The opening round of men's action at the Australian Open of Surfing kicked off today in difficult, two-foot waves at Manly Beach, as the male competitors attempted to make it to Round Two.
After suffering a Round One loss at the recent Newcastle Surfest QS6,000 event, Brazilian David do Carmo had a lot to be happy about after dominating his first-round exchange at the Australian Open of Surfing. Do Carmo dominated the all-international affair, posting two excellent scores in the eight-point range to notch up a cumulative heat total of 16.67 (out of a possible 20 points).
"I got lucky in that heat that all the waves came my way," he said. "I was so nervous at the beginning of that heat but then things started to swing my way. It was an amazing heat for me. The next heat will be difficult with all the top seeds coming into the event, so I know I really need to work hard to get through.
"In Newcastle, I lost in the first heat, so I talked to the crew and they gave me the opportunity to join them and work on the event. I learned so much from not only competing but also working, it was a great experience."
After taking the runner-up position in the 2015 Australian Open of Surfing two years ago, Tahitian Mateia Hiquily developed a love affair with this event and looks to go one step further in 2017 as he strives for the podium again. Hiquily got the ball rolling early in his Round One heat, posting a 15.06 heat total for an eclectic mix of snaps and carves that kept his fellow competitors at arm's-length and allowed him to cement a position into the upcoming second round.
"I'm treating every heat as if it were a Final," said Hiquily. "I always aim to go out and get two sixes, but I got lucky and found two seven-point rides and got the win. I came here a week ago to train and try boards and so far everything feels good."
Hawaiian native Josh Moniz continued to take scalps for the international surfers, taking out his opening heat. With the swell decreasing, Moniz changed his tactic to account for the conditions and managed to notch up an impressive 16.16 heat total to create an uphill battle for his fellow competitors. He put on a stellar performance in this same event in 2016, finishing in the Round Five.
"With the swell dying, everything changed. I had planned on using different boards and everything but it all changed this morning," he said. "I kept an open mind in that heat and tried to move around and try all the different banks as I saw a lot of different surfers in earlier heats getting stuck on just the one bank. The first two heats are always the toughest, once I'm past that point I feel like I can free myself up a bit."
2016 Australian Open of Surfing quarterfinalist Kalani Ball enhanced his rapport with Manly's punchy beachbreaks, taking out his Round One heat with a respectable 13.36 heat total. The Illawarra naturalfooter remained busy over the duration of the heat, catching ten waves and performing a wide array of maneuvers. Ball will meet with fellow aerial dynamo and recent Surfest champion Yago Dora, 2017 Carve Pro QS champion Cam Richards and World Junior Championship runner-up Griffin Colapinto in the second round of competition.
"I feel confident here at Manly because the waves are so much like home," said Ball. "The waves here really allow you to try a whole array of different moves, whether it be airs or different sorts of turns. Everyone in this event is an amazing surfer, so I know that I need to get two scores in the six or higher range."
After sitting on the competitive bench for a chunk of the last eight months due to an ankle injury, Culburra's Mikey Wright got his Australian Open of Surfing campaign off to a flying start, posting two near-excellent scores in the 7.50 range. Wright seamlessly linked together a chain of exciting forehand turns to muster up the aforementioned scores and earn himself a spot in Round Two.
"Last year I only did a few events and lost in the first round, so it definitely feels good to take a victory," he said. "I think I definitely learned a lot from those losses. I was out with injury for the majority of the year in 2016 and I've only just taken off the tight brace and using tape. I didn't have any pain or niggles either which is definitely a good sign."