|“Steph (Gilmore) has been so inspirational to me since day one,” Ho said. “She encourages me, she pushes me and is just the best thing for me. It was really cool yesterday at the Rising Tides – WSL Girls Program, watching all of the little girls admiring her because her generation admires her, I admire her that much, so there is a lot of really special things to be said about her. I really enjoy it over here in Western Australia. We compare it a lot to places at home and we get strong winds like this, so I feel comfortable here and enjoy riding these bigger boards.”
Carissa Moore (HAW) scratched her way back from nearly being sent to the Elimination Round by delivering a clutch 14.43 (out of a possible 20) heat total to win her Seeding Round heat. Injury replacement Keely Andrew (AUS) and World No. 8 Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) had Moore on the ropes until the three-time WSL Champion unleashed a dominant showcase in the dying minutes. Andrew secured the second-place position, sending Van Dijk to Elimination Round 2.
“I think the most nerve-racking thing is not knowing if you’re going to be in rhythm with the ocean,” Moore said. “At the moment, that is the biggest thing I see myself needing to improve on from the first three events of the season so that was making me a little nervous. Once I got a decent wave I was really stoked. I love this wave and I love the vibes here in Western Australia.”
Reigning WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) has yet to advance further than fifth place at the Margaret River Pro. His best result came in the same year that he won his maiden World Title in 2014. In 2019, having been eliminated from the Corona Bali Protected in 17th, Medina hopes to post his best result yet at Margaret River and move up the rankings out of the 10th spot. Today he got his campaign off to a great start by taking down local wildcard Jacob Willcox (AUS) and rookie Deivid Silva (BRA) with the second highest single wave score of the opening day, an 8.33 to progress into the Round of 32.
“That was a tough heat because the waves got a little bit small and slow, so I’m glad to have made it through,” Medina said. “It felt good to get that big one and post an excellent score after Bali because my heats there were also slow, so I’m glad to make it. When I lost in Bali, I just came straight here. I’ve been trying my boards and getting used to the cold. We actually scored some good waves before the contest. I am feeling good. It feels good to be back.”