MARGARET RIVER, Australia — The world’s best emerging surfers had to call on all their ocean skills at Margaret River yesterday with solid 2-meter plus swells (6 to 8 feet) and 30 knot onshore winds creating some of the most difficult and testing surf conditions ever for a World Qualifying Series event.
Australian young gun Adam Melling was the day’s standout, tackling the biggest sets with his renowned aggression and on his opening ride of heat today scored an outstanding 9.33 ride. Melling‘s high-scoring ride was one of the first right-breaking set waves to be surfed today and a series of large top to bottom turns on the 2m-plus wave face was well rewarded by the judges.
Going right at Margaret River is always fraught with danger as the wave breaks over shallow reef and Melling spent the best part of 10 minutes dealing with set waves pounding him and holding him on the inside.
Despite his predicament, Melling held the lead throughout the heat and when he eventually did get himself back out into the take-off zone he quickly found his second required good-scoring ride, notched up a solid 6 point score to comprehensively take the heat win defeating Jock Barnes with Bobby Morris and Tevita Gukilau finishing 3rd and 4th respectively and being eliminated.
Other surfers to impress included Hawai‘i’s Jason Shibata, Marcus Hickman and Evan Valiere who are all familiar with large waves and outer reefs.
Shea Lopez continues his attempted comeback to professional surfing with a very strong opening round heat win. Lopez is a former Foster’s World Tour surfer who has been sidelined from the sport for two years recovering from a serious knee injury. He scored an easy heat win today defeating Hawaiian Hank Gaskell.
Local surfer Tom Innes also performed well yesterday. Innes was a finalist here last year finishing in fourth place. He scored an excellent 8.83 ride yesterday, the second highest wave score of the event so far and his local knowledge of the break is certain to again make him hard to beat in all conditions. Today, Innes will face Fabio Gouveia, Adrian Buchan and Kaua‘i’s Valiere.
The outlook in the coming days indicates the worst of the stormy weather will pass and with moderating winds tending offshore, surf conditions should be excellent.