Australian surfers make hot start at J-Bay

Australian Julian Wilson has joined a list of surfing stars in the third round of the WSL J-Bay Open in South Africa.

STEPHANIE GILMORE of Australia looks on during the women's qualifying round of the World Surf League Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, California.
STEPHANIE GILMORE of Australia looks on during the women's qualifying round of the World Surf League Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, California. Picture: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Australia's best surfers all enjoyed a good opening day at the J-Bay Open in South Africa, with Julian Wilson, Stephanie Gilmore, and Sally Fitzgibbons all making it through to the third round.

Wilson easily topped his first-round heat, posting a two-wave score of 13.97 to eclipse Deivid Silva (10.6) and Jadson Andre (10.56).

The result sends Wilson and Silva straight into the third round, while Andre will have to negotiate an elimination second-round heat.

Other big names to progress straight into the third round of the men's competition were two-time world champion Gabriel Medina, current world No.2 Kolohe Andino, 11-time world champion Kelly Slater, Kanoa Igarashi, Owen Wright, Jordy Smith, Filipe Toledo, and Caio Ibelli.

Toledo is chasing a third straight J-Bay title.

World No.1 John John Florence will miss the J-Bay Open - and possibly the rest of the year - with a serious knee injury.

Wilson currently sits ninth in the world rankings, and needs a good result in South Africa to claw his way back into the title race.

In the women's competition, defending champion Gilmore topped her first-round heat to move straight into the third round.

Gilmore posted a two-wave score of 14.80 to beat Johanne Defay (12.57) and Macy Callaghan (8.40).

Compatriot and current world No.1 Fitzgibbons also avoided the dreaded elimination second round by finishing first in her three-person opening heat.

Fitzgibbons scored 12.60 to edge out fellow Australian Nikki Van Dijk (10.30) and Bianca Buitendag (9.83).


AAP