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COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS - The world's best surfers are converging on Australia's Gold Coast for the opening stop of the 2016 WSL Championship Tour, to be held from March 10-21.
De Souza clinched an emotional maiden world title in the final event of the 2015 season, the Billabong Pipe Masters, and is the latest champion to emerge from the current "Brazilian Storm" group. In a sport that has traditionally been dominated by champions from Australia, South Africa, Hawaii and the Mainland USA, De Souza backed up compatriot Gabriel Medina's (BRA) historic 2014 WSL Title, stewarding a Brazilian contingent that now occupies 40% of the WSL Top 10.
The Brazilians will be challenged by the world's best surfers, inclusive of 11-time WSL champion Kelly Slater (USA), 2015 threats Julian Wilson (AUS) and Jeremy Flores (FRA), returning-from-injury Jordy Smith (ZAF), recent Eddie champion John John Florence (HAW) and a host of others.
Mick Fanning (AUS), three-time WSL Champion and 2015 WSL runner-up, last week announced that he would be taking a 'personal year' in 2016, surfing in select events while recharging after one of the most intense seasons in history. Fanning will be on hand at the opening stop of the season.
Moore's emphatic win in pumping surf at the final stop of the 2015 season, the Maui Pro at Honolua Bay, secured a third world title for the powerful Hawaiian. With her dynasty firmly established, the Hawaiian icon will look to further solidify in 2016. However, six-time WSL champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) will return from injury this season to challenge alongside compatriots Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Tyler Wright (AUS) as well as 2015 runner-up Courtney Conlogue (USA).
The opening stop of the tour since 1998, the Gold Coast is home to the world-renowned "Superbank," a man-made, sand-bottom pointbreak that offers righthand waves in excess of a mile long. The venue has already enjoyed one of the best cyclone seasons in history this year, and all are anticipating an electric start to the 2016 season.
Owen Wright (AUS), Bede Durbidge (AUS) and Alejo Muniz (BRA) have withdrawn from the opening event of the season due to ongoing injury rehabilitations. They have been replaced by Adam Melling (AUS), Stuart Kennedy (AUS) and Sebastian Zietz (HAW) respectively.
The Gold Coast will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the WSL app.
The event is also being carried by our LIVE broadcast partners Fox Sports Australia, CBS Sports in the United States, ESPN Brasil, Globosat, Edgesport, Sky NZ, Sport TV, Canal + Deportes, Channel Nine, MCS, Starhub, and Oceanic Time Warner Cable 250 & 1250 in Hawaii.
QUIKSILVER PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Keanu Asing (HAW), Ryan Callinan (AUS)
Heat 2: Julian Wilson (AUS), Michel Bourez (PYF), Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Stuart Kennedy (AUS)
Heat 4: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Sebastian Zietz (HAW)
Heat 5: Mick Fanning (AUS), Matt Banting (AUS), TBD
Heat 6: Adriano de Souza (BRA), Kolohe Andino (USA), TBD
Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Davey Cathels (AUS)
Heat 8: Kelly Slater (USA), Matt Wilkinson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA)
Heat 9: Nat Young (USA), Kai Otton (AUS), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
Heat 10: Josh Kerr (AUS), Taj Burrow (AUS), Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 11: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 12: Joel Parkinson (AUS), John John Florence (HAW), Jack Freestone (AUS)
ROXY PRO GOLD COAST ROUND 1 MATCH-UPS:
Heat 1: Tyler Wright (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Alessa Quizon (HAW)
Heat 2: Bianca Buitendag (ZAF), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Coco Ho (HAW)
Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Chelsea Tuach (BRB), TBD
Heat 4: Courtney Conlogue (USA), Sage Erickson (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
Heat 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS)
Heat 6: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS)
ABOUT THE WORLD SURF LEAGUE
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world's best surfing on the world's best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.
The WSL has been championing the world's best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Men's and Women's Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport's rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.
Showcasing the world's best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.
The WSL Trophy At 40: Behind The Glory.
Bodhi waits for his set.
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