Joel Parkinson looked relaxed, powerful and focused surfing his first official heat as the current ASP World Champion.
He had little trouble demolishing his opponents scoring big from the get-go when he opened with an 8-point-ride and backed it up later with a 9 and a combined heat total of 17 out of a possible 20 defeating Matt-Lewis Hewitt on 13.23 who also advanced after finishing in 2nd place in the four-man heat.
"As World Champion I guess I feel there's a target on my back, I'm the one to take down but once I was in the heat I felt good out there - It's good to get the jersey back on" said Parkinson.
"Toward the end of last year there was an incredible amount of pressure and now that's not there maybe I can be an even more dangerous opponent in the water
"I'm sensing good waves for the weekends finals so I really want to be there in the thick of the action - I don't want to watch it from the stands!"
Brazilian wunderkind Felipe Toledo was a revelation at the Burton Toyota Pro last year where he placed second and revealed some of the most innovative aerial surfing seen. He then went on in 2012 and fast-track qualified for the elite ASP World Championship Tour and the 17-year-old from Ubutuba put on another incredible aerial display to easily win through to the Round of 48.
Others to impress in the nine heats that were completed included Joan Duru (France) and Portugal's Tiago Pires while Jack Freestone, the two-time and current ASP World Junior Champion, was eliminated in the dieing seconds of his opening round heat, going down to Santiago Muniz (ARG) and local surfer Jesse Adam (AUS).
Heat 9, the final heat of the day was an exciting one to watch as Australians Matt Wilkinson and Matt Banting were battling for the same wave, bumped boards and exchanged words. The judges deemed that Wilkinson had the right of way and Banting was penalised with an interference. Then towards the end of the heat the two Brazilian surfers Ian Gouveia and Peterson Crisanto got tangled paddling for the same wave with Crisanto coming off second best earning an interference. Wilkinson and Gouveia both advanced into the Round of 48.
Burton Toyota Pro Round of 96
Heat 1: Joel Parkinson (Aus) 17, Matt Lewis Hewitt (NZ) 13.23, Wade Carmichael (Aus) 9.14, Steven Sawyer (Zaf) 8.77
Heat 2: Joan Duru (Fra) 16.77, Tomas Hermes (Bra) 15.8, Hiroto Ohhara (Jpn) 11.37, Beyrick De Vries (Zaf) 9.23
Heat 3: Tiago Pires (PRT) 16.17, Oney Anwar (IND)11.67, Michael Powell (USA) 10.17 Mark Occhilupo (Aus) 7.70
Heat 4: Felipe Toledo (Bra) 14.7, Bino Lopes (Bra) 12, Evan Geiselman (USA) 11.60, Billy Stairmand (NZ)
Heat 5: Kalani David (HAW) 15.7, Damien Hobgood (USA) 11.87, Nobuyuki Osawa (Jpn) 10.33, Jay Quinn (NZ) 11.87
Heat 6: Santiago Muniz (Arg), Jesse Adam (Aus), Jack Freestone (Aus), Tanner Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 7: Charles Martin (GLP) 14.34, Jeremy Johnston (USA) 13.34, Frederico Morais (PRT) 9.03, Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 8.07
Heat 8: Mark Lacomare (Fra) 14.33 , Maxime Huscenot (Fra) 13.77, Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.13, Caio Ibelli (Bra) 4.13
Heat 9: Matt Wilkinson (Aus) 17.40, Ian Gouveia (BRA) 14.20, Peterson Crisanto (BRA) 10.69, Matt Banting (AUS) 10.02