The beginning of the 2020 Championship Tour season is upon us. The year will kick off in Australia with the men's and women's Corona Gold Coast Open. The window for both events is March 26th through April 6th. Defending event winners Italo Ferreira and Caroline Marks will look to repeat their wins at these events that have the potential to impact their trajectory for the 2020 season. In fact, Ferreira's win last year gave him momentum that would conclude with his first World Title victory.
The Gold Coast has a deep and storied surf history that dates back to the halcyon days of the Duke and Tom Blake. In the early 1920s, members of The Kirra Surf Lifesaving Club began surfing the slow breaking waves out at Kirra Point. The sport caught on over the next few decades until the area grabbed the attention of the global surf community in 1977 with the debut of the Stubbies Pro.
Created by former Australian national champ Peter Drouyn, the inaugural event was held in pristine barreling conditions at Burleigh Heads with 44 men-only invitees and is notable for introducing the man-on-man format heat. Although the World Tour began in 1976, many consider that first Stubbies event to be the Tour's official debut.
Snapper is a right point that breaks off a volcanic headland with the potential for long smooth tubes groomed by the sand banks of the surrounding water. As you head west from Snapper, the next breaks are Greenmount and Kirra. The area's banks are sustained by the Tweed River Sand Bypass, a man-made aqueduct that pumps sand from south of the river mouth.
The best conditions for Snapper are East-North-East to South-East ground swells with South wind. An East-South-East long period swell in particular will create the best conditions for long barrel rides to be had.
Not surprisingly, the Australians have traditionally dominated both the men's and women's events at Gold Coast. Since the first Stubies in 1977, the wins for men have gone to Australia (22x), American (9x), Hawaii (3x) and Brazil (3x). A number of surfers have won the event multiple times, including hometown heroes Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson.
However the all-time record goes to the GOAT, Kelly Slater, with a staggering six event wins. In fact, five of Slater's six event wins coincided with a World Title victory. However, in 2019, Slater had a rocky start at the Gold Coast, coming in 33rd and remarking at the time that he was in a "dark place". He ultimately closed out the year 8th in the World, but his performance at Goldie took him a while to shake off.
Since the first women's event in 1988, the wins stack up for Australia (17x), Hawaii (2), America (2x) and Peru (1x). The Queen of the Gold Coast Stephanie Gilmore holds the records for most women's event wins, tying with Slater for six. Interestingly, none of their wins landed on the same year.
Since 2008, every women's event winner went on to be in the World Title race that year. Not to mention, Ferreira's win last year at Goldie ending with a World Title. So it goes without saying that winning Gold Coast is a major sprint out of the gate towards a strong year on Tour.
Watch the Corona Gold Coast Open and live March 26-April 6 on Worldsurfleague.com, App and Facebook.