COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS (Monday, April 8, 2019) – Today, Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Caroline Marks (USA) won the Quiksilver Pro and Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast, the opening stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). The final day’s action took place at Duranbah Beach, the event’s backup site, in 0.6 – 1.2 metre waves to determine the first winners of the season.
South Africa’s Jordy Smith (Durban) finished third overall to jumpstart his 2019 world title campaign and possible qualification for the 2020 Olympic Games. Smith, the biggest surfer on the CT, struggled to post high scoring rides in the early rounds but improved as the event progressed.
The Durbanite’s semi-final clash with eventual winner Ferreira was a see-saw duel in which the lead change hands several times as the two protagonists took to the air with futuristic manoeuvres in the small but clean beach-break waves. Despite recording the single highest score of the clash – an excellent 8.67 out of 10 for a high-flying 360 degree rotation, Smith was overtaken by the Brazilian who racked up a heat total of 15.33 out of 20 (8.0 + 7.33) to clinch his place in the final.
Having ended the 2018 season at No. 5 on the Jeep Rankings, Smith now heads for the second event on the schedule, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach near Melbourne next week, buoyed by an opening result that is a big improvement on the13th place he earned on the Gold Coast last year.
The 2019 CT is also the first opportunity for the world’s best surfers to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where surfing will make its Olympic debut. The Championship Tour rankings at the end of this season will determine 18 of the 40 available places (10 men and 8 women). After today’s results, the surfers are one step closer to both qualifying for the Olympics and winning the prestigious WSL World Title.
In 2018, Ferreira proved himself to be one of the most exciting surfers, winning three CT events and finishing the year in fourth place on the Jeep Leaderboard. Today, the 24-year-old got his World Title campaign off to a perfect start with a come-from-behind victory over Californian Kolohe Andino (USA). Ferreira will now sport the Jeep Leader Jersey and focus his attention to Stop No. 2 of 11 on the men’s CT.
“Winning this event at the start of the year is unbelievable, ” Ferreira said. “I knew it would be so hard to beat Kolohe (Andino). I feel really lucky to have beaten him and especially in waves like this. The support on the beach is so unreal. I love all of the Brazilians on the beach. They are incredible cheering us all on. I’m excited to be in the Jeep Leader Jersey again, but it is a long year and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.”
The innovative surfer posted some of the event’s highest scores in the earlier rounds, while also winning the Red Bull Airborne Gold Coast at the start of the waiting period.
17-year-old Marks earned her career-first event win today when she defeated former three-time women’s world champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in the final. Marks takes the early lead on the World Rankings and with only one year on the CT to her name, the young competitor is off to a phenomenal start in her career, already reaching the very top to set the tone for the year ahead.
“I’m really emotional right now,” Marks said. “I can’t believe it. I’m speechless. It’s incredible to be a part of this sport. I just want to thank everyone at WSL, I’m so grateful. It’s so amazing to be a part of women’s surfing. Carissa (Moore) has always been my hero and she still is. To have my first win over her is incredible. This has been the best event and best week of my life. There’s still a lot of work to do for the rest of the year, but I’m definitely going to enjoy this moment.”
In addition to the year’s first elite surfing event, today marked the first CT event to award equal prize money to the female and male competitors following WSL’s commitment in September last year. Each stop on the Championship Tour, in 2019 and beyond, will award equal prize money and continue to host the Rising Tides – WSL Girls Program, the beachside engagement program aimed to inspire the next generation of young girls to take to the surf.
Men’s World Champions Fall Short in Opening Event
After almost a decade of competing on the WSL Championship Tour, two-time WSL Champion John John Florence (HAW) has only made the semi-finals twice at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, once in 2017 and again today, when he was stopped by Andino this morning. Florence recently returned to full-time competition after a sidelining knee injury and now sits in third on the Jeep Leaderboard heading into the next event.
Two-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) was eliminated by Jordy Smith (ZAF) in the quarter-finals. Medina was a standout at D-Bah, posting the highest heat total of the entire event during the earlier rounds. However, Medina was unable to find two decent scores against Smith and finished the event in equal 5th place meaning he will head to Bells without the Jeep Leader Jersey.
Kelly Slater (USA), the 11-time world champion who has missed most of the events in the past 18 months while recovering from an ankle injury incurred in Jeffreys Bay in 2017, returned fit and focussed for another tilt at an unprecedented 12th world title. The 45-year-old continues to match the feats of surfers less than half his age at the world’s most challenging venues but was eliminated early in the 0.5 to 1 metre beach break waves, finishing equal 33rd at Duranbah.
2019 WSL Championship Tour will now head to Stop No. 2, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach. The event window will open on April 17 and run through April 27, 2019. The event will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com and Facebook.com/WSL. Also check local listings for coverage from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
For highlights from the Quiksilver Pro and Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Final Results:
1 – Caroline Marks (USA) 13.83
2 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.67
Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast Semi-final Results:
SF 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 12.67 DEF. Malia Manuel (HAW) 11.50
SF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.90 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 9.87
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Final Results:
1 – Italo Ferreira (BRA) 12.57
2 – Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.43
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Semi-final Results:
SF 1: Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.23 DEF. John John Florence (HAW) 8.96
SF 2: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 15.33 DEF. Jordy Smith (ZAF) 14.67
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Quarter-final Results:
QF 1: John John Florence (HAW) 11.00 DEF. Conner Coffin (USA) 10.56
QF 2: Kolohe Andino (USA) 12.33 DEF. Seth Moniz (HAW) 11.47
QF 3: Jordy Smith (ZAF) 13.17 DEF. Gabriel Medina (BRA) 9.23
QF 4: Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.07 DEF. Wade Carmichael (AUS) 9.77
2019 WSL Women’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (after Gold Coast):
- Caroline Marks (USA) 10,000 points
- Carissa Moore (HAW) 7,800 points
- Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 6,085 points
- Malia Manuel (HAW) 6,085 points
- Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 4,745 points
- Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 4,745 points
- Johanne Defay (FRA) 4,745 points
- Sage Erickson (USA) 4,745 points
2019 WSL Men’s CT Jeep Leaderboard (after Gold Coast):
- Italo Ferreira (BRA) 10,000 points
- Kolohe Andino (USA) 7,800 point
- Jordy Smith (ZAF) 6,085 point
- John John Florence (HAW) 6,085 points
- Gabriel Medina (BRA) 4,745 points
- Conner Coffin (USA) 4,745 points
- Wade Carmichael (AUS) 4,745
- Seth Moniz (HAW) 4,745 points
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com