South Africans Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag have joined the world’s best surfers who are converging on Australia’s Gold Coast for the opening events of the elite 2015 World Surf League (WSL) Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour (CT) season.
The US $525 000 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast for men and the $262 500 Roxy Pro Gold Coast for women will be held from February 28 to March 11 in Coolangatta, Queensland, with the renowned hollow tubes of Snapper Rocks the headquarters for the events which run concurrently.
The WSL (formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)) Samsung Galaxy CT features the Top 34 male and Top 17 female surfers on the planet as they compete on an international, 20-event tour in the hunt for the undisputed world surfing crown. The unparalleled adventure, competitive drama and athleticism of professional surfing is accessible LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.
Smith ended the 2014 season in 7th place on the rankings after a stellar last third of the year that saw the Durban raised 27 year-old claim his fourth career CT event title at Trestles near his new home in San Clemente, California in September. He went on to finish 3rd in France and runner-up in Portugal, both in October, climbing seven places in six weeks.
Touted as a potential WSL World Champion ever since finishing runner-up to Kelly Slater (USA) in the 2010 season, just his second on the elite tour, Smith will be going all out to kickstart his 2015 campaign with a great result at the opening event where 50% of the winners over the past decade have gone on to clinch that year’s world title.
Buitendag, who finished her second season amongst the world’s top 17 ranked women also ranked No. 7, will be hoping to go one better than her sensational runner-up finish to eventual 2014 Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) at Snapper Rocks last year.
The 21 year-old from Victoria Bay in the Southern Cape, like Smith the tallest competitor on tour, will be determined to win her first CT event and break into the top 5 in the world this year.
Gabriel Medina (BRA), reigning WSL Champion and defending Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner, posted an historic victory last season by edging out an international field of extraordinary talent to claim the world surfing crown – the first Brazilian ever to do so and also the first goofy-foot surfer (rides with right foot in front) since Marc Occhilupo (AUS) in 1999.
Mick Fanning (AUS) and Kelly Slater (USA), three-time and 11-time world champions respectively, put on a spirited battle for the crown in 2014, sending the title race to the final event of the season at Pipeline in Hawaii. Although Fanning, 33, narrowly missed out on a fourth title, the lightning-fast Australian will enjoy the benefit of commencing the 2015 season at home on the Gold Coast. Slater, who recently turned 43, continues to redefine high performance with every heat as well as further cement his legacy as one of the greatest athletes of all time.
Others with potential claims on the 2015 crown include Hawaiian prodigy John John Florence, arguably the world’s standout performer over the last six months, along with 2012 champion Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Tahiti’s Michel Bourez, the winner of two events last year.
The men’s rookie class for the 2015 season includes Matt Banting (AUS), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW) and Ricardo Christie (NZL) with returning CT surfers Dusty Payne (HAW) and Glenn Hall (IRL) rejoining the world’s elite after a brief hiatus.
Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), reigning six-time world champion, solidified her dynasty with a juggernaut performance in 2014, getting closer to the all-time female title-holder record of seven, set by Layne Beachley (AUS) in 2006. The Gold Coast local commenced last year’s run with a hometown win at the season opener at Snapper Rocks and will look to do the same at the 2015 Roxy Pro Gold Coast.
Tyler Wright (AUS), Carissa Moore (HAW) and Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) turned the 2014 women’s title race into the most exciting and hard-fought in the sport’s history and will be challenging Gilmore for the No. 1 spot.
The Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (AUS), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Brett Simpson (USA)
Heat 2: Michel Bourez (PYF), Sebastian Zietz (HAW), Ricardo Christie (ZAF)
Heat 3: Kelly Slater (USA), Fredrick Patacchia (HAW), C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW), Jadson Andre (BRA), Glenn Hall (IRL)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS), TBD
Heat 6: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), TBD
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Kai Otton (AUS), Jeremy Flores (FRA)
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Filipe Toledo (BRA), Dusty Payne (HAW)
Heat 9: Taj Burrow (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS), Keanu Asing (HAW)
Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Matt Wilkinson (AUS)
Heat 11: Kolohe Andino (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), Italo Ferreira (BRA)
Heat 12: Owen Wright (AUS), Nat Young (USA), Adam Melling (AUS)
Roxy Pro Gold Coast Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Malia Manuel (HAW), Johanne Defay (FRA), Sage Erickson (USA)
Heat 2: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Courtney Conlogue (USA), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
Heat 3: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Silvana Lima (BRA), TBD
Heat 4: Tyler Wright (AUS), Dimity Stoyle (AUS), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 5: Carissa Moore (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW)
Heat 6: Lakey Peterson (USA), Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Coco Ho (HAW)
About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL) organizes the annual tour of professional surf competitions and broadcasts each event live at WorldSurfLeague.com where you can experience the athleticism, drama and adventure of competitive surfing — anywhere and anytime it’s on. The WSL sanctions and operates the following tours: the Junior Tour, Longboard Tour, the Qualifying Series (QS), the Big Wave Tour and the crown jewel of the sport, the WSL Championship Tour (CT) which determines the sport’s undisputed world champions. The organization is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with Commercial Offices in New York. The offices are supported by regional centers in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America and South America.
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