Freestone, Kerr out of Quiksilver Pro
MICK Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore have safely progressed through the opening heats of the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro in a week of mixed results for Tweed surfers.
Fanning and Gilmore were awaiting their next heats after both secured thrilling round one wins, while fellow Tweed hopes Jack Freestone and Josh Kerr crashed out of the competition in round two.
In heat seven on Thursday, a heavyweight match-up between three-time World Surf League champion Fanning, 11-time WSL champion Kelly Slater (US), and Championship Tour veteran Jeremy Flores (France) didn't disappoint.
Local knowledge paid off for Fanning, who was able to catch a wave in the dying seconds of the heat to earn a 7.14, defeating Flores by only 0.14.
"I was sitting out there with priority for a while, but it's so hard in these conditions because sometimes priority's a curse,” Fanning said after the heat.
"It's a confidence booster that I could keep my cool there at the end, and that's how I want to go the whole year. I don't want to worry about the consequences, but want to just keep going.”
Earlier in the day, six-time WSL champion and five-time Roxy Pro winner Gilmore set the platform with some last-minute heroics of her own to steal a win from Lakey Peterson (US) and Malia Manuel (Hawaii).
In the sixth and last heat of the round, Gilmore's last-ditch ride on a wave that had previously closed out scored her a 6.57, which was enough to secure a combined 14.24 ahead of Peterson (13.33) and Manuel (7.50).
"This event is so important for a good start to the year,” Gilmore said.
"A lot of people that win here go on to win the title, so a good start is super important. This is my home break and I'd like to do well here.”
Freestone and Kerr weren't so fortunate and will now look to bounce back in the Margaret River Pro, which gets under way on Wednesday week.
In round two sudden-death heats on Friday, Freestone and Kerr lost out to Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz and Brazilian Ian Gouveia respectively.
Freestone said he wouldn't change too much heading into Margaret River after surfing a solid heat.
"Even though I lost, I felt really fine. It's probably just catching more waves and giving myself more opportunity,” he said.
"It's hard against (Zietz), he's that good he'll turn a six into an eight, and he did.”
Like Fanning, Freestone felt wave priority played a big part in the heat.
"It all switched when I got priority. When waves are good, you're waiting for something that doesn't come,” he said.
"It was just one of those heats, but yeah, I think it all came down to the priority.”
Gilmore was due to face three-time world champion Carissa Moore and Australian Bronte Macaulay in round three on Friday afternoon, while Parkinson was awaiting a Round three clash with Brazilian Miguel Pupo.