Power, progression and pinache were on display through the opening three rounds of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by Bank of Queensland. One of the best sandbanks in event history had the ASP Top 34 reveling, with an established list of usual suspects reaffirming their dominance.
There were still a series of shocking eliminations though, specifically the Round 2 losses of Jordy Smith (25th) and John John Florence (25th), as well as the Round 3 defeat of Julian Wilson (17th), all of whom were generally regarded as ASP World Title contenders coming into the season.
A crown in 2014 may now be significantly tougher to secure though, given their early departures on the Gold Coast, at least if recent history is any indication. A review of results from the last 10 years shows that not one athlete who went on to take the ASP World Title finished worse than 9th at the opening stop of the season.
Further highlighting the Gold Coast's importance in generating title campaign momentum is the fact that the event winner eventually went on to claim the WCT title in four of the last 10 years, including three in a row from 2006 through 2008.
10 Years of World Champs on the Gold Coast:
2013 - Mick Fanning: Equal 3rd
2012 - Joel Parkinson: Equal 5th
2011 - Kelly Slater: WINNER
2010 - Kelly Slater: Equal 9th
2009 - Mick Fanning: Equal 3rd
2008 - Kelly Slater: WINNER
2007 - Mick Fanning: WINNER
2006 - Kelly Slater: WINNER
2005 - Kelly Slater: Equal 5th
2004 - Andy Irons: Equal 2nd
That said, if there is a group of athletes with the talent required to reverse this trend, it certainly includes these three. Between Smith's power-fed flair, Florence's preternatural ability and Wilson's competitive focus, a quick comeback result from one or all three seems very possible. Opponents at Margaret River in Western Australia, which starts on April 2nd, should probably beware.