw her signature hacks to earn a 5.67.
Bianca Buitendag and Johanne Defay had slower starts. Around the 20-minute mark, the South African broke out, using great wave selection to connect a string of massive backside hacks. The combination scored her a 9.03. Peterson had a solid ride herself and her two-wave total reversed the lead change.
Buitendag answered back with an 8.33 for the second lead change. With three minutes on the clock, Peterson sat out the back, waiting for a set wave that would earn her an 8.94 or better to move the needle. She found a big wave but took off too deep and couldn't get into a section. Defay tried again as well, dropping into a set wave, but it closed out and left her riding out the white water.
Results: Bianca Buitendag 17.36, Lakey Peterson 16.10, Johanne Defay 11.00
Heat 5: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
In her first heat since an injury at Bells Beach, Courtney Conlogue was out of the gate first, with a 4.17. French surfer Pauline Ado followed up next, with a negligible score during a slow start to the face-off. It wasn't until the 17-minute mark when Aussie power-surfer Tyler Wright chimed in on the action, taking off on a bigger wave to score a 6.00, and quickly followed up with a 4.77 to take the lead. Wright is coming off a win at the last elite women's contest, the Vans US Open of Surfing, which likely gave her some confidence coming in to the Swatch Pro.
A fired-up and in-form Conlogue, however, quickly caught up. She found her flow on a long wave to the inside, and took the lead. But Wright was not to be outdone: She broke out her back-foot tailwork on a similarly long wave to earn an 8.57 and took the win.
"[I don't have] a lot of experience [at Trestles], I've heard a lot about it," Wright said. "But that was the first time I had a lineup. I felt a little shaky out there. I referenced it as a skatepark, but I might want to retract that. There's a lot going on out there. There's a lot more going on than I thought there would be."
Results: Tyler Wright, 14.57, Courtney Conlogue, 12.07, Pauline Ado, 9.83
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Coco Ho (HAW) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
With sets rolling through more consistently, the surfers in Heat 4 had a quick opening exchange with Sally Fitzgibbons gaining a slight edge over her competitors. But Alana Blanchard showed more powerful surfing, ripping down the long rights for a combination of midrange scores and the heat lead.
Both Blanchard and Fitzgibbons improved on their bottom scores with the nod, again, going to the Australian who earned an 8.27 for a giant layback on a long wave. Coco Ho had managed only one keeper score in the opening 20 minutes -- a 5.77 -- but she lit up on a glassy peak, scoring the first nine-point ride and moving into second position. In the dwindling minutes, Ho scored a 6.90 to manage a huge come-from-behind win.
"My goal was to get a bomb off the start," Ho said. "I made a priority mistake and wanted to punch myself.
"When I had that [big] set, I had nothing to lose. I was really bummed that beginning of the heat didn't have many, so it was nice [when they came through]. A little sketchy on the backup, but I did it."
Result: Coco Ho 16.36, Sally Fitzgibbons 15.94, Alana Blanchard 13.56
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Mahina Maeda (HAW)
Paddling out in a yellow jersey -- the color reserved for World No. 1 -- Carissa Moore scored a 6.17 on the biggest wave in the opening 10 minutes. With nothing to lose, event wildcard Mahina Maeda barreled down a righthander for a midrange five and worked her forehand for a solid backup score and the heat lead.
Moore took off on a right for a fins-free hack and a closing stomp to regain the lead at the back end of the heat. Nikki Van Dijk went for a sizable left but she struggled to time her entry and finished the heat with minimal scores.
"I surfed a lot of heats out here when I was younger, but it was a lot different not having a hundred people out there holding the lineup," Moore said. As for the Title race: "If there's any pressure I'm definitely put it on myself. I just need to stay calm and take it one heat at a time."
Results: Carissa Moore 13.60, Mahina Maeda 11.50, Nikki Van Dijk 6.30
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Laura Enever (AUS) vs. Paige Hareb (NZL)
Five-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore and fellow Aussie Laura Enever notched minimal scores to start. But the Kiwi of the pack, Paige Hareb, quickly caught up with a pair of solid scores in the glassy conditions to take the lead by the halfway point.
It was Enever, however, who found the bigger waves as the minutes ticked down. Taking off on a left, she pulled a few big hacks, and on a right she caught a quick floater that impressed. The waves scored her a pair of seven-pointers to take a solid lead. With fewer than five minutes left, Gilmore -- a powerful surfer will skills to spare -- took off, but got caught in a section and paddled back out. Positions stood until the horn, pushing Enever through to Round 3.
"I knew where I was out there, even though it was the first time I surfed without a crowd so I felt a bit lonely at first," Enever said. "I was checking my watch constantly knowing Steph can get tens at the drop of a hat. I'm stoked to get the win."
Results: Laura Enever 15.60, Paige Hareb 10.83, Stephanie Gilmore 9.93
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW) vs. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) vs. Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Dimity Stoyle claimed the first score of the first women's event at Lowers, stringing together multiple hacks to open her campaign. Malia Manuel and Alessa Quizon struggled to time their openers, putting together a couple of low scores. The rookie from Australia found an excellent 8.50 to take command of the heat at the halfway mark, with Quizon needing a near-perfect score and Manuel in a combination situation.
To start the back end of the heat, the Hawaiians split the peak for long, frontside rides. They posted their best scores so far, but both were still looking for bigger numbers with 10 minutes remaining. Stoyle belted an 8.00 backup with an impressive mix of power-carves and smooth laybacks, cementing the Round 1 victory.
Having Lowers to herself and two other pros was "definitely a mind trip," Stoyle said after her win. Her board was also one she'd had on the back shelf, waiting for the right moment.
"It feels really good in righthand pointbreaks," she said. "I've been saving it, and it went really well."
Results: Dimity Stoyle 16.50, Malia Manuel 12.73, Alessa Quizon, 11.10