Slater sails through at Margaret River
Kelly Slater turned on the style as he breezed through his first heat at the Telstra Drug Aware Pro 2012.
The 11-times world champion wowed the crowds at Margaret River, Western Australia, finishing off with a carving 360-degree re-entry on a 5'9" 'five-fin' wave.
"It is really great here," Slater said of his return to Surfer's Point. "Last year we had an awesome time, the waves were not great but we relaxed and went and saw the wineries and ate some beautiful food.
"But this year is different. The swell forecast is great and I am looking to do a lot of free surfing and hopefully get through the comp to Friday when the waves look like being spot on."
Slater is joined in the round of 48 by several past winners at Margret River.
Local favourite and former winner Taj Burrow snuck through right at the end of his heat, scoring 4.63 with a late right-hander when he needed 4.53 to progress.
Josh Kerr, champion in 2010, went out with Mark Occhilupo, who won the inaugural event in 1985 before regaining the title 20 years later. Both men progressed to the next stage.
Defending champion Damien Hobgood and 2008 winner Tom Whitaker also both qualified, as did top seeds Owen Wright, Adrian Buchan and Bede Durbidge.
ROUND OF 96 RESULTS:
HEAT 1: Owen Wright (AUS) 16.16, Joan Duru (FRA) 11.43, Jerome Forrest (AUS) 9.66, Alain Riou (PYF) 6.24
HEAT 2: Jay Quinn (NZL) 11.43, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.16, Perth Standlick (AUS) 9.44, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 9.10
HEAT 3: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 15.00, Messias Felix (BRA) 8.70, Alex Ribeiro (BRA) 7.57, Brett Simpson (USA) 5.73
HEAT 4: Adrian Buchan (AUS) 12.57, Gabe Kling (USA) 12.60, Jay Thompson (AUS) 11.30, Masatoshi Ohno (JPN) 8.10
HEAT 5: Damien Hobgood (USA) 14.53, Billy Stairmand (NZL) 12.27, Royden Bryson (ZAF) 9.90, Thomas Woods (AUS) 5.76
HEAT 6: Blake Thornton (AUS) 13.50, Hizunome Bettero (BRA) 12.00, Matt Wilkinson (AUS) 10.84, Flavio Nakagima (BRA) 7.56
HEAT 7: Dion Atkinson (AUS) 12.40, Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.17, Charlie Brown (BRA) 8.43, Vincent Duvignac (FRA) 7.43
HEAT 8: Josh Kerr (AUS) 15.00, Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 14.27, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) 9.57, Kai Barger (HAW) 8.67
HEAT 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) 14.50, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 9.94, Hodei Collazo (EUK) 8.27, Yujiro Tsuji (JPN) 5.40
HEAT 10: Raoni Monteiro (BRA) 13.97, Mitch Crews (AUS) 13.67, Luke Davis (USA) 13.07, Andre Silva (BRA) 11.83
HEAT 11: Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 10.70, Olamana Eleogram (HAW) 9.96, Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 8.34, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 7.84
HEAT 12: Kelly Slater (USA) 16.60, Tom Innes (AUS) 10.50, Mitchel Coleborn (AUS) 5.93, Marc Lacomare (FRA) 4.97
HEAT 13: Heath Joske (AUS) 10.20, Taj Burrow (AUS) 8.23, Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 7.50, Luke Campbell (AUS) 4.27
HEAT 14: Willian Cardoso (BRA) 12.70, Charles Martin (GLP) 11.34, Thiago Camarao (BRA) 10.84, Tim Reyes (USA) 1.94
HEAT 15: Brent Dorrington (AUS) 13.46, Adam Melling (AUS) 12.67, Halley Batista (BRA) 10.66, Cory Lopez (USA) 9.87
HEAT 16: Kieren Perrow (AUS) 14.33, Granger Larsen (HAW) 13.33, Stu Kennedy (AUS) 10.74, Matt Banting (AUS) 9.83
HEAT 17: John John Florence (HAW) 16.13, Lincoln Taylor (AUS) 9.90, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 6.92, Dean Bowen (AUS) 4.10
HEAT 18: Jack Freestone (AUS) 13.03, CJ Hobgood (USA) 12.93, Nat Young (USA) 11.10, Kiron Jabour (HAW) 9.03
HEAT 19: Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 12.33, Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY) 11.97, Travis Logie (ZAF) 11.43, Daniel Ross (AUS) 9.44
HEAT 20: Tomas Hermes (BRA) 6.70, Nic Muscroft (AUS) 6.50, Luke Cheadle (AUS) 6.20, Heitor Alves (BRA) 1.77