If there's one heat during the ASP World Tour season that means everything while at the same time meaning nothing, it would be the first heat of the first event. Enter round one of the Quiksilver Pro Australia.
It's only been three months since last we saw the world's elite surfers compete, a brief offseason when compared to other professional sports, but the beginning of another season is a chance to start fresh, to begin anew. It's a clean slate, and pundits, critics, fans, and sponsors are all keenly tuned in to how the guys are looking in the water.
"It's a new year and everyone is excited to be here," noted John John Florence, who most people have pegged to be a world title contender this year. "I've had a pretty good off season. It was short, but I was able to do some different things like travel to New York and recharge and get ready for the year."
But, as most of the top 34 surfers will attest, it's only one heat, and a loss in round one simply translates into being relegated to round two while the winner moves on to round three. Besides making a statement like Matty Wilkinson did when he crushed defending world champ Joel Parkinson, there's little consequence for stumbling out of the gates. Parkinson will now face local wildcard Brent Dorrington.
"It feels good to post a win over someone like Joel," Wilkinson said in his post-heat interview. "He obviously knows the banks here better than everyone, but I feel like I've been surfing well the last couple years -- things just haven't been going my way."
One person that's never stumbled out of the gates and would probably dispute the assertion that round one at the Quik Pro doesn't mean much is Kelly Slater. Boasting a perfect record, the 11-time world champ's never lost his opening heat at Snapper Rocks. That almost changed this time around when he found himself pitted against Kolohe Andino and Dane Reynolds. On paper it was easily the most exciting heat of the day. Andino held firm to the lead in the dying minutes of the heat, but as we've learned time and again, Slater has a penchant for the impossible. Locking in a late nine-point ride he kept his round one record flawless and advanced on.
"It's really about picking the waves out there, and Kolohe was picking the good ones ... They don't have to be the big ones, but they have to double up and bend back down the bar," told Slater afterwards.
Other perceived title contenders to win their heats were Florence, Mick Fanning and Gabriel Medina. And while Florence and Fanning breezed through, Medina hurt his left ankle halfway through the heat, causing him to return to the beach to get it checked out. Undeterred, he paddled back out, dropped a 9.5 and won the heat before heading off to a local hospital to get it checked out. There's no report yet on the severity of his injury or if it will hamper the rest of his run at the Quik Pro.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.50, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 12.70, Taj Burrow (AUS) 11.94
Heat 2: Travis Logie (ZAF) 18.20, Adriano de Souza (BRA) 17.10, Dusty Payne (HAW) 12.07
Heat 3: John John Florence (HAW) 15.00, Kai Otton (AUS) 14.80, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 12.40
Heat 4: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.24, Willian Cardoso (BRA) 14.57, Sebastian Zietz (HAW) 12.10
Heat 5: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.04, Kolohe Andino (USA) 15.73, Dane Reynolds (USA) 12.34
Heat 6: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 17.76, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 17.73, Brent Dorrington (AUS) 15.37
Heat 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 15.67, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.97, Tiago Pires (PRT) 13.20
Heat 8: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 15.60, Nat Young (USA) 11.90, Josh Kerr (AUS) 10.13
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) 12.15, Adam Melling (AUS) 11.63, Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.40
Heat 10: Michel Bourez (PYF) 16.43, Owen Wright (AUS) 15.67, Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.50
Heat 11: Brett Simpson (USA) 15.13, Jeremy Flores (FRA) 14.76, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 13.23
Heat 12: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 17.93, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.63, Glenn Hall (IRL) 15.07
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 2 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Brent Dorrington (AUS)
Heat 2: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. Dane Reynolds (USA)
Heat 3: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Willian Cardoso (BRA)
Heat 4: Josh Kerr (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 5: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 6: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)
Heat 7: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 8: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Nat Young (USA)
Heat 9: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 10: Kieren Perrow (AUS) vs. Filipe Toledo (BRA)
Heat 11: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 12: Sebastian Zietz (HAW) vs. Kolohe Andino (USA)