Ryan Hardy: mind the ceiling

Amaury Lavernhe, Ben Player and Ryan Hardy were the only bodyboarders that have sealed consecutive heat wins in the first days of action in The Box Pro 2011, in Margaret River.

Gas Bay was the perfect backup by producing wedgy, high performance waves in the two-metre range. Lavernhe’s two heat totals of 11.75 and 13.50 were enough to earn the Frenchman 12 points and a place at the top of the leader board, the 25 year-old defeating the likes of Eder Luciano, Spencer Skipper and Manuel Centeno.

"I have been coming here on the tour for four years now, cruising here every year because I really love this place, it’s a really nice place for me to focus on my riding in right handers because back home in Reunion, we have so many lefthanders. But in that time I haven’t surfed Gas much in conditions like today," said Lavernhe.

"Gas is a very good wave because it is a combination between a reef and a beachbreak. It’s pretty powerful when it hits the reef and you always get a nice section. The wave changes a lot you can have some good combinations, you can get some good hits on the first section and do a good move, then another in the beachbreak, but the beach break is a bit tricky", he continued.

Hardy, the local boss, used experience and knowledge to his advantage, finding his highest scoring wave today on a rare lefthander. "It definitely pays to have local knowledge at Gas Bay," explained Hardy. "I noticed everyone was looking to go right and when that wave popped up, I was the only one in a position and I could see it was going to be a good one. And it paid off, it was the best wave I had the whole heat."

Tour leader, Pipeline Pro champion Jeff Hubbard, brother Dave, Jake Stone and local wildcard Chad Jackson were drawn against one another in one of the most highly anticipated heats of Round 1. Jackson’s eventual win was a true come-from-behind effort, pulling out a massive score in the dying moments to earn an excellent 9.25 from the judges.

"It (the wave) came in a bit wider, but I could see it had a really good barrel section, then after that I thought I have to really got for it, so I flipped it. That wave was a good set, a lot bigger than most of the waves that came in during my heat and the judges liked it," said Jackson.

Hubbard, who finished second behind Jackson, was the last rider to win under the former 50% progression heat format when he claimed the Pipeline Pro at home in February.

"The new format is cool. The good news is that you don’t get knocked out if you get last or third. There is still pressure to perform in each and every heat," explained Hubbard.