2017 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro First Day Recap

Sebastian Zeitz, Defending Champion of Drug Aware Margaret River Pro | Photo Credit: WSL

Round 1 of the 2017 Drug Aware Margaret River Pro kicked off in great conditions. Throughout the first round, most surfers were getting average to below average scores. Only a few standouts were able to nail some hard-to-get gems. The day saw a mixture of veterans and rookies winning the heats. It seems the rookies on tour are more confident now going into the second stop of the Championship Tour.

Kelly Slater won his first round heat against Mick Fanning and Leonardo Fioravanti with a total combined score of 8.07. Slater got into a double up and dropped into a barrel that although wasn’t deep enough, earned him a good backup score of 3.90 to add to his 4.17. This gave him enough margin to win the heat with Fanning finishing close with a 6.67 heat total.

Kelly Slater wins Heat 1:

Kolohe Andino was among the surfers in the event to catch a wave with a score higher than 7.0. In Heat 2, Andino waited patiently to catch his very first wave of the heat. With 15 minutes left, he was able to get deep in a barrel and his patience was rewarded with a 7.0. He backed it up with another 1.77 a few minutes later to finish better than Ezekiel Lau’s 7.00 total. Stu Kennedy who wasn’t able to find a good wave finished the heat with a 1.20 total score.

Matt Wilkinson did not seem to find any rhythm in Heat 3 where he finished last, having a total score of 3.10. Jack Freestone took the heat with a combined score of 6.77, while Miguel Pupo finished with 3.17.

Jordy Smith was another standout for the day. With his knowledge of the wave, he was able to get a good combination score. In Heat 4, Jordy finished with a 13.76 heat total coming off of his deep barrel ride on his last wave where he was able to get out clean through the doggy door. Nat Young put up quite a good fight against Smith, finishing second with a total of 12.00. Kanoa Igarashi finished with a 1.77.

Here is the replay of Round 1 Heat 4:

In Heat 5, wildcard Jesse Mendes took down fellow Brazilians Gabriel Medina and Wiggolly Dantas. Mendes secured his lead with less than 8 minutes left when he had a late take off and slid into the barrel with great positioning and completed the ride flying out gracefully. He was rewarded a 7.40, which Medina and Dantas struggled hard to catch up with.

World Champion John John Florence was another standout who finished with a 13.67 heat total. Florence waited patiently until there was less than 12 minutes left in the heat. He pulled into a barrel then did a vertical maneuver on the open face of the wave for a solid score of 7.17, immediately taking the lead from rookie Frederico Morais. He secured his lead with another ride where he was able to make a full aerial rotation with a perfect landing to earn him a decent 6.50.

Here’s a replay of the Round 1 Heat 6:

CT rookie Ian Gouveia took down current World No. 1 Owen Wright and Connor O’Leary in Heat 7. Gouveia, who already had the lead in the early minutes, patched up his backup score with an excellent 8.00 barrel ride. Gouveia got deep into the barrel and got a quick second small barrel to earn a score that was enough for him to win the heat. O’Leary tried to fight back in the dying minutes of the heat but his 6.33 ride was a little short for him to snatch the lead.

Caio Ibelli was matched up with Joel Parkinson and Jadson Andre in Heat 8. While Parkinson had the lead with less than 2 mintues left, Ibelli had yet to find his second wave. Needing only 2.37 to win, Ibelli found a 2.83 with a combination of turns and a short barrel ride that he got wiped out with. And with that, he snatched the win from Parkinson.

Jeremy Flores also put on a great performance in Heat 9 against Adriano De Souza and Adrian Buchan. With less than 12 minutes left in the heat, Flores who was placed last had to find a good score to be able to catch up. He pulled into a deep barrel and came out flying out with style and earned one of the few excellent single wave scores of the round.

Here’s a replay of the Heat 9 action:

Michel Bourez took Heat 10 by putting pressure on his opponents Joan Duru and Conner Coffin. He got into a good barrel and finished it with a good turn, earning him a 6.83. Bourez kept patching up his backup score until he found another 3.57 with a quick barrel ride leaving Joan in need of a 7.40 and Conner with a 9.07.

Julian Wilson who is used to getting high scores in Western Australia didn’t find that much with tricky afternoon conditions in Heat 11 of the first round. But he scored just enough to win with a total of 4.90, while fellow Aussie opponents didn’t manage to find anything. Bede Durbidge finished with a 3.33 heat total while Josh Kerr, who was celebrating his birthday, unfortunately ended the heat with 0.00 after not being able to find any good wave to ride.

There’s a reason why the quote “save the best for last” became so popular. Sebastian Zeitz showed everyone that this was true when he stole the show for Round 1. When Filipe Toledo, Ethan Ewing and Sebastian Zietz failed to catch a wave after 15 minutes, there had to be a restart.

With the restart, conditions got better especially for Zeitz. Sebastian dug into the longest barrel of the day. He drove through multiple sections and surprised all the commentators and fans when he found the exit. It was a no-brainer for the judges to give him a perfect 10.00, and with that he earned the highest single wave score and the highest total of the event so far; showing everyone why he won last year.

Here is a replay of Sebastian Zeitz getting his perfect barrel:

With an action packed Day 1 in the books, there is a lot of excitement as we head forward to the second round. Who will come out victorious in the second round battle? Share your thoughts below!

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