Kelly Slater was forced to scramble to avoid first-round elimination at the Gold Coast Pro while Julian Wilson impressed on his return and Steph Gilmore was narrowly denied a perfect 10.
Eleven-time world champion Slater’s laid-back appearance at the second-tier Challenger Series event ensured the beach was packed on Sunday during the Snapper Rocks point break no longer part of the World Surf League’s top tour .
The American started with an eight-point run at his ‘second home’ but, without a second wave of goals until the final minutes, was made to sweat before a 4.93-point effort took him from fourth to second and earn a place in the round of 16.
“Literally two waves…one good, one pretty average. I worked on the first one so didn’t dig a hole for myself, but it got a little desperate there,” he said. -he declares.
Earlier, Wilson, who retired from the circuit after the Olympics last year, came back with a total of 13.63 in two heats to win in another heat of competition.
“Very well…fingers crossed it was like that,” Wilson, who also competed at an event in Newcastle in March, said of the conditions.
“Delighted to win my first round in a while. I will really enjoy this event, I will also enjoy going to Manly and taking the year as it comes and enjoying the benefits of the decision (to leave the top tour ) that I took.”
Tyler Wright (16.43) and Molly Picklum (16.77) both topped their sets later in the day but were eclipsed in the final game by home favorite Gilmore.
The seven-time world champion held onto two long barrels to couple nine and 9.77 points, Gilmore narrowly missing a daring aerial takedown on her second wave that would have delivered a perfect 10.
The new Challenger Series event has added significance after last week’s mid-season cut, with stars such as Owen Wright, Sally Fitzgibbons and Morgan Cibilic and Connor O’Leary forced back to their places after falling under the line .
Wright, Cibilic and O’Leary all got off to good starts in their requalifying efforts, winning their first-round heats on Saturday, while Fitzgibbons’ total of 12.56 on Sunday was enough for the second in his heat to progress as well.
Australian Associated Press