Day 12 - Sunday, April 9, AWST
12:03 p.m. AWST
John John Florence just completed one of the most dominant performances in pro surfing history at Margaret River, racking up another 19-point total (his fourth) in the Final, to claim an easy win over Kolohe Andino.
"I love surfing this wave," John said afterward. "Just going fast and doing big turns it's one of the funnest things in the world."
With the win, Florence reclaims the yellow Jeep Leader jersey from Owen Wright, which means he's already well ahead of his 2016 pace. He's hoping to become the first World Champion since Andy Irons to repeat as a World Champ.
10:45 a.m. AWST
It appears the 20 minute break paid off for Kolohe Andino. He was a bucket of nerves earlier in the heat, and left the water trailing Filipe Toledo when they went on hold due to a possible shark scare. But once officials determined the coast was clear and the surfers took to the lineup, Andino came firing back with his confidence. It was a close heat though, with Toledo taking it the distance in the heat's final exchange. But Kolohe hung on, and is moving on to face John John Florence in the Final.
10:05 a.m. AWST
We're a little more than halfway through Semifinal Heat No. 2 at the moment, and the judges have put the event on hold due to what appeared to be a huge school of salmon moving through the lineup. The abundance of surface splashing was enough to spook Andino and Toledo, who were having issues concentrating in the midst of the frenzy. While nobody saw any sharks, there's a much higher probability of them running through the lineup when huge schools of fish are passing through. The water safety team, who is constantly monitoring the water for sharks, asked the surfers if they wanted to go on hold...Andino and Toledo quickly agreed.
"That was gnarly," said Toledo. "I was trying to talk with Kolohe but I couldn't even think, there was so much splashing going."
9:45 a.m. AWST
Florence looks nearly impossible to stop at this point. He just turned in his third 19-plus heat total at Margaret River during his Semifinal clash with Jack Freestone, although, it wasn't much of a clash. Freestone struggled to find opportunities, and was never much of a factor. John's biggest concern was the inside reef, which punched a hole in his elbow after a wipeout on the inside. While Florence was clearly in pain, his next wave was one of his best. It's going to take something crazy or a flat ocean to stop him today.
9:17 a.m. AWST
Channeling the tube-riding finesse of fellow Californian and Margaret River legend Tom Curren, Kolohe Andino used superior wave selection to take down another surfer at the top of his game, Jordy Smith. Riding the buzz of first blood well into the excellent scoring range, Andino waited patiently throughout the heat and stuck to his game plan -- fade into the high line on the drop and find the barrel. With Smith blitzing the open face, Andino dropped a second wave into the 9-point range to close the door on the big South African with just minutes remaining.
9:01 a.m. AWST
Andino kicks off the heat with a bang:
8:51 a.m. AWST
Jordy Smith v Kolohe Andino in the final Quarterfinal matchup of the day:
8:44 a.m. AWST
In an all-Brazilian Quarterfinal affair, Filipe Toledo waited until nearly the five minute remaining mark before pushing his first scoring ride well into the good range versus Adriano de Souza. That this heat was going to be a cagey affair between two keen competitors was never in doubt, but Toledo was able to do more with his waves, breaking off a high-speed layback down carve to turn the heat in the dying moments.
8:06 a.m. AWST
Florence is still the machine at Margaret River -- a buzz saw machine. He just put in another stellar performance in his Quarterfinal match with Michel Bourez. Conditions were similar to last Saturday, when he delivered back-to-back 19-point heat totals. Today is a bit smaller, so he settled for an 18.04 in his match. It was inspired stuff, though: tubes, laybacks, carves... beautiful stuff.
A huge tip of the cap to Michel, however, who clawed his way back out of a combination situation with one of the best turns of the heat: a fully committed layback snap that blew the fins out in a meaty section. His 15.77 would have won the first Quarterfinal handily.
7:36 a.m. AWST
Jack Freestone defeated Owen Wright in their set-starved Quarterfinal heat, the first of the day. Jack's win ultimately came down to the strength of his first turn on his first wave - an aggressive hook in the steep part of the wave. It earned him a 6.5, which, in the end, was all he really needed. Owen struggled to find a decent opportunity to respond. When it came, a fin malfunction sent Wright spinning off the bottom, and spun out. From there all Jack had to do was sit on Owen while the clock ran down.
Now John John Florence is in the water, with an open door to take control of the yellow Jeep Leader Jersey. His opening ride: a 9.27. The Champ is still blazing hot, apparently.
5:30 a.m. AWST
Sunday is the final day of the Drug Aware Pro waiting period. Big surf is expected in Margaret River, where the final eight surfers have been preparing all week for battle. The Quarterfinals could start as early as 7:05 a.m. AWST, conditions permitting, but with only seven heats remaining, Commissioner Kieren Perrow will be looking to sync the running of those heats with the optimal conditions.
There are exciting Quarterfinal matches on tap: In QF1 Jeep Leader Owen Wright will be taking on his buddy Jack Freestone, who's looked sharp during his West Oz visit. In QF2 World Champion John John Florence will be taking on former event winner Michel Bourez. QF3 will be the battle of Brazilians, with former World Champ Adriano de Souza taking on the perennial head-turner Filipe Toledo. And in QF4 big boys Kolohe Andino and Jordy Smith will be trading blows. Stand by...this is going to be good.
Day 11 - Saturday, April 8, AWST
1:30 p.m. AWST
Sally Fitzgibbons overcame some pretty big odds to win the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro on Saturday. The Australian, in her eighth year on Championship Tour, just snapped the longest slump of her career with impressive victories over Jeep Leader Stephanie Gilmore and reigning World Champion Tyler Wright.
It was Fitzgibbons first Championship Tour win since 2015, and it thrust her into a two-way tie with Gilmore for the lead on the Jeep Leaderboard. Wright has moved up to third place.
It was a satisfying victory for Sally, who's been working harder than ever to get back into a position to battle for a World Title. She's put a premium on her fitness routine, even launching a consumer-facing program during the off-season, which is undoubtedly paying off.
12:08 p.m. AWST
The pre-dawn training is finally paying off! Sally Fitzgibbons just took down 2016 World Champ and defending Margaret's champ Tyler Wright to win the women's Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. She's now tied for No. 1 in the world; who gets the Jeep Leader's yellow jersey at Bells is yet to be determined.
For now, Fitzgibbons is basking in a well-deserved win.
12:00 p.m. AWST
By now, Sally Fitzgibbons' fitness-queen reputation on Tour is practically axiomatic. But how does she maintain that beast status? When she's not skipping rope or bouncing around for her heat warmups, she's up to a few other workouts...Behold, the All Australian Beach Body.
11:00 a.m. AWST
By all accounts, the much-hyped battle between Aussies Sally Fitzgibbons and Stephanie Gilmore -- two powerhouse, Australian surfers who have dominated for years -- was a head-scratcher. For nearly 30 of the 35-minute heat Fitzgibbons made small laps around Main Break, putting mid-level scores on the board and building the proverbial "house" of a scoreline. During that time, Gilmore surfed zero waves in an odd, lopsided heat that the six-time World Champion described afterward simply, as "weird."
Briefly, in the final five minutes, Gilmore went to work, but fell on her attempts. This was a rematch of sorts, just a few weeks after the two women battled in the Semis at Snapper, where Gilmore had the upper hand. This heat, however, belonged to Sally. She'll face another Aussie titan, 2016 Champ Tyler Wright, in the Final.
10:30 a.m. AWST
The conditions are bumpy, but the battles are intense. So far, Tyler Wright rook down Sage Erickson, whose focus on the lefthanders didn't pay off the way she'd hoped. Wright, for her part, is maintaining the steely demeanor and cool focus that carried her to a World Title win in 2016. In her post-heat interview with Barton Lynch, she was calm and collected, and alluded to some strategic secrets to her success -- and yes, she's keeping those close to the cuff.
In the meantime, today's call wasn't an easy one. Deputy Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer on the thinking behind it.
9:00 a.m. AWST
It's official! the women's finals are ON, starting at 9:45 a.m. local time in Margaret River. Reigning World Champ Tyler Wright and emerging threat Sage Erickson will kick things off in Semifinal 1, followed by Sally Fitzgibbons vs. Stephanie Gilmore, who have had a longtime rivalry borne of mutual respect -- and killer talent.
7:45 a.m. AWST
And the call is... on hold. The women's finals may still run today, but the men are off until Sunday local time. The next call is in an hour, at 9:00 a.m. local time, for a possible 9:45 start.
6:45 a.m. AWST
After huddling up for a while, the commissioners have put the contest on hold. The next call is in an hour, at 7:45 a.m. AWST. In the meantime, you can play armchair commish as you watch the waves on Facebook.
Day 10 - Friday, April 7, AWST
6:30 a.m. AWST
From wine-tasting to tide pools, there's been no shortage of things to do on the Drug Aware's recent lay days. For Sebastian Zietz and Michel Bourez, it was time to take flight.
...Never one to be left out, John John enjoyed the ramps, too...
6:14 a.m. AWST
With the wind whipping again across Main Break, the Drug Aware Pro will again be off today. According to Deputy Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer, the women's finals may run Saturday local time, followed by the men's on Sunday. We'll share updates as soon as they're available.
5:04 a.m. AWST
According to Surfline (and the coconut wireless), Sunday in Margaret River is still looking like the best bet for swell. Still, there's a pulse expected today, which means that we may see the women's finals.
Here's the latest from Kevin Wallis:
Day 9 - Thurs., April 6, AWST
6:45 a.m. AWST
Indeed, we are off for the day in WA, as commissioners and the surfer await improving conditions.
5:13 a.m. AWST
In the meantime... it doesn't look like anyone's been letting precious lay days go to waste. Especially this guy.
...or this guy...
4:50 a.m. AWST
Surfline's Kevin Wallis is predicting a likely Finals day this weekend, with more detail coming tomorrow.
Day 8 - Weds., April 5, AWST
7:00 a.m. AWST
Renowned surf scribe Paul Evans notices the classic layback snap as one of the silent heroes during many heat wins at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. The realization inspired an ode to the vintage move. Read the story behind the style.
Here's just one example, from the master himself:
6:27 a.m. AWST
The WSL commissioners have called off competition for the day. Stay tuned for further updates, and lay day fun...which, for the pros still in the event, started Monday.
5:50 a.m. AWST
The next-call rumor mill is in full spin, but based on the latest Surfline Forecast for Margaret's, we may be waiting for the wind to cooperate before finals day unfolds.
According to Surfline's Kevin Wallis:
Small surf Tuesday with a gradual rebuilding trend in the afternoon. Modest SW swell prevails Wednesday as southerly wind builds over the afternoon/evening. A larger SW to SSW swell builds Thursday, although local wind will likely remain unfavorable. A medium size SSW swell looks more and more likely for the weekend, with more favorable wind as well.
Day 6 - Mon., April 3, AWST
12:00 p.m. ASWT
The surfers are enjoying some rest Monday after five straight days of intense competition at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro. Only a dozen surfers remain in competition, and as you'd expect, the anticipation is building for the upcoming matches. Here's a preview.
Day 5 - Sun., April 2, AWST
2:00 p.m. AWST
Sunday was another day of huge upsets at Margaret River, but this time on the women's side. Carissa Moore and Courtney Conlugue, who are historically the two most dominant players in this event, were sent packing after Quarterfinal losses. Carissa was felled by Sally Fitzgibbons; Courtney by Sage Erickson. While fifth-place finishes are nothing to be ashamed of, they're not the stuff of World Titles. Meanwhile, Stephanie Gilmore survived a big challenge from Nikki Van Dijk to advance to the Semis, and Tyler Wright earned a free pass after Malia Manuel was forced to withdraw due to injury.
Meanwhile on the Men's side, Jordy Smith was the day's top performer, rebounding in a big way after his shaky performances in earlier rounds. Smith defeated an in-form Jeremy Flores to advance to the Quarterfinals, where he'll face Kolohe Andino. Jack Freestone was the other big story. He seems to finally be settling into Championship Tour form. Freestone will meet Owen Wright next. Michel Bourez won a tight battle with Julian Wilson to move on, and will face John John Florence next. Brazilians Filipe Toledo and Adriano de Souza round out the Quarterfinal pairings. Toledo defeated defending champion Sebastian Zietz to earn the honor.
The event will not run Monday, due to a deteriorating swell. But things look promising for Tuesday, when we can expect the Next Call at 7:00 a.m. AWST.
1:10 p.m. AWST
If Sally Fitzgibbons looked distracted in 2016 it's because she was. Fitzgibbons was busy exploring a lot of options outside of her surf career while trying to stay competitive. It's a worthwhile cause, but mostly for the lessons it teaches you. Sally had her worst year yet in 2016. Realizing she was spread a little thin, she zeroed in on what matters: Her health. Her loved ones. Her surfing. And it's paying off. Sally is more fit than ever (she just launched her own fitness app, too.). Her surfing is back in top form, and her fire is there, as we saw when she eliminated Carissa Moore in the Quarterfinals on Sunday. Sally will be taken more seriously this year, and for good reason.
It just feels really nice to push my surfing up towards that perfect score, that's what you dream of and it's good to feel the pieces coming together for myself and my surfing. - Sally Fitzgibbons
12:30 p.m. AWST
Even when she's not at the top of her game, Stephanie Gilmore finds a way to win. In an uncharacteristically mistake-riddled heat against Nikki Van Dijk, Gilmore dodged a major bullet in her World Title aspirations. In the short term, she can glide through on technique, even mystique at times. But, perhaps more concerning for the 6x World Champ in the long run is an unfortunate tendency to fall at the end of rides. It's a glitch in the system dating back to the 2016 season, apparent even during her dream run at the Roxy Pro just a couple of weeks ago. It's still early days and there's no reason to hit the panic button, but it's a problem she'll need to address as the season chugs forward.
11:50 a.m. AWST
Sage Erickson finished No. 9 on the Jeep Leaderboard rankings in 2016. After three years of living on the edge of tour survival, she's found her place. Her next move is to be a more consistent threat to the power brokers on the women's side. Courtney Conlogue is a perfect example. In six previous meetings with Conlogue, Erickson lost five. Given that Courtney's one of the most dominant surfers at Margaret River, beating her there was a tall order. But Erickson turned the tables today by drawing on her opponent's approach for inspiration to ignore and transcend obstacles. The two are old friends who've been battling for years. Today, that inspiration got Sage over the hump in their Quarterfinal match. A huge win for Erickson. A very tough loss for Conlogue, who's having a rough start to 2017.
11:30 a.m. AWST
Saturday wasn't Jordy Smith's best day. In the morning, he barely survived his Round Three heat with wildcard Jesse Mendes. And in the afternoon, during the non-elimination Round Four, he took a board to the face while on his way to last place.
Yeah, anything was upwards from yesterday. - Jordy Smith
Fortunately for Smith, that was yesterday. On Sunday that was all water under the bridge. The fact that he was up against Jeremy Flores, one of Saturday's strongest performers, didn't phase him. He found his free-flowing form again, locking in a solid 9.00 in the tricky conditions to take the win.
11:10 a.m. AWST
Women's Tour commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer just reported that Malia Manuel will not be able to surf her Quarterfinal heat against Tyler Wright due to an MCL injury sustained in her previous heat. We'll update with more details as they're available.
The women's Drug Aware Margaret River Pro Quarterfinals will begin immediately following the conclusion of Men's Round Five, Heat 4.
11:00 a.m. AWST
Filipe Toledo just surfed his Round Five heat like he was dropping one of his popular Single Session web edits. The spry Brazilian was clearly enjoying his time out at Main Break. "We had a quick chat about running at The Box," he told the WSL. "But my instinct was to stay here in some rippable waves, and I'm glad we did." His instincts paid off in the form of a well-earned trip to the Quarterfinals, where he'll face Adriano de Souza.
10:20 a.m. AWST
When former Margaret River Pro champ Michel Bourez "swings his big axe," as Ronnie Blakey so eloquently said, big trees fall. Bourez just chopped down a surfer many pundits (this one included) had pegged to win this event, in the form of Julian Wilson. Bourez is a guy who goes about his business quietly, and his surfing suits the often blustery conditions at Main Break. He's now just a couple of heat wins away from another podium finish.
9:40 a.m. AWST
Jack Freestone continues to show new-found maturity in his competitive surfing, having just dispatched a frustrated Conner Coffin from the get go in Round Five, Heat 1. Freestone had to re-qualify for the CT via the Qualifying Series in 2016 and the exercise looks to have been a positive, albeit humbling, experience. The emphasis is now clearly on his strengths -- power and progression -- without any of the haphazard, wave-finishing heroics of the past.
That's always my game plan if I'm winning, to have priority to get control of the last five minutes of the heat. - Jack Freestone
Men's Round Five is on deck to kick off next at Main Break. Commissioner Kieren Perrow chatted with Barton Lynch about why he didn't move competition to The Box.
As they chatted, Sally Fitzgibbons and Tatiana Weston-Webb duked it out in Round Four, Heat 4. Fitzgibbons has been on the heels of the World Champs for years, and is known as one of the fittest people on the Championship Tour. She's also newly married, an author of a motivational book, and an occasional show host at home in Oz. There's only one thing this woman hasn't done yet, and that's win a World Title -- something she's no doubt planning on changing this year.
Tati, meanwhile, has been a force on Tour since she arrived as a rookie in 2015. This year her results so far haven't reflected what she's capable of -- a 9th at Snapper and now another one here at Margaret's -- which should be enough to fire her up for some payback at Bells.
It's barely 8 a.m. in Western Australia, but a few hearts have already left the beach a little bit heavier than they arrived. Coco Ho, who has been making a determined run at the upper echelon of the rankings so far this season, was dealt a tough Round Four loss, courtesy Sage Erickson. Outside of competition, both women have cultivated impressive fan bases, both as athletes and models. But in terms of competitive fire, neither has broken through the Top 5 on the women's Championship Tour -- yet. At Snapper Rocks earlier this month, Coco made it to Round Four and appeared to have a new focus on her points.
That's why, in part, her Round Four loss here at Main Break was so painful. Both she and Sage are contenders on the cusp of greatness, but needing a few stronger finishes to break through. In her post-heat interview with Barton Lynch, Coco was visibly -- and understandably -- upset. The good news? Local wine-tasting awaits... as do nine more events this season.
Also defeated this morning were Johanne Defay, who battled Malia Manuel in a match of powerhouses, and Keely Andrew, who lost to fellow Aussie Nikki Van Dijk.
6:46 a.m. AWST
The women will kick off the day with Round Four, followed by men's Round Five, with Quarterfinals on standby.
4 a.m. AWAT
After a huge day at Margaret River officials are keeping a close eye on the Sunday morning forecast. Stay tuned for the Next Call at 7:00 a.m. AWST. In the meantime go ahead and marvel at John John Florence's historic performance at the Drug Aware Pro yesterday.
Day 4 - Sat., April 1, AWST
6:05 p.m. AWST
John John Florence put on a performance for the ages Saturday. The current World Champ set the Main Break lineup ablaze with his highly creative brand of big-wave carving, the likes of which have never been seen. With all due respect to the other standouts on the day (Jeremy Flores, Adriano De Souza, Owen Wright and Kolohe Andino) Florence was on another level. And the scores reflected it. In back-to-back heats he earned near-perfect, 19-point-plus total scores (out of a possible 20). His average scoring ride on the day was a 9.60. Even his throwaways were 8s. If you didn't catch it do yourself a favor and watch the replay, or catch the Heat Analyzer. You'll be glad you did.
5:15 p.m. AWST
Kolohe Andino has officially rebounded nicely from his early exit at the Quiksilver Pro. The Californian, who finished No. 4 on the Jeep Leaderboard last year, has every intention of getting back in the mix. He won a tough battle against Filipe Toledo and Jeremy Flores in the final heat of the day. Andino joins John John Florence, Owen Wright and Adriano de Souza as the early entrants to the Quarterfinals.
4:30 p.m. AWST
Adriano de Souza delivered another dominant performance. The 2015 World Champion is on his game, completely unfazed by the chunky conditions. De Souza's power game plows him through the rough sections easily, and he's doing it with his foot firmly on the accelerator. He cruised to a relatively easy win over Sebastian Zietz and Jordy Smith. Zietz was in the game. Jordy had a shocker.
If you make it great, if you don't you just hope you don't die. - Adriano de Souza on hitting the closeout section
3:37 p.m. AWST
Florence is at it again. The guy has gone completely next level today. With all due respect to everyone else, nobody is touching him. With 10 minutes left in his Round Four heat he's already loaded a 9.43 and a 9.73 into his scoring column. Michel Bourez and Conner Coffin are in a hopeless situation at this point. This is seriously crazy. It's been a long time since anyone has looked this far ahead of everyone else.
3:15 p.m. AWST
Owen Wright is reminding everyone that he was smack dab in the middle of a World Title race when he was injured. The big blonde bloke just pulled another come-from-behind win over a sharp looking Jack Freestone and a fired up Julian Wilson to earn the easy road to the Quarterfinal. He seems to like the Jeep Leader Yellow Jersey.
3:00 p.m. AWST
Kolohe Andino just secured a huge win over his good friend Nat Young, the most consistent surfer on Tour at Margaret River over the past four seasons. Andino stuck a few big hacks out the back, then surfed wisely the rest of the way to take the win. Young had some opportunities, but a couple of crucial falls cost him in the bumpy surf. Andino needed the win desperately after an early exit at the Quiksilver Pro.
2:30 p.m. AWST
Filipe Toledo knocked out Connor O'Leary, who was the last rookie standing at Margaret River. Both surfers struggled to get waves. Toledo even swapped boards, only to realize later that he had his fins in the wrong spot. "I thought I had kelp in my board or something," he laughed.
1:55 p.m. AWST
Jeremy Flores had a very tough draw in Joel Parkinson during his Round Three heat. Parko's been on a tear of late. But Flores, the Frenchman, came out guns blazing in the big stuff. His vicious layback hacks impressed the fans and judges. Surfing fast and authoritatively Flores had Parko in a combination situation with a couple minutes to go. Parko's last gasp got him out of the combo, but it wasn't enough.
To beat Parko in waves like that, I mean, that's a highlight for me. Guys like him and Mick are the real deal. - Jeremy Flores
1:25 p.m. AWST
Adriano de Souza is looking inspired again, and that's what makes him particularly dangerous. He just scorched his heat with Bede Durbidge, racking up the second-highest score of the day so far with 17.67 points. Adriano needed it, too, because Bede was surfing solid. The 15.66 he earned would have got him through a good chunk of Round Three heats.
12:52 p.m. AWST
Caio Ibelli, last year's Rookie of the Year, was looking very impressive during his heat with defending champion Sebastian Zietz, throwing aggressive hooks in the big walls. The Brazilian held the lead for most of the heat, and could practically taste Round Four, but he left the door open in the final seconds. He had priority out the back and was stroking hard to get into a final wave, but he couldn't catch it. Seabass, sitting further inside, took advantage. Needing a 5.99 he got busy with a power carve and a big layback hack under the closeout curtain. It was a huge buzzer-beater for Seabass. A big lesson for Caio...never let your opponent get away from you at the end.
12:19 p.m. AWST
Tchau to another young Brazilian, this time to wildcard Jesse Mendes. It was all Jordy Smith's fault: The lanky South African was focused and steady. It wasn't a Saturday fry-up so much as a slow burn with two waves apiece, where Jordy's 30-minute simmer won out. But don't cry for Argentina, or for Jesse. He's still leading the Qualifying Series (QS) rankings, and this CT appearance was a chance to see what life will be like when he makes the big leagues.
11:58 a.m. AWST
John John Florence just lit this place on fire. Looking every bit the World Champion he is, Florence was making massive Margaret River look as playful as his Pupukea backyard. He drew a variety of fresh looking lines across the giant walls, and supplied a healthy dose of flair. His 19.27 total heat score is all the evidence needed to make the case that he's in another league right now.
That was just like some of the big open-face waves we've got at home. It kind of like snowboarding. - John John Florence
11:22 a.m. AWST
John John Florence is wowing in the water vs. wunderkind Jacob Willcox. Meanwhile, we're still digesting the impressive win Conner Coffin just earned over Tour vet Ace Buchan. Buchan made on last desperate attempt to wrest the lead out of Conner's with one ridiculous, inverted backhand hack, but he caught some chatter on the way down and it all ended quickly. Like Fanning's rare display of frustration two days ago, the typically mild-mannered Buchan pounded his board. The gesture, as it happened, improved his score not one bit.
10:45 a.m. AWST
The carnage continues as another young gun just bit the dust, courtesy Michel Bourez. This time, it was Californian Kanoa Igarashi who won't be surfing again at Margaret's; The Tour veteran known as "The Spartan" for his superhero-like physique made mincemeat of the mutant waves. Igarashi didn't go down quietly, but once his elder opponent scored an 8.67, he never quite caught up.
10:10 a.m. AWST
And then there was one...rookie that is...Ian Gouveia, the Brazilian rookie with surf-star lineage came this close to eliminating Owen Wright. He's been looking solid on his backhand here in West Oz. But sadly for Gouveia, he was up against the guy wearing the Jeep Yellow Jersey, and true to form, the big Aussie came back at the very end with an 8.07 that shut the door on the battle.
Watch the waves-only version of their battle here, and with the Heat Analyzer.
9:45 a.m. AWST
Welcome back, Julian Wilson. The Australian, for whom Margaret's is something of a favorite event, just took Main Break by the neck and squeezed the life out of it. Neither the waves, nor Miguel Pupo, even had a chance. Wilson scored two eight-pointers, leaving Pupo in the dust (actually, the white water). Miggy will need to work to get back in the game, but Julian looks like a favorite for the event.
9:15 a.m. AWST
Let the upsets begin. In macking waves at Main Break, Tour sophomore Jack Freestone just defeated Kelly Slater. Both surfers looked a little disoriented by the large playing field, and it was a low scoring heat, but Freestone, riding longer equipment, stayed within himself, completing his rides. Slater struggled to find walls with a steep face, and paid the price.
Those sets out there had to be 12-foot plus. - Jack Freestone
8:35 a.m. AWST
It's on! Coverage starts at 8:40 a.m. But first, a message from the commish:
7:59 a.m. AWST
Alas, Poseidon let us down at The Box. But it's still pumping at Main Break, so the crew, judges and surfers are headed back, with the next call planned for 8:30 a.m. (This is, apparently's WA's version of an April Fool's Joke.)
6:54 a.m. AWST
Poseidon (and Kieren) answered all our prayers! Action is moving to The Box, with the next call at 8:00 a.m. AWST. (in about an hour). Women are off for the day. When men's Round Three does get going, Kelly Slater vs. Jack Freestone is first up.
4:38 a.m. AWST
This guy might be excited too.
4:26 a.m. AWST
We're not the only ones praying to Poseidon (and Kieren Perrow) for a day at The Box...
12:30 a.m. AWST
With a good looking forecast hopes are high for a possible stretch of heats at The Box Saturday morning. Commissioner Kieren Perrow will be watching closely as soon as dawn breaks at Margaret River. Tour stars are buzzing about the prospects after savoring the ample supply of waves on offer over the past few days. While we await the next call, slated for 7:00 a.m. AWST, get a glimpse of what else has been going on in the latest installment of #Tournotes: West Oz Sessions.
Day 3 - Fri., March 31, AWST
2:30 p.m. AWST
Next Call will be Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. with a good chance of Men's Round Three action leading the way. If that's the case, Kelly Slater and Jack Freestone will kick things off.
Another monster day of competition in Margaret River has resulted in the top four favorites on the women's side making sprints directly to the Quarterfinals. Courtney Conlogue and Carissa Moore lived up to their Western Australian track records, bouncing back from their early exits at the Roxy Pro with some authority. Meanwhile, Tyler Wright and Stephanie Gilmore managed to secure clutch Round Three wins in come-from-behind fashion.
2:20 p.m AWST
Feeding off the energy of the previous three heats, Carissa Moore looked ready to one-up her fellow World Champs, Tyler Wright and Stephanie Gilmore, who both won with the help of 9-point rides. But unlike Wright and Gilmore, who needed to pull some last-minute magic to win their heats, Moore came out of the gate firing, stomping a 9.57 on her third attempt, which gave her a solid lead over Sally Fitzgibbons. She didn't let it go.
Don't piss off the World Champs - Martin Potter on Friday's theme at Margaret River
2:00 p.m. AWST
Competition will end for the day after Round Three. Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer has decided the wind has come up too much to go into Round Four.
1:40 p.m. AWST
Current Jeep Leader Steph Gilmore had her hands full for most of her Round Three match against Nikki Van Dijk and Tatiana Weston-Webb. Gilmore was sitting in third place for most of it. She was on the losing end of an early paddle battle with Tatiana, then stumbled on one of her best opportunities mid-way through. Meanwhile, Nikki seemed to be taking control. But in the closing moments, Gilmore found her groove. Needing an 8.0 with time running out, she dropped the hammer with a 9.10 that earned her a fast-track trip to the Quarterfinals.
I just kept saying just finish the wave. Finish it. Do not fall off. -- Steph Gilmore, on her Round Three buzzer-beater.
1:10 p.m. AWST
Tyler Wright, Malia Manuel and Sage Erickson just delivered the most entertaining heat of the day in their Round Three match. While all three surfed well, it ultimately became a slugfest between Manuel and Wright. Manuel opened strong, and held the lead for most of the heat with her inspired surfing, looking every bit the contender she is. But Wright came clawing back, the way World Champs do. She unleashed on a racy right that earned her a 9.57. Malia, however, wasn't done. She fired back with a 9.00 of her own. Then, in the closing moments Tyler overtook the Hawaiian for good with an 8.37. Manuel's total heat score of 17.00 would have given her the win in any other matchup. Instead, she'll be heading to Round Four, where she'll face Johanne Defay.
The best surfing, meanwhile, came from the locals:
12:15 a.m. AWST
Round Three is non-elimination in the women's comp, but you wouldn't know it from watching Courtney Conlogue. A perennial World Title contender, she has everything it takes to conquer Margaret River, from explosive power to a no-holds-barred attitude. Coco Ho and Johanne Defay were nipping at her heels, but with hacks like this one -- not to mention affection for the lefts -- Courtney came out on top.
Tour sophomore Keely Andrew took down Silvana Lima, another Tour returnee (for the second time!) after falling off at the end of 2015. Silvana: We're all waiting for you to throw the kind of airs that wowed us in 2015, and the kind of rail work that scores big. In fact, here's some hashtag inspo, straight from your own Insta:
11:34 a.m. AWST
Deputy Commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer has called Round Three on next, as long as the wind stays put. Round Four is on hold.
Bonus: The women's Heat Analyzer is live and ready for perusing.
11:26 a.m. AWST
It's time to say adieu (for now) to the Tour's other Frenchwoman, Pauline Ado, who just lost to Sage Erickson. Ado has been on the elite Tour before, but had to work her way back up the Qualifying Series rankings to get back to the Top 17. Here's hoping she can get her top-tier game back in gear by the time the Tour gets to Bells next month.
10:48 a.m. AWST
In a battle of the goofyfooters, Tatiana Weston-Webb came out on top, eliminating Bianca Buitendag. Bianca fell off Tour at the end of 2016 and was surfing here as an injury replacement for Laura Enever. Weston-Webb, however, finished at World No. 4 last year, and likely has her sights set even higher this year. (Side note: Tati's boyfriend, Jesse Mendes, is a wildcard in the men's event. He'll surf again in the men's Round Three.)
10:11 a.m. AWST
And now the other Macaulay is in the water, up against everyone's favorite Frenchwoman, Johanne Defay. Allez! (Update: Johanne won, which effectively ended the Macaulays' run this time around.)
9:50 a.m. AWST
In the day's biggest upset so far, Hawaiian Coco Ho took down Californian Lakey Peterson. Despite a long family history in pro surfing, Ho has yet to break through on the women's Championship Tour (CT). Her talent has never been in question, but her competitive drive has. This year, however, could be different. After taking down Lakey, who wowed with a 10-point ride at Snapper, Ho might have some momentum on her side.
9:15 a.m. AWST
Finally, we have a heat on our hands. Rookie Bronte Macaulay, who's from Western Australia, came up against fellow Aussie Nikki Van Dijk. For the first time all morning, it wasn't entirely clear who'd come out with the win: The powerful local, with a former pro-surfer dad-slash-coach vs. a veteran Tour surfer, who's hungry to prove her mettle. Bronte upped the ante with an 8-pointer, but Nikki's steady mid-range scores earned her the win.
8:52 a.m. AWST
As if Barton Lynch didn't have enough fans already, now there's this... You're welcome. #Latergram.