Chasing a fourth world surfing title, Mick Fanning is among six Australians to advance directly to the third round in the Hurley Pro at Trestles, California.
Fanning, currently second in the standings, blew away Japan’s Hiroto Ohhara and fellow Australian Adam Melling by scoring 17.30 in their three-man first round contest at the world championship tour event.
He joined Owen Wright, Taj Burrow, Adrian Buchan, Julian Wilson and Kai Otton who also won and went into the third round.
“I’ve been preparing here since Friday and it’s been really fun but it also tests your overall fitness,” Fanning said.
“It’s an incredibly high-performance wave so you really feel your arms and legs burning.”
World rankings leader Adriano De Souza also went straight into the third round along with Kelly Slater, Jeremy Flores, Kolohe Andino and Italo Ferreira.
“Trestles is extremely important for me, and I did my best to prepare myself for the challenge,” De Souza said.
“I’m happy to win my first heat but its only the first step.”
Reigning world champion Gabriel Medina faces a sudden-death second round heat after he was overshadowed by a perfect 10 from Haiwaiian veteran Freddy Patacchia, who announced his immediate retirement from the tour following the performance.
Patacchia will be replaced in the tournament by a tour wildcard.
In the women’s event, Australian Sally Fitzgibbons narrowly edged Coco Ho and Sage Erickson thanks to an 8.27 on her second wave to take out her opening round heat.
“It’s shaping up to be a really exciting title race with quite a few of us in contention,” Fitzgibbons said.
“Having been on tour for a number of years now I’m really enjoying those battles and they really get me inspired to perform at my best.”
Fellow Australians Dimity Stoyle and Nikki Van Dijk will face elimination in the second round after finishing second in their heats, while Tyler Wright and Laura Enever are in the final heat of the round which will be completed on the second day of competition.
Tour leading lights Carissa Moore (18.36), Courtney Conlogue (17.34) and Lakey Peterson (17.20) cruised into the third round, all with scores above nine for their second waves.