You'd think in eight straight hours of competition, there'd be a dull moment or four. But if that competition were the 2013 Roxy Pro Gold Coast, you'd be mistaken. Monday was an electrifying day of women's surfing in Coolangatta, Queensland that determined the quarterfinalist. And while, typically, the eight-point scorers can be safely labeled standouts, a slurry of nines muddied the line between victory and vanquish.
Hawaii's Coco Ho suffered a day of tough losses. When a 17.33 lands you in round four and a 17.30 can't save you from elimination, you know the competition is savage. In their third-round heat, current world dominator Steph Gilmore pulled out a 9.73 and defeated Ho by less than a point. In the fourth round, Ho posted the highest single-wave score of the event thus far, a 9.87. Her opponent and fellow Hawaiian, Alana Blanchard, nearly conjured her own perfect 10 and managed to top Ho's impressive heat total.
"I think pretty much all of the girls are just ripping today," Blanchard said. "Every heat was just amazing and the waves turned out to be really good. [Coco and I] have been competing against each other since we were like 10 years old back at home. I've known her my whole life, we travel together, and it's always hard to compete against each other."
2011's world champion, Carissa Moore, jumped to the quarterfinals after commandeering her round three heat against American Lakey Peterson and France's Pauline Ado. Ado looked strong and Peterson's hacks seemed effortless, but Moore was in shark mode. Her speed, precision, and what appeared to be single-minded determination, secured her a 5-point lead and heat victory.
"It feels really good to be into the quarters," Moore said. "I'm going to have a tough match-up [with Pauline Ado] and I'm just looking forward to performing and having a good time."
World Tour first-timer Bianca Buitendag didn't end her heats in front of an army of reporters. She didn't have to sign 10,000 autographs. But she should probably prepare herself, because that stuff is on its way. The 19-year-old South African defeated Kiwi Paige Hareb in round two, then sent top-ranked Aussies Sally Fitzgibbons and Laura Enever to elimination round four.
"I'm getting used to the format and the thing I learned from the first round is that with one person going through, you have to go big. Otherwise, you might as well just come in stone last," Buitendag said. "Sally's second in the world and Laura's a huge name in Australia, and I'm just this newcomer, so I'm just cruising and doing my thing, minding my own business, not worrying about all of the external factors."
At one point on Monday, the new Quiksilver "Crowd's Call" platform asked whether women's surfing is better than ever before. 75 percent said yes. Did they even need to ask?
"There are so many close heats today," said Australian Tyler Wright. "It's what we want in female surfing: Close heats, high heats, and really pushing the limits."
The next call will be at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Don't expect any dull moments.
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 15.26 def. Paige Hareb (NZL) 12.10
Heat 2: Laura Enever (AUS) 12.50 def. Rebecca Woods (AUS) 12.50
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.63 def. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 14.60
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.43 def. Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 14.30
Heat 5: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 13.27 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.50
Heat 6: Silvana Lima (BRA) 16.36 def. Sage Erickson (USA) 14.27
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 3 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) 14.67, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 14.16, Alana Blanchard (HAW) 9.17
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 17.96, Coco Ho (HAW) 17.33, Silvana Lima (BRA) 7.34
Heat 3: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 16.00, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 15.34, Laura Enever (AUS) 11.90
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) 18.43, Pauline Ado (FRA) 13.20, Lakey Peterson (USA) 13.17
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 4 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 15.17 def. Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.16
Heat 2: Alana Blanchard (HAW) 17.87 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 17.30
Heat 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.47 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.80
Heat 4: Pauline Ado (FRA) 13.83 def. Laura Enever (AUS) 10.77
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Heat 2: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Alana Blanchard (HAW)
Heat 3: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
Heat 4: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)