Kelly Slater victorious in self-shaped board at Duranbah Beach

February 28, 2009 | Surfing

Kelly Slater in the 2009 Quiksilver Pro

The opening day of the 2009 ASP World Tour season got underway this morning, with the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast presented by LG completing Round 1 in clean two-to-three foot (1 metre) waves at the backup venue of Duranbah Beach.

Event No. 1 of 10 on the 2009 ASP World Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast opted to mobilize from the primary site of Snapper Rocks to nearby Duranbah Beach this morning to take advantage of the increased wave heights on offer, and despite conditions being challenging at times, the world’s best surfers delivered an explosive opening day of competition.

Kelly Slater (USA), 37, reigning and nine-time ASP World Champion, took to experimenting with his equipment during Round 1, opting to ride an unconventional self-shaped, 5’4” round-tail quad en route to victory over Dayyan Neve (AUS), 30, and Daniel Wills (AUS), 33.

"I am surfing a little 5’4" - a board I made actually – a pretty drastic change to what I normally ride but the tail is very similar,” Slater said. “This is the step I wanted to take when I went [to shorter boards] last year from 6’1" to 5’10" and I thought I was kind of stopping there but we’ll see. 5’4" is too short and I might end up with a 5’6" or a 5’7"."

Historically candid about his intentions to compete full-time on the ASP World Tour, Slater has since committed to his interest in acquiring a 10th world crown, albeit with guarded apprehension.

"It looks good on paper but honestly I am not that consumed about it,” Slater said. “The only time I talk about is when people ask me. It’s just a nice round number, double digits, and it’s rare for people to get that in sports so it will be nice to make it."

Julian Wilson (AUS), 20, gained entry into the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast as a wildcard, and went on to cause one of the biggest upsets of the day, defeating current ASP World No. 2 Bede Durbidge (AUS), 25, and Mikael Picon (FRA), 29, in Round 1 of competition.

"I had a little bit of pressure before that heat,” Wilson said. “I was anxious to get out there and get it done. But when I walked down before my heat, I saw my friends and family so I kind of relaxed and then went out there and got a couple of waves and made it. I haven’t made it passed the third round so I am really fired up to getting pass that round. I’ll probably get Kelly (Slater) in the third round so I’ll see what happens."

Riding a fluorescent pink surfboard to raise awareness about breast cancer, Wilson’s progressive approach saw him execute a number of technical aerials and fin-free maneuvers before breaking his equipment in half during the latter stages of the heat.

“I just didn’t want Bede to get another wave so I took and tried a big air, snapped my board on the landing,” Wilson said. “It’s okay because I have a backup, but that was a really good board.”

Damien Hobgood (USA), 29, current ASP World No. 5, punctuated an otherwise mediocre-scoring day of competition with some scintillating backhand exhibitions, netting the highest heat total of the day, a 17.50 out of a possible 20, to defeat ASP Dream Tour sophomore Aritz Aranburu (EUK), 23, and twin brother, former ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 5, C.J. Hobgood (USA), 29, in Round 1 of competition.

“Obviously it was fun for me,” Hobgood said. “A lot of the waves came towards me, but C.J. and I were stoked because no one loses and it gives us a chance to loosen up a bit and not care as much. D’Bah is like Huntington where you paddle out there and it seems like all the waves are running away from you. I was lucky. I was in position for a lot of the sets.”

Once a perennial Top 10 finisher, Hobgood has seen recent seasons marred by injury. Now healthy and back to 100%, the Floridian goofy-footer will look to rebound in 2009.

“I haven’t been injured in a while so it feels really good,” Hobgood said. “I’ve been spending a lot of time in the water and on my boards. It’s good, I feel really comfortable.”

Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 23, took top honors for the 2009 ASP Dream Tour rookies today, netting the event’s highest single-wave score of a 9.33 out of a possible 10 to defeat Chris Davidson (AUS) and Kai Otton (AUS), 29.

“He [Chris Davidson] came out guns blazing,” Bacalso said. “I kept getting the first waves and he would get the second a smoke me on the exchange. I had my back against the fence and knew I had to bring out something special. I thought about Round 2 and did not want to be surfing in it, that’s everyone’s worst nightmare.”

Bacalso led fellow 2009 ASP World Tour rookies Tim Boal (FRA), 25, and Nic Muscroft (AUS), 26, in Round 1 victories. All surfers will advance directly to Round 3.

Jay Thompson (AUS), 25, caused another massive upset today, defeating heavily-touted local Joel Parkinson (AUS), 27, and veteran power surfer Taylor Knox (USA), 37, in Round 1 of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast.

"Surfing at home in front of the local crowd is just amazing," Thompson said. "When you are a bit tired, you automatically get back out there with the support of the fans. It definitely makes a big difference."

An ASP Dream Tour rookie in 2008, Thompson failed to requalify for the ASP World Tour this season, but entered into the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast as an alternate for the injured Luke Stedman (AUS), 32, who is out with broken toes.

"The position of being the replacement surfer does take a lot of pressure off me,” Thompson said. “I had such a terrible year last year and had a few criticisms and a few injuries but you see a lot of rookies in that position and they fall off first year and they come back hungrier so that’s the path for me hopefully. If I don’t get in all the events, it still is experience for 2010 so that’s why I will take it. But if there is a chance to surf a lot of events, I am going to surf hard and requalify through the ASP World Tour."

Heat 1: Jeremy Flores (FRA) 13.67, Dustin Barca 11.87, Dean Morrison (AUS) 9.70
Heat 2: Tiago Pires (PRT) 12.00, Bobby Martinez (USA) 12.00, Roy Powers (HAW) 7.27
Heat 3: Mick Fanning (AUS) 11.83, Ben Dunn (AUS) 11.37, Phillip MacDonald (AUS) 8.76
Heat 4: Adriano de Souza (BRA) 12.80, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 12.00, Drew Courtney (AUS) 8.57
Heat 5: Heitor Alves (BRA) 13.67, Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.30, Marlon Lipke (DEU) 10.27
Heat 6: Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.50, C.J. Hobgood (USA) 12.83, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 4.93
Heat 7: Jay Thompson (AUS) 13.67, Taylor Knox (USA) 12.67, Joel Parkinson (AUS) 12.00
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA) 12.17, Dayyan Neve (AUS) 11.00, Daniel Wills (AUS) 10.67
Heat 9: Julian Wilson (AUS) 14.10, Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.73, Mikael Picon (FRA) 9.06
Heat 10: Taj Burrow (AUS) 16.50, Dane Reynolds (USA) 14.23, Corey Ziems (AUS) 8.80
Heat 11: Tim Boal (FRA) 15.84, Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 13.94, Mick Campbell (AUS) 13.06
Heat 12: Greg Emslie (ZAF) 13.66, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 8.67, Chris Ward (USA) 8.50
Heat 13: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) 17.33, Chris Davidson (AUS) 15.84, Kai Otton (AUS) 9.83
Heat 14: Nic Muscroft (AUS) 15.33, Michel Bourez (PYF) 12.90, Tim Reyes (USA) 9.57
Heat 15: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.50, Gabe Kling (USA) 11.07, Tom Whitaker (AUS) 10.60
Heat 16: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 13.60, Jihad Khodr (BRA) 9.61, David Weare (ZAF) 9.34

Heat 1: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Daniel Wills (AUS)
Heat 2: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Corey Ziems (AUS)
Heat 3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) vs. Aritz Aranburu (EUK)
Heat 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Marlon Lipke (DEU)
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) vs. Drew Courtney (AUS)
Heat 6: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) vs. Phillip MacDonald (AUS)
Heat 7: Chris Ward (USA) vs. Dustin Barca (HAW)
Heat 8: Kai Otton (AUS) vs. David Weare (ZAF)
Heat 9: Tim Reyes (USA) vs. Jihad Khodr (BRA)
Heat 10: Tom Whitaker (AUS) vs. Gabe Kling (USA)
Heat 11: Dayyan Neve (AUS) vs. Michel Bourez (PYF)
Heat 12: Michael Picon (FRA) vs. Chris Davidson (AUS)
Heat 13: Dane Reynolds (USA) vs. Nathaniel Curran (USA)
Heat 14: Taylor Knox (USA) vs. Mick Campbell (AUS)
Heat 15: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Dean Morrison (AUS)
Heat 16: Ben Dunn (AUS) vs. Roy Powers (HAW)

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