Day 3 of the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro saw the women's quarterfinals as well as Round 2 of the men's contest being completed in bigger conditions. Here are six talking points straight from the mouths of the day’s biggest winners in their post-heat interviews.
"Hedgey is intense. It's been funny: For the last three days, he has been walking straight past me, not even talking to me. Like he was ready to come out of the box, so I knew it would be tough."—Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater was referring to a close-fought battle with Nathan Hedge. Hedge, the winner of the trials event here, is a previous No. 4 in the world and has overcome drug and alcohol addiction issues to return to the Tour. He is without sponsors, but has a burning desire to succeed. He only just failed to upset the 11-time world champ, but anyone who surfs against the goofy-footer this year won't win without a fight.
"I had a bad run on the Gold Coast and I had a bad first heat here, so I was kinda freaking out."—John John Florence
Maybe Florence should freak out more often. Today he nailed the highest individual wave score with a 9.87 that featured a huge carve, reentry, tube, and aerial, and with one 30-minute heat he regained some much-needed confidence. "I know I can win here, 'cause I've won here before," said the 2012 winner, "and I love this wave. It's a lot like the waves we surf at home."
"I was quite happy. I rode a Chris Gallagher board with four fins and I was talking to Kelly Slater and I was like, 'Dude, you just have to draw your turns out and cover extra ground, as it looks better from the beach.' I did that and was just stoked, 'cause sometimes you make right choices and sometimes you don't."—C.J. Hobgood
In his 16th year on Tour, 2001 world champion C.J. Hobgood has made many decisions—the majority of them the correct ones. Today his experience, heat strategy, and board choice all paid off as he netted a 15.09 in a relatively wave-starved heat against Raoni Monteiro.
"It sucks surfing against an American because there's not that many of us [Australians] on Tour."—Nat Young
Nat Young not only defeated a compatriot in Brett Simpson, but he also defeated his traveling companion and good friend. "Brett is one of my best friends," said Young. "We are sharing a car and a house over [here]. We have been driving down every morning in the dark to surf together, so it sucks, but I suppose but one of us has to lose."
"I was pretty flustered, as I just kept making mistakes. I was just lucky I got one in the end. And you know Courtney [Conlogue] is so assertive in the lineup and just dominates that pole position. I just had to find a way to get out of a sticky situation."—Steph Gilmore
Steph Gilmore needed a last-minute wave to scrape through her quarterfinal against Courtney Conlogue by just 0.03 of a point. Yet to really turn on the afterburners in the event so far, the five-time world champion knows there is no better time than in her semifinal against 2013 world champion Carissa Moore. It should be a cracker.
"That is just me being me, being a peanut. It's just the way I loosen up. I always feel like I'm in a good vibe when I'm dancing. It just works for me."—Tyler Wright
Tyler Wright is referring to her unique pre-heat warm-up routine, a mix of dance and stretching that fans have been joining in with. Its indicative of Wright's happy-go-lucky approach to life. Make no mistake, though: It works. She dominated her quarterfinal against Laura Enever and might just be dancing her way to an event win.
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