|Jordy Smith : photo Stu Gibson
Four wheel drive vehicles were put to good use as the Association of Surfing Professionals 6-star rated O’Neill Cold Water Classic went mobile by accessing the ‘beach road’ to Lighthouse Beach for bigger and wilder surf.
Despite cold on-shore winds, the right waves were solid and offered power surfers plenty of scope to score big. Defending Tasmanian event champion Jordy Smith was the day’s outstanding surfer posting the day’s highest heat score of 17.17 late in the day.
Shortly after Smith’s powerhouse display young Hawaiian John John Florence revealed his potential executing two high degree difficulty aerial moves separated by a critical top turn to score a perfect 10 point ride and eliminate experienced campaigners Nathan Hedge (AUS) and Jonathon Gonzales (Canary Islands).
Australia’s Blake Wilson hails from probably the warmest surfing waters in Australia on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast but he looked right at home here posting an early excellent 8 point ride on his way to an impressive round one heat win.
“When I’m scoring 8 point rides I’m loving these conditions” laughed Wilson after his win. “I’m staying in a warm house on the bluff and when I’m in the water competing I’m going hard so that keeps me warm out there and as long as the surf stays solid I’m happy down here.”
Heavy sea mists rolled through the line-up at regular intervals today and this wilderness coastline is delivering the type of weather it’s renown for. Today’s direct on-shore winds saw the surface of the waves surprisingly clean but still challenging as surfers hunted for waves delivering longer walls while trying to avoid the close-outs.
Hawaiian Granger Larson along with Brazilian surfers Gabriel Medina and Yuri Sodre all excelled scoring solid round one heat wins.
With the entire round one completed organizers pushed into the opening heats of round two which introduced the events highest seeds including defending champion Jordy Smith (South Africa) and elite ASP Dream Tour surfers Bobby Martinez (USA), Roy Powers (Hawaii), Blake Thornton (AUS), Daniel Ross (AUS), Chris Davidson (AUS), Drew Courtney (AUS) and Matt Wilkinson (AUS).
Six heats of round two were completed by day’s end and round two is expected to be completed tomorrow. The outlook ahead is for improving surf and maybe even weather with a strong possibility of outstanding surf as the event heads into the finals through Friday, Saturday and Sunday.