MEREWETHER, Newcastle, NSW/Australia (TUESDAY, February 19, 2013): Reigning five time ASP World Champion Stephanie Gilmore re-entered the competitive arena today at the 6-Star Hunter Ports Women’s Classic and found a way to take the heat win against the odds, with just minutes remaining in her see-sawing heat.
Gilmore was in fourth place requiring a 6.43 ride to advance with just on three minutes remaining and with inconsistent waves and all four surfers bunched together in the line-up the task looked extremely tough.
Gilmore called on her championship qualities when she found a late wave that allowed her to unleash a series of well-connected turns which resulted in the day’s second highest scoring ride of an 8.77 elevating her from 4th to 1st.
“It was tough out there to find waves, the girls had me up against the ropes right ’till the end but fortunately I found a good wave and got the score” said Gilmore.
“I find it difficult surfing in heats with four in the water and without priority. My opponents in that heat were extremely hungry for waves, it’s not easy especially in smaller conditions like today but I’m through and it’s good.”
Sally Fitzgibbons, the number two seed at this event had few problems dealing with her opponents posting two excellent 8 point plus rides to easily win through.
“That was a fun heat for me, when you find the right wave there’s some fun sections that connect to allow for excellent scores” said Fitzgibbons.
Bethany Hamilton (Haw) struggled in today’s shifting peaky 3 feet (1metre) surf and was eliminated by Pauline Ado (Fra) and Felicity Palmateer (Aus).
The top two ranked ASP World Junior surfers, Nikki Van Dijk (Aus) and Bianca Buitendag (Zaf) put on an impressive display when they clashed in their heat today, going wave-for-wave in a high scoring duel that saw both surfers advance with Buitendag taking a narrow heat win after she posted the day’s single highest wave score of the day of 9.33.
Three other emerging young surfers who stood-out and advanced today were Hawaiian Tatiana Western-Webb, Alize Arnaud (Fra) and Australian pair Ellie-Jean Coffey and Keely Andrew.
Also making an appearance at the event site today was current ASP World Champion and number one seed in the Burton Toyota Pro, Joel Parkinson.
Parkinson attended the events official press conference with fellow Australian ASP World Champions Stephanie Gilmore and Jack Freestone, the ASP Junior Men’s World Champion.
“I really love coming to Newcastle and I’m excited to start competing again” said Parkinson.
“It looks like the swell will pick up considerably in the coming days and that’s always good. I like surfing larger waves for sure and I’m ready for it.”
With larger swells and possible adverse weather forecast toward the end of the week slight rescheduling of the event is being implemented and Parkinson is expected to now surf his opening heat around 11:30am tomorrow while Stephanie Gilmore is expected to surf earlier in the day.
Earlier in the day Heath Joske (Aus) put on a dominating display when the final six heats of Round 1 of the Burton Toyota Pro were surfed. Joske scored an impressive 16.77 (out of a possible 20) in his win and the other high scoring heat winner was Cory Arrimbide (USA) with a total of 16.50.
Burton Toyota Pro Round of 144
Heat 19: Taylor Clark (USA) 11.67, Kiron Jabour (Haw) 9.5, Saxon Lumsden (Aus) 9.47, Asher Wales (7.97)
Heat 20: Cory Arrambide (USA) 16.5, Dillon Perillo (13.9), Jake Sylvester (Aus) 11.36, Brent Dorrington (Aus) 8.87
Heat 21: Chris Friend (AUS) 14.27, Michael February (Zaf) 12.80, Ian Gentil (Haw) 10.87, Dane Bird (Aus) 9.33
Heat 22: Heath Joske (Aus) 16.77, Dylan Goodale (Haw) 14.20, Chris Salisbury (Aus) 14, Kaito Ohashi (Jpn) 8.93
Heat 23: Manuel Selman (Chl) 12.27, Nick Squires (Aus), Dean Bowen (Aus) 5.7, Tanner Hendrickson 4.87
Heat 24: Mitchell James (Aus) 12.96, Darren O’Rafferty (Aus) 12.77, Arashi Kato (Jpn) 11.33, Chase Wilson (USA) 8.77
Hunter Ports Women’s Classic of 48
Heat 1: Tatiana Weston-Webb (Haw) 15.16, Cannelle Bulard (REU) 11.67, Sarah Baum (ZAF) 10.36, Paige Hareb (NZ) 6.9
Heat 2: Nage Melamed (Haw) 15.00, Sage Erickson (USA) 12.83, Dominic Barona (Ecu) 10.96, Nao Omura (Jpn) 8.37
Heat 3: Alize Arnaud (Fra) 16.67, Sofia Mulanovich (PER) 12, Eden Putland (AUS) 9.13, Sarah Phelan (AUS) 2.1
Heat 4: Stephanie Gilmore (Aus) 14.60, Dimity Stoyle (Aus) 13.07, Naomi Stevic (Aus) 12.24, Kirby Wright (Aus) 11.97
Heat 5: Joanne Defay (Fra) 13, Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.26, Laura Macaulay (Aus) 8.33, Quincy Davis (USA) 7.4
Heat 6: Pauline Ado (Fra) 13.33, Felicity Palmateer (Aus) 11.66, Freya Prumm (Aus) 9.73, Bethany Hamilton (Haw) 5.5
Heat 7: Ellie-Jean Coffey (Aus) 13.83, Keely Andrew (Aus) 12.60, Justine Dupont (Fra) 12.07, Rebecca Woods (Aus) 11.30
Heat 8: Alessa Quizon (Haw) 15, Courtney Conlogue (USA) 13.93, Codie Klein (13.06), Leila Hurst (Haw) 11.47
Heat 9: Sally Fitzgibbons (Aus) 16.50, Bronte Macaulay (Aus) 14.87, Anali Gomez (Per) 11.93, Maud Le Car (Fra) 11.63
Heat 10: Stephanie Single (Aus) 13.07, Philippa Anderson (Aus) 13.00, Alana Blanchard (Haw) 10.57, Brodie Doyle (Aus) 8.57
Heat 11: Bianca Buitendag (Zaf), Nikki Van Dijk (Aus) 15.26,Mikaela Greene (Aus) 12.74, Rosanne Hodge (ZAF) 12.03
Heat 12: Laura Enever (Aus) 13.17, Brittani Nicholl (Aus) 12.64, Georgia Fish (Aus) 6.5, Joanne Dennison (GBR) 4.70
The event will be Live Webcast at: http://surfest.prosurfinglive.com
About the 2013 Surfest Newcastle Australia
The 2013 Surfest Newcastle Australia features the Burton Toyota Pro (Men’s ASP 6-Star) and the Hunter Ports Women’s Classic (Women’s ASP 6-Star), along with eight supporting events. The event is made possible with the support of Burton Toyota, the Hunter Sports Sports Group, Newcastle City Council and the NSW Government through Destination NSW. Surfest Newcastle Australia is conducted over 12 days from February 13-24 at Merewether beach, a recognised Australian National Surfing Reserve. Merewether is home to festival patron and Australia’s most accomplished men’s world professional surfing champion, four-time world champion Mark Richards (1979-82) and presents the winner a trophy in his likeness. 2013 marks the festival’s 28th year and with over 800 national and international competitors, Surfest Newcastle Australia is the largest festival of surfing in the southern hemisphere. Get up-to-the minute updates, photos and interviews, as well as the program of events at surfest.com <http://surfest.com> ; follow us on Facebook <https://www.facebook.com/surfestnewcastle> or Twitter <https://twitter.com/surfest> and download the BOXT app from the App Store or Google Play (four digit code SURF).