Matt Wilkinson has claimed the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast title
@Photos: Kerstin /WSL
Coolangata, Queensland/AUS (Wednesday, March 16, 2016) – Matt Wilkinson emerged victorious today, claiming the Quiksilver Gold Coast titles respectively, in clean three-to-four foot (1 metre) waves at Snapper Rocks.
The opening events on the 2016 Samsung Galaxy WSL Championship Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast pres. by BOQ showcased the world’s best surfing, massive upsets and a significant tone-setting for the season ahead.
Wilkinson’s victory today marked his maiden on the elite Championship Tour with the Australian putting on an exciting performance throughout the event, pushing scorelines and knocking out top-seeded opponents. The goofy-footer unleashed a variety of technical maneuvers to solidify his position atop the ranks of the Jeep Leaderboard. Wilkinson previously dispatched reigning World Champion Adriano De Souza (BRA) and last year’s event winner, Filipe Toledo (BRA).
Wilkinson faced Kolohe Andino (USA) in the Final and the frontside verse backside match-up did not disappoint. The two battled wave for wave, with multiple lead changes throughout. Wilkinson took an early lead with an 8.60 opening score and held off Andino until halfway through. Andino took the lead and stayed busy as the time ticked down, while Wilkinson waited for a wave. The Australian’s patience paid off with a 5.60 point ride at the six minute mark to regain the lead. With thirty seconds left on the clock Andino caught a wave to chase the 7.38 score needed, but Andino’s efforts were not enough. Wilkinson won the event 14.22 to 13.66.
“I started this year with a win in the Qualifying Series and to win this event felt amazing. I did not expect this but I was hoping for it,” said Wilkinson. “My heat against Adriano is the kind of heat where I usually lose. I just got the score right at the end and it gave me the fire to make me feel like the ocean was on my side. I surfed well with so much pressure on, and I knew I hadn’t gotten a great Snapper wave this whole event, and that first wave of the Final had two really nice sections at the start. I am so stoked to win.”
“I was hoping to make it in the top five or ten this year, and I have been at the back end of the teens for the last few years, so this is a different start,” continued Wilkinson. “I feel like I have matured a lot in my heat surfing and in my surfing in general. Hopefully I can put a lot of heats together this year and win the Title.”
“There are so many great surfers that went out early in this event or did not make the final, so I am stoked, but obviously I wanted to win that final really bad,” Andino said. “I guess it is like the first loser, so it is going to fire me up even more. I am excited for the rest of the year. Obviously, I’ve got big goals and big plans, but it’s a long year. I’m trying to stay even-keeled with my attitude in surfing.”
Filipe Toledo (BRA), defending Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Champ and favorite to win the event, was injured after trying to perform an air-reverse in the Semifinals. Toledo fought through his injury to score a 13.27, but Matt Wilkinson (AUS) came back with a 14.43 two-wave combined score, earning a 6.60 in his last wave to advance to the Finals.
“I went for the air on the last maneuver of the wave and when I was landing the wave just came up on my board and put the pressure on my leg, which went up and sideways,” Toledo said. “I kept surfing after that and it was painful. But now I am good. I am not dying at all, I am just feeling a lot of pain. Besides that, I am happy with my result. I was surfing good and the board was good.”
In a major upset, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) knocked out reigning World Champion, Adriano De Souza (BRA), in the Quarterfinal match-up. De Souza began the heat with a relaxed approach, where Wilkinson took an early lead, but De Souza snagged the lead right back from Wilkinson. Needing a strong second-wave score to defeat the World Champion, Wilkinson caught a buzzer-beater giving him a 0.43 edge to eliminate De Souza.
“He [Matt Wilkinson] has been surfing good with a nice rhythm as well,” De Souza said. “It was a tough heat. He got the score he needed right at the end. I’ll just keep fighting. It is another result where I’ll walk away thinking I can do better, I can improve. I’m definitely hunting for a good result at Bells.”
Stuart Kennedy (AUS) continued his streak of upsets as he eliminated John John Florence (HAW) from the competition with a buzzer-beater ride in the last heat of the Quarters. Kennedy, who gained entry into the event as an injury replacement, earned a 15.23 combined two-wave score to defeat Florence’s 14.00.
“I learned so much coming out of last year and I’m putting it all together this year and figuring out how it all fits together,” Florence said. “The Quarters isn’t a super bad result at all. I am confident going into the next events. I love Bells and Margaret. I am looking forward to doing some carves.”
Highlights from the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro Gold Coast will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.