Credit: WSl / Cestari
World Champions Wright & Gilmore eliminated
Day 1 of the 2020 Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast has seen incredible action at South Stradbroke Island with Australia’s best surfers gorging on huge shifting peaks and hollow barrels. It was a taxing day for the top seeds with the event favourites going down early at the second stop of the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing.
Two of world surfing’s biggest names in Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright were sent packing on the opening day of competition with two-time World Champion Wright eliminated in the opening round and Gilmore bowing out in the Quarterfinals. Seven-time World Champion Gilmore fell out of rhythm with the ocean leaving good friend and Championship Tour sophomore Macy Callaghan to take the heat win in Quarterfinal 1 with a modest two-wave combination of 9.20. Callaghan progresses into the Semifinals where she will meet event wildcard, Sophie McCulloch.
“That was crazy out there today,” Callaghan said. “There was definitely a lot of luck involved in taking out that heat but I’ll take it. I think I’m the same as everyone in that I’m not taking this event lightly at all. Anytime we compete we want to win and this is no different -- it’s good to be back in the jersey for sure. I’ve had a few heats with Steph over the years and she’s always got the better of me so I’m stoked to get one over her finally.”
The standout performance of the day went to West Australian prodigy Jack Robinson who revelled in the heavy hollow conditions posting the highest heat total and single-wave score of the opening day. Robinson’s 18.60 two-wave combination came from a two super critical deep tube rides, one being awarded a near-perfect 9.66 (out of a possible 10). Robinson won the heat to dispatch of Australian Olympic Team member Owen Wright. Boost Mobile Team Rider Robinson has progressed into the Semifinals where he will come up against event wildcard and Day 1 standout Liam O’Brien. Jack has pegged himself as the man to beat at Stradbroke Island as he looks to improve on his Semifinal finish at the recent Tweed Coast Pro.
“Arriving here and seeing the waves today got me fired up,” Robinson said. “At the Tweed event, I had to build my own energy with those smaller waves but coming to these waves you end up just managing your energy. It’s good to beat the top names (Julian Wilson at Tweed and Owen Wright today) but everyone here is tough to beat and you have to work hard to beat any of them so any heat win feels great. It was sick to find those two solid ones -- you really had to keep sneaking around out there until you found one so I was stoked to get some decent barrels.”
Like Jack Robinson, Isabella Nichols is still waiting to make her debut on the Championship Tour as the 2020 season was cancelled earlier this year. The former World Junior Champion wasn’t pleased with her Quarterfinal finish at the Tweed Coast Pro but came to South Straddie with a more relaxed attitude and it showed as she pulled into barrels and ripped massive carves to book herself a spot into the Semifinals with some of the more convincing performances of the day.
“I wasn’t stoked with my performance at Tweed so I really wanted to lift here,” Nichols said. “I do like these kinds of waves compared to what we had at the first event so it was good to get out there and get worked. I’ve been working a lot on my mindset and making sure I’m having fun. When I’m having fun like my first heat that’s when I perform the best. I don’t perform well when I’m stressed so I need to keep focussed on my mind space. With the top seeds out tomorrow will be interesting, especially if the waves get bigger. It should be an exciting day.”
Queensland’s Ethan Ewing currently leads the Australian Grand Slam of Surfing following his win at the Tweed Coast Pro last month and he advanced through Round 1 today and will meet Wade Carmichael in tomorrow’s third Quarterfinal. Another solid result will see Ewing retain the Jeep Leader's Jersey into the final event of the series, The Margaret River Pro.
“It’s quite difficult out there, the waves are solid and there are some great barrelling waves but you have to be very selective and get the right wave to get the score,” said Ewing “I like these types of waves at Straddie, I’ve grown up surfing these types of conditions and feel confident I can go a long way in this event and hopefully win or at least maintain my position leading the rankings.”
The last heat of the day saw two local wildcards go head-to-head in Liam O’Brien and Chris Bennetts who was awarded a spot through the North End Boardriders Club. Both surfers dominated Round 1 and matched up in the Quarterfinals. O’Brien dominated this matchup to progress into the Semifinals where he will face event standout, Jack Robinson. Both surfers are young emerging talents and both display outstanding barrel riding skills. With tomorrow’s outlook set to deliver solid waves and plenty of barrels, this will be an intriguing battle.
Nikki van Dijk and Sophie McCulloch also dominated their early-round heats to book in spots in the Semifinals when competition resumes at South Stradbroke Island tomorrow morning.
Connor O’Leary, Mikey Wright and Wade Carmichael will continue their runs at the Boost Mobile Pro tomorrow as the Men’s Quarterfinals continue.
The Australian Grand Slam of Surfing, part of The WSL Countdown, will see 24 of Australia's best surfers (12 men and 12 women) go head to head in their respective divisions. 11 male CT competitors and 8 female CT competitors will be on standby for each stop, some looking to compete for the first time in 2020. The remaining spots in each field will be allocated to the highest ranked 2019 non-qualifying Australian surfers or selected wildcard surfers.
The broadcast-only ‘strike mission’ style event, not designed for spectators due to COVID, will see competitors given just four days’ notice within the competition window, to travel to each location to compete over two days. Surf conditions will determine which location is surfed and when to make sure surfers compete in the best conditions possible.
Adding to the high stakes, men's and women's overall series champions will each win $20,000AUD to donate to a charity of their choice.
The Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast will run at South Stradbroke Island on October 6 and 7.
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Women's Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Macy Callaghan (AUS) 7.26 DEF. Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 6.06, Tyler Wright (AUS) 5.87
HEAT 2: India Robinson (AUS) 6.10 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 4.83, Sayaka Muramatsu (AUS) 4.44
HEAT 3: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 9.17 DEF. Zahli Kelly (AUS) 7.50, Piper Harrison (AUS) 6.43
HEAT 4: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 13.50 DEF. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 9.10, Keely Andrew (AUS) 9.00
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Women's Quarterfinals Results:
HEAT 1: Macy Callaghan (AUS) 9.20 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 1.50
HEAT 2: Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 11.27 DEF. India Robinson (AUS) 8.26
HEAT 3: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 8.50 DEF. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 6.60
HEAT 4: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 12.50 DEF. Zahli Kelly (AUS) 8.90
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Women's Semifinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Macy Callaghan (AUS) vs. Sophie McCulloch (AUS)
HEAT 2: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Men's Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) 14.24 DEF. Liam O'Brien (AUS) 13.57, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 7.77
HEAT 2: Chris Bennetts (AUS) 15.74 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 9.57, Stuart Kennedy (AUS) 8.46
HEAT 3: Wade Carmichael (AUS) 14.87 DEF. Mikey Wright (AUS) 10.13, Soli Bailey (AUS) 5.70
HEAT 4: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Connor O'Leary (AUS) vs. Mitch Crews (AUS)
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Men's Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) 18.60 DEF. Owen Wright (AUS) 9.83
HEAT 2: Liam O'Brien (AUS) 12.50 DEF. Chris Bennetts (AUS) 2.50
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Men's Remaining Quarterfinals Matchups:
HEAT 3: Wade Carmichael (AUS) vs. Ethan Ewing (AUS)
HEAT 4: Connor O'Leary (AUS) vs. Mikey Wright (AUS)
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Men's Semifinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Liam O'Brien (AUS)