The big news during Round 2 of the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, besides Owen Wright’s incredible showing in Heat 6, was the elimination of two of Brazil’s brightest stars, Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo.
The ratings lead was good while it lasted. Filipe Toledo, gutted.
The reigning world champ and the ratings leader coming into the event were both second best in their match-ups with Jay Davies (AUS) and Ricardo Christie (NZL) respectively. They may be near untouchable in smaller beachbreaks, but the grinding slab barrels on offer at The Box proved a tricky proposition for the high-flying rippers.
Once again WSL commissioner Kieren Perrow decided that heats would kick-off at The Box, with the morning high tide and light winds favourable for the notorious slab. And up first in Heat 1 was Gabriel Medina, currently in tenth on the ratings and looking for a good result to breathe life into his title defence, up against local wildcard Jay Davies.
Jay Davies eliminated Gabriel Medina in Heat 1.
When surfing a tricky wave like The Box, being a local is a definite advantage, and the Western Australian took off deeper and picked off the better waves during the showdown. Gabriel did find a good tube halfway through the heat to peg back Jay’s early lead, but the wildcard stroked into a beast a few minutes later and stood tall through its bowels for a score of 8.50. Gabriel had no answer for that and will be looking ahead to the Rio Pro in his homeland for the result to jump-start his title defence.
Filipe’s tussle with Ricardo Christie was a lot tighter, with just 0.19pts separating the pair by heat’s end. Filipe started stronger than the New Zealander, but the Kiwi caught a bomb with eighteen minutes remaining to score a 7.83 and grab the lead. Ricardo backed-up his high score with a 5.43 and held on for victory despite a last gasp effort from Filipe. With 20 seconds remaining, Filipe swung into a smaller wave and tucked in for some tube time. Unfortunately for the ratings leader, it was too little too late and he fell short of the required score. With Mick Fanning already through to Round 3, Filipe will have to hand in his yellow jersey.
Owen Wright, he’s the man. Perfect 10 in Round 2.
Owen Wright was the man of the hour though. The Australian pig-dogged two of the craziest barrels the tour is likely to see this year outside of Teahupo’o, scoring a Perfect 10 for one and an 8.50 for the other. It was a two shot salvo that Dusty Payne (HAW) had no answer for.
The tide dropped dangerously low for The Box following that, and the next three heats were defined by low scores as contestants battled to find the ones that didn’t shut down. Kieren Perrow then chose to move the last three heats of the Round to Margaret River’s main peak, where there were some big, lumpy peaks on offer. Italo Ferreira and Jadson Andre restored some pride for the Brazilians by winning their heats and advancing to Round 3, while Kai Otten (AUS) beat fellow countryman, Matt Wilkinson, to book his spot in the next Round.
The main peak was a different sort of challenge. Kai Otten, through to Round 3.