Gilmore back on track as Slater confirms exit
SIX-TIME world surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore has put her defence of the Roxy Pro back on track after being sent into a sudden-death round by teenager Macy Callaghan.
Gilmore surfed her way into round three at the World Tour event at Snapper Rocks by defeating South African Bianca Buitendag in the third heat of the elimination second round at the Gold Coast event on Monday.
A composed Gilmore made the most of her local knowledge to beat her rival 15.17 to 10.40.
Gilmore was sent into sudden-death by Callaghan, the 17-year-old from the NSW Central Coast, who only learned she was in the event as an injury replacement for American Courtney Conlogue a week ago.
Gilmore is the most decorated surfer at the Roxy Pro, which she rates her favourite event of the year.
The Australian champion won her sixth Roxy Pro crown last year before finishing a close second to Tyler Wright in the race for the world crown.
Earlier on Monday, teenage star Caroline Marks recorded her first championship tour heat win when she knocked fellow American Sage Erickson from the Roxy Pro.
The 16-year-old American rookie is being hailed as the most talented teenage surfer since world champion Tyler Wright.
"A couple of years ago I would probably have been a little star struck," Marks said of facing the best female surfers in the world.
"They are still my idols but I want to beat them."
Malia Manuel has also advanced after beating fellow American Tatiana Weston-Webb in her round two battle.
Meanwhile, 11-time men's world champion Kelly Slater has taken to social media to confirm he will not surf the opening leg of the world tour due to a leg injury.
"For many months, my gut feeling has been to use this injury as a platform to overhaul and reset my mind and body," he wrote on Instagram.
"The looming excitement about a new year starting, my foot sort of magically allowing me to surf the past couple of days, and a number of other factors had me talking myself back into jumping in as soon as possible against my better judgment.
"I feel I've had a couple of half hearted attempts these past couple of years fighting injury and desire.
"The foot injury symbolises a lot at this point in my career both as an ending and as a beginning.
"Hearing @mfanno talk about his reasons for retiring at the upcoming Bells event yesterday rang true for me also around going in the direction of doing things that make you uncomfortable.
"Competing is a natural environment for us both and it's the easy route for me. I think it best that I properly rehabilitate the injury and choose to surf wholeheartedly, not from the excitement or stress of a last minute arrival. It's not very professional or responsible and it won't allow me to be at my best potential."