Margaret River/Western Australia – A powerful and building 2m (6-feet plus) swell provided great waves as rounds one and two of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Six-Star Rated Women's Drug Aware Pro were completed.
Sally Fitzgibbons lead the charge of high quality performances in her opening round heat choosing the biggest and best waves to demolish her opponents on a score-line of 15.50 for her top two scoring rides (an 8.00 and a 7.50) with French surfer Alizee Arnaud a distant second on just 5.66.
"I really enjoy the challenges of surfing Margaret River, the waves are always solid and you can really push the performances here knowing the wave has the power to reward you – it's one of my favorite locations to surf," said Fitzgibbons.
"It's a great field for this year's event and with quite a few high level events over the next few months competing here keeps me focused—with solid waves looking likely all week I'm really keen to do well—the raw energy of the waves is similar to my home breaks so I feel very comfortable out there."
Local girls also revelled in today's conditions with Gracetown sisters Laura and Bronte Macaulay both advancing through their early heats.
As the daughters of former great ASP World Tour surfer Dave Macaulay, they surf the outstanding waves in this region throughout the year and while both are relative youngsters in this quality field, (Laura at 17 and Bronte 16) they demonstrated today that they'll be formidable opponents particularly in these solid and familiar surf conditions.
Laura won her round two heat today defeating current elite ASP World Tour surfers Amee Donohoe (AUS) and Hawaii's Alana Blanchard.
"This is a great opportunity for both of us to surf against the best surfers in the world and really assess how we measure up to them so we're really just going out there each heat and doing our best without worrying about the pressure too much and it's going well at this stage," said Macauley.
"Dad's out there in the channel as our board caddy during the heats and it's good to have him there watching and advising us!"
Others to impress in the powerful conditions included Jessi Myley-Dyer (AUS), Nicola Atherton (AUS) and Rosanne Hodge (South Africa) .
The swell continued to build during the afternoon heats and 18 year-old Sydney surfer Laura Enever caused the day's biggest upset when she won her heat defeating Mizuki Hagiwara from Japan in second and eliminating the number one seed Sofia Mulanovich from Peru.
The very next heat saw the day's best performance executed by the events youngest surfer in Tyler Wright. The 15 year-old NSW surfer was outstanding picking off the biggest waves of the day and scored a near perfect 9.67 on her final ride blasting three huge top-to-bottom turn snaps. She easily finished the heat with the day's top scoring ride and top scoring heat tally of 16.67.
"The waves are pumping out there," said Wright.
"I've surfed here a few years ago in junior events and I love the place, so much power in the waves—that was a great start for me but it's early days here so I'll just focus on the next heat now and not get carried away with that heat."
Men's round three heats appear certain to hit the water first thing tomorrow morning with outstanding conditions forecast and the first heat of the day should see local favourite and current world number one rated surfer Taj Burrow in action. All the top seeded surfers are introduced into tomorrow's round and the action will highlight just how much impact the new ASP one world rating system has had.
In great waves expect to see super-charged performances from Burrow, De Souza, Fanning, Durbidge, Owen Wright, the Hobgood brothers and many more.
Round three heat one of the Drug Aware Pro Men's should begin at 7:30 a.m. West Australian time-line.