The Winners and Losers of the Quiksilver and Boost Mobile Pros, Gold Coast 2019

11 Apr 2019 1 Share

Photo: WSL/Cestari

Photo: WSL/Cestari


Plucking out who should and shouldn't be stoked after event 1...

The 2019 CT year has started. One event down, nine (is it nine?) events to go. But now that a couple days have passed since Italo Ferreira and Caroline Marks tasted glory on the Gold Coast, we’ve come home, showered, rested, and found time to quickly reflect on who and what really won, and who and what really lost at the Gold Coast Pro. So before we don our beanies and jackets and head to Bells, these are the winners and losers of the Quiksiver and Boost Mobile Pros Gold Coast, as deemed by a guy who doesn't know anything about anything (Mike Jennings).


Well yeah, obviously she’s a winner. She won the whole comp. Easy one this one. But Caroline Marks is also a winner for more symbolic reasons than just getting the trophy at the end of the event. And it’s not just the fact she had to take down 10 World Titles on her way to the win either. Caroline Marks is the big winner because she is still about 30 years younger than her next youngest opponents – even rookies Brisa Hennessy and Macy Callaghan are ancient in comparison (actually, they’re about two years and one and a half years older, respectively, but still...), and Marks already looks like the genuine World Title threat in just her second year on tour. And if Marks wins the 2019 World Title, she’ll be the youngest surfer, male or female, to ever do so. That would be a World Champ still four years from being able to legally celebrate with a drink in her home country. This is Martina Hingis level prodigious talent we're watching. And it's great!

Photo: WSL/Cestari

Photo: WSL/Cestari

Loser* – Steph Gilmore (5th)

Speaking of Caroline Marks, one of the impressive scalps she took along the way to the trophy was none other than the seven time World Champion, Stephanie Gilmore. The two met in the quarter-finals and it was the grom who had the groove, sending Steph out of the comp earlier than a World Title campaign would like. Now a fifth is not a disaster by any means, and it is the exact same result Steph logged at last year’s opening event when she went on to become World Champion, but a World Title is not built on fifths, a result usually the lowest kept in a Women’s Word Title year, but when we lay out the year of events ahead, the Gold Coast is one the local would have pencilled in for a semi-final or better. And semi-finals or better is the line to stay above in 2019 if Stephanie Gilmore is to become a World Champion for a historic eighth time.

*lol, can you imagine actually calling Steph Gilmore a loser? What a ridiculous idea. She's the best surfer on the planet on every level.


Haha, this guy, this bloody guy... he’s good. Like, really really good at surfing. Like, close your eyes and imagine someone who is quite good at surfing. Now imagine someone even better than that… that’s the level of good Italo Ferreira is at surfing right now. I know that’s some pretty hardcore surf analysis from yours truly, but I refuse to dumb it down any further. Anyway, after dominating every facet of the event, including the Red Bull Airborne event, Italo won the Quiksilver Pro and took the world no.1 spot on the rankings. This win marks Italo’s fourth CT win in roughly 12 months, and let’s think about for a hot second: there are only 11 events in a men's CT year, and for the last 11, Italo has won 36% of them. Crazy. That’s what you call being on a tear.

Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Photo: WSL/Dunbar


Ugh. Julian Wilson lost in round 3 to the trials winner, young Reef Heazlewood. After his incredible 2018, experiencing his first genuine World Title showdown at Pipe, this is a let down of a beginning to his 2019 campaign, especially considering he was the defending champion on the Goldy. That said, Julian might be the best Bells surfer to never have won the Rip Curl Pro getting around right now. So it won’t be surprising if he shakes this off and comes back firing in Vicco.

Hey, also, here’s a weird stat – in both heats that Julian Wilson lost on the Gold Coast, Round 1 and Round 3, Julian surfed 13 waves. That’s a lot of waves, and across the 47 heats of the event it was topped only twice by other surfers (with 14 waves). Does that mean something? It must mean something, right? You only need two waves to win a heat I'm pretty sure.


Carissa Moore has been in the competitive surfing wilderness. She's been like the surfing equivalent of all those lost characters who were lost on the show... Lost. The three time World Champ and once undisputed high performance supreme ruler of women’s professional surfing had a shocker in 2018, not getting past the quarter-finals until the Vans Us Open of surfing, after six of the ten events had past. By then the Title Race had well and truly bolted, much like any hope of those Lost characters of being rescued (no idea if this is right, I never watched it).

2017 was even worse, not getting past the quarters until the eighth event in Portugal. And 2016 was a whole lot of semi-finals and not a lot of break through, as Tyler Wright teed off on just about everyone and dominated the whole year.

But in 2019, Carissa Moore has had her first good start to a campaign since she last won the World Title in 2015. Sure, in that year she won the first two events and then backed them up with a final in the third… but after the hardship of terrible results in the four years since, finishing second and placing herself at the top end of the rankings early must feel damn near similar to back then.

Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Photo: WSL/Dunbar


After falling in Round 1, Sally surfed her way to the semis, eventually losing to Carissa Moore. But it’s not just the result that looked good for Sally, although a third is nothing to sniff at, it was the way Sally appeared to carry herself through the event. Sally looked light, breezy, happy. At one point during the broadcast she was shown to be kicking a soccer ball with random beachgoers as she prepped for the very next heat. “She’s so cool, man,” said World Longboard Champion Steven Sawyer, guesting on the broadcast commentary at the time. And then when she hit the water, she looked like she was actually having fun when she was surfing. There was joy in every turn. Sally has come into the fold of the Micro Surf Academy in 2019, and it looks like it’s already paying dividends. Plus, she’s now the frontrunner for the Australian Olympic team in 2020. "Australian Olympian Sally Fitzgibbons..." it just sounds kinda right, don't ya think?

LOSER – KELLY SLATER (best not to say)

In his return from injury, and in what is very likely the greatest of all time’s final year on the Championship Tour, Kelly Slater lost his Round 1 heat and then lost his Round 2 heat, picking up the worst possible result. This comes after having a pretty bad warm-up event in Manly for the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro, too. The new format means that you can be eliminated from the event without surfing a traditional man-on-man heat, and I'm not sure Slater is all that good at the three-man heats any more, which could make this year pretty brutal.

It doesn’t feel like it’s in Slater’s DNA to go through 2019 as a big party, coming last or near-last each event in a big fun farewell tour for the fans (especially with Olympic qualification on the mind), so this could get pretty ugly. Let’s hope not, though. Let’s hope Tahiti is 20 foot. Slater needs it. We all need 20 foot Tahiti in 2019.


It has to suck to lose your fourth final… like that. And it has to suck being far and away the best surfer of the era to have never won a contest. But starting the year with a second is absolutely a win for Kolohe. Now that the elder statesmen of surfing are gone, it’s time for a new era to cement themselves as the “the guys”, and Kolohe could well and truly do that in 2019 if he can find the consistency. Kolohe has all the physical surf tools to be Geny Y version of Mick Fanning, but Mick’s greatest asset was his mental fortitude. If Kolohe can find that, we’ll have a multiple World Champ on our hands. That’s the biggest of ifs, though. Bells is where we’ll see if it’s a possibility.

Photo: WSL/Dunbar

Photo: WSL/Dunbar


Lakey Peterson was the defending champ of the event. Her breakout year in 2018 saw her challenge Steph for the World Title and get pretty bloody close. How one bounces back from such agonising defeat in a long year like that is telling, and starting the year with a loss in Round 3 is a tough return for Lakey. Conlogue, on the other hand, missed the first half of last year due to injury, then came back and won two events. That's amazing. She would have been looking to continue that injury free and firing form into the first half of 2019 to build a solid World Title campaign and finally go one better than her two runner up finishes. A round 3 exit doesn’t do that.


Returning from an injury suffered after winning two World Titles on the trot, John John went all the way to the semis in event 1 for 2019, and he never even looked like he broke out of second gear to get there. That’s a solid result, especially considering the doubts hanging over John in the form of an injury cloud, (heard word from an ex-World Champ that John has looked shaky).

The solid result becomes absolutely golden, however, when you look at John’s past history with this event: John John sucks on the Gold Coast. Honestly, he's normally hot garbage. Of his seven previous starts he’s only done better than 25th or 13th twice, and guess what kinds of years he had when he did that? That’s right, World Title years. With a third in 2019, John equals his best ever start to a year and puts one of his bogey events behind as a keeper.

"Take that Gold Coast, ya big ol' dingus!" – Me, pretending to be John John after finishing 3rd.


In 2010 Jordy Smith made the final of the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. In 2011 and 2012 he made the semi finals. That's really good, hey?

Now let’s have a look at how he’s opened every year since then: 13th, 25th, 9th, 25th, 9th, 13th.

Speeeeew! Six years is a long time to go without a finals appearance for a surfer like Jordy at an event like Snapper. A third place this year will do massive things for another Jordy Smith World Title campaign, especially if he can keep this going at Bells, where he’s morally the top seed.

A confident Jordy is a hard to beat Jordy, and you better believe he'd be feeling confident now. Or don't believe it, whatever, it's a free country! I'm gonna go buy a bag of almonds!

Photo: WSL/Cestari

Photo: WSL/Cestari


You know the types that can't accept that Brazil is easily the best surfing nation on the planet? Haha, well have a look at this image of the events page on the WSL website, as dug up by my friend Lincoln Either. Can you imagine the heads exploding on this one?! So good!

He also added this salient point:


Well here’s something fun to think about... with Wade Carmichael’s quarter-final finish at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast, the Central Coast underdog madman legend guy is leading the charge to make the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo 2020. What a lord!


Just joshing... But still, when you think of all the Men's World Champions we've had in our history, and how few (none) of them we have on tour at the moment. It's grim.


Only four heats in the losers' round of Round 2? (And just two for the ladies) Overlapping, super fun and entertaining heats in the big man-on-man rounds of Rounds 3 and 4? More waves ridden more often, and earlier rounds pumped through quicker than ever before? This was rad! It will be interesting how the overlapping heats will apply at events with a more distinct line-up than a beachbreak like D-Bah, however.


So, turns out there’s a downside to the Gold Coast experiencing incredible jaw-dropping cyclone swells.  You lose all the sand that makes your world class break what it is just as the best surfers in the world come into town. Who knew?! Ah well, swings and roundabouts. We’ll see you next year Snapper... maybe.


The fact the event was moved to Duranbah due to the state of the banks and not, as is usually the case when it’s moved, due to the state of the swell, meant that we got to see Duranbah actually do its thing as a world class surfing event venue. And it delivered. The whole event, save the final day, was fun beachbreak conditions and entertaining surfing. There wasn’t a single ten, but it didn’t seem to matter, the beach provided a canvas for the contest which by nature is compelling viewing. That's a helluva backup venue.

Its only downfall was caused by the attempt to move finals day to Snapper on the Sunday, which didn’t happen, missing sick waves at D-Bah and running the final on a worse Monday... ¯\_('L ')_/¯


That final wave was a tough decision, but they definitely got it right/wrong. Italo’s air was a full rotation stomped into the flats and a half point better than Kolohe’s/Italo's air was sick, but Kolohe's was tail high and coming off a better section. Tough call either way to be honest, but sheeeeesh, the judges had their work cut out for them on the Gold Coast for this event. With the overlapping heat format on the huge line-up of D-Bah to contend with, and then to get a last gasp wave to hang the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast winner on, and then have nowhere to hide on the beach due to the relocation of the event. Courage under fire this event dear judges, but they really nailed it/blew it.

Who were your winners and losers from event 1 of the WSL Championship Tour?

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