Kelly Slater: the Gold Coast miner

The 2011 ASP World Title season is up and running at primary venue of Snapper Rocks, in Australia. Taj Burrow, Kelly Slater, Matt Wilkinson, Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith and Tiago Pires have kicked of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast with full power performances.

The top world surfers enjoyed rippable two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves and completed the first round of surf rides. Snapper Rocks was delivering barrels and air sections, so the crowd on the beach and watching online were treated to some impressive opening day action.

Burrow’s combination of impressive tube-riding and high-performance netted him the highest heat total of the day, a 16.67 out of a possible 20, to best American opponents Bobby Martinez, 28, and Cory Lopez, 33.

"I feel good now that it’s over and done with," Burrow said. "I was still a little nervous even though I got the win last week at Burleigh because this is the big event. It’s the first one of the year with the points and ratings and everything up for grabs and it’s the one you want to do well in, but I was just the right amount of nervous I guess. I kind of shook off the nerves once I got that first one (the 9.27), everyone loves to start a heat off like that."

Jordy Smith, 23, 2010 ASP World Runner-Up, has returned to Australia following an off-season spent in his native South Africa, and the well-built natural-footer continued to shine amongst the world’s best. Smith blitzed opponents Patrick Gudauskas, 25, and Mitch Crews, 20, with unmatched power and aerial prowess.

"I’m super excited about the new season," Smith said. "I just had a good start. I spent Christmas at home with my family, it was the first time I’ve been able to do that in 10 years and now it’s good to be on the Gold Coast, stoked".

Mick Fanning, 29, former two-time ASP World Champion, secured the day’s highest single-wave score, a 9.33 out of a possible 10, for a Houdini-esque barrel and some unbridled power surfing.

"I’m pretty stoked I got that one good wave at the start and that settled the nerves," Fanning said. "It was really slow and really wobbly out there. There wasn’t really any wind, so I’m just pretty stoked to feel one out and make it through that first heat."

Kelly Slater, 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion, remained calculated in dealing with the day’s deteriorating conditions. The Floridian scrapped past wildcard Matt Banting, 16, and Kai Otton, 31, to advance directly to Round 3 of competition.

"I don’t really approach heats with wildcards differently," Slater said. "My game plan stays the same. There are heats where you know you have to let loose, but today was more focusing on getting the good waves and completing them. It’s not exceptional out there, so if you find a clean face and get a few good carves, you’ll probably get the highest score of the heat. I was just trying to find the clean ones."

QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 RESULTS:

Heat 1:Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.26, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.44, Heitor Alves (BRA) 6.57
Heat 2: Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 15.67, Gabe Kling (USA) 12.27, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.03
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 16.03, Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.57, Cory Lopez (USA) 7.90
Heat 4: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.67, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 9.17, Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 9.10
Heat 5: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 16.07, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 10.37, Mitch Crews (AUS) 11.07
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) 13.93, Matt Banting (AUS) 11.34, Kai Otton (AUS) 6.70
Heat 7: Owen Wright (AUS) 12.83, Taylor Knox (USA) 11.46, Dusty Payne (HAW) 10.60
Heat 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.70, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 9.87, Brett Simpson (USA) 7.77
Heat 9: Joel Parkinson (AUS) 15.00, Adriano de Souza (BRA), Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.20
Heat 10: Daniel Ross (AUS), 13.00, Michel Bourez (PYF) 9.10, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 7.43
Heat 11: Adam Melling (AUS) 11.40, Kieren Perrow (AUS) 11.13, Chris Davidson (AUS) 10.73
Heat 12: Tiago Pires (PRT) 15.83, Jadson Andre (BRA)12.70, Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.77