The beginning of the 2019 Championship Tour is upon us. The year will kick off in Australia with the men's Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and women's Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast. The window for both events is April 3-13. Defending champs Julian Wilson and Lakey Peterson will look to repeat their wins at these historic events that have the potential to impact their trajectory for the 2019 season.
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 have gone to Australia (22x), American (9x), Hawaii (3x) and Brazil (2x). A number of surfers have won the event multiple times, including hometown heroes Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson. However the record goes to King Slater with a staggering six event wins. In fact, five of Slater's six event wins coincided with a World Title victory. With his foot finally healed and having a solid warm up in Manly under his belt, a win at Gold Coast for Slater could mean trouble for the likes of John John and Gabe going into the 2019 season.
Since the first women's event in 1988, the wins stack up for Australia (17x), Hawaii (2), America (1x) 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.
47 percent of the women's event winners since 2002 have gone on to win the World Title. Since 2008, every women's event winner went on to be in the Title race that year. Analysis: winning Gold Coast is a major sprint out of the gate for a shot at the World Title. Steph Gilmore has won the event six times. She is a Gold Coast local and has hometown advantage. Lakey Peterson won the event last year but lost out on the Title at Maui. Carissa Moore has won the event twice and closed out last season with a strong event win at Maui. But if Gilmore is in the zone, could a win at Gold Coast set her up for a strong shot at her 8th World Title?
Watch the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast and Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast live April 3-13 on Worldsurfleague.com, App and Facebook.