Day 1 of the Swatch Pro at Lower Trestles did not go as planned for a number of the world's best surfers. Current World No. 1 and reigning World Champ Tyler Wright, six-time Champ Stephanie Gilmore and three-time Champ Carissa Moore were all sent to the Round Two elimination heats. World No. 2 Sally Fitzgibbons rolled to a dominant victory, while Californian's Courtney Conlogue and Sage Erickson continued their summer-long sizzle with heat wins of their own.
World No. 3 Conlogue was the stand-out performer of the day, earning both the highest single-wave score and top total heat score of the round. Conlogue is looking charged up and ready after returning from a surf trip to Nicaragua. "I've been having so much fun just surfing my brains out...surfing six to eight hours a day along with two hours of yoga."
Glassy, crossed-up, shoulder-high peaks kept competitors on their toes during Round One, and the sporadic conditions created chaos in the draw. The first big upset happened in the second heat of the morning as Silvana Lima, who's ranked No. 15, proved once again that she's too talented in small surf to be taken lightly.
It's not every day that you get to vanquish two World Champions in one fell swoop, let alone two former event champs -- Stephanie Gilmore and Carissa Moore -- who own nine World Titles between them. But Lima accomplished that feat before lunchtime. On paper, it was quite a daunting Round One draw, yet the Brazilian vet was more than up to the task.
Lima, who finished ranked No. 2 overall in 2008 and 2009, has always been long on talent but short on tactical acumen, however she showed patience and smarts in her clash against the titans today. This heat was far from a cakewalk, however, as the lead changed a number of times, with each woman taking temporary control during a bevy of exchanges. After the see-saw battle, though, Lima sealed the win during the final exchange, snapping up a second wave that scored nearly into the seven-point range.
It didn't take long for the next big upset to take place, however, as Keely Andrew sent Wright and wildcard Macy Callaghan into Round Two with some last-minute heroics in Heat 3. It was a tough draw: The regularfooter from Mooloolaba, Australia, was facing two reigning World Champions -- Wright with the 2016 World Title and Callaghan, who was a Junior Champion.
But Andrew wasn't intimidated. While Wright jumped out to an early lead and held it for much of the heat, Andrew, who's currently ranked No. 12 on the Jeep Leaderboard, did a great job staying within striking distance. That paid off too, because with just over five minutes to go she turned the heat with this solid ride, which earned her a fast-track trip to Round Three.
As the morning progressed, things began to return to form, with the high seeds socking away wins and skipping to Round Three.
Fitzgibbons, meanwhile, seems to be oozing confidence these days. Sitting at No. 2 on the Jeep Leaderboard, she's loving the chase. The former track star knows what it's like to stay on pace with the front runners, and in surfing, the best way to annoy the people above you is to skip a round. Granted, it's only a first step, but at this point in the season, every step matters.
Plenty of intrigue is due to unfold when Round Two unfolds, as every World Champ in the past decade will be present and accounted for, and will be facing the possibility of early elimination. Be sure to check back tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. (PDT) for more Women's Championship Tour action from the Swatch Pro.
Swatch Pro Round 1 Results:
Heat 1:Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.50, Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) 10.50, Pauline Ado (FRA) 9.00
Heat 2: Silvana Lima (BRA) 14.30, Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.87, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 11.97
Heat 3: Keely Andrew (AUS) 13.17, Tyler Wright (AUS) 12.83, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 7.86
Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.53, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 13.07, Coco Ho (HAW) 11.27
Heat 5: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 16.67, Lakey Peterson (USA) 16.00, Laura Enever (AUS) 11.83
Heat 6: Sage Erickson (USA) 13.43, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 11.43, Malia Manuel (HAW) 6.47
Swatch Pro Round 2 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Malia Manuel (HAW)
Heat 2: Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) vs. Pauline Ado (FRA)
Heat 3: Tyler Wright (AUS) vs. Macy Callaghan (AUS)
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 5: Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) vs. Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Coco Ho (HAW)