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Australian women face J-Bay sudden death

Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright and Isabella Nichols will have to battle through the elimination round after first-up defeats at the World Surf League’s Corona Open J-Bay in South Africa.

Competition got underway on Wednesday at the famed right-hand point break but the Australian women had little to celebrate.

Seven-time world champion Gilmore, who is Australia’s highest-ranked female in fourth spot, finished last in a tight three-surfer heat with Brisa Hennessy of Costa Rica the only one to advance directly to round two.

Isabella Nichols suffered the same fate with American Caroline Marks taking the honours in their heat.

Dual world champion Tyler Wright, who missed the past three events, through illness and then a visa bungle, was off the pace in the final heat won by Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb.

The Australian trio have at least avoided meeting each other in the sudden-death round with Gilmore taking on Courtney Conlogue, Nichols up against Hawaiian Gabriela Bryan and Wright meeting Lakey Peterson.

In the men’s event Jack Robinson continued his 2022 charge, which sees him currently second in the rankings behind Brazil’s Felipe Toledo.

Robinson posted a combined two-wave score of 15.17 to win his heat against local hope Luke Thompson and American Kolohe Andino.

Ethan Ewing, who sits fifth in the rankings, was also a first-round victor, consigning Hawaiian Barron Mamiya and fellow Australian Jackson Baker to the elimination round.

Other opening round winners included South African Matthew McGillivray, Brazil’s Yago Dora and American Nat Young amid some shock results with big guns Griffin Colapinto, Italo Ferreira and rankings leader Filipe Toledo all forced into sudden-death.

With just one event, in Teahupo`o, Tahiti remaining, only the top five surfers will advance to the Rip Curl WSL Finals at Lower Trestles in California in September.

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