NICE MOVES: Keely Andrew during the Roxy Pro at the Gold Coast.
NICE MOVES: Keely Andrew during the Roxy Pro at the Gold Coast. Ed Sloane

Andrew just enjoys what she does and is reaping the rewards

SURFING: Mooloolaba's Keely Andrew says a simple appreciation for the sport has helped her find her groove early in the world Championship Tour season.

The 23-year-old ripped through the Roxy Pro at the Gold Coast on Monday to earn a spot in the pointy end of the meet.

She showed plenty of promise, toppling six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore enroute to the semi-finals.

"I've just been enjoying it," she said of her surfing.

"I know you've got to work hard but (you've got to) just take a step back and appreciate what's in front of you and take every day for what it is," she told World Surf League.

"(I'm) just thankful to be on the tour for my third year.

"I'm enjoying every day."

Andrew finished her rookie season in 14th place and improved to 11th last season.

She was one place shy of automatically re-qualifying for this year's tour but claimed a spot on the big stage again, due to her results on the secondary circuit.

And now she's started her 2018 campaign in strong fashion.

Despite losing her non-elimination round one heat at Snapper Rocks, she beat last year's world number seven Nikki Van Dijk 15.33 to 9.50 in round two before winning a three-surfer round three heat.

She was staring down the barrel of an event exit but claimed a last-gasp wave to score 14.97, ahead of last year's world No. 3 Sally Fitzgibbons (14.16) and France's Johanne Defay (13.53).

"I knew what wave I was looking for, it was just a matter of whether it came through or not and I was sitting there just thinking 'just one more wave, just one more wave' and thankfully Huey delivered and I got one last chance," she said.

She then toppled a giant of the sport in Gilmore 11.87 to 10.83.

"It's pretty cool. It's a bit of a pinch me moment," she said.

Andrew was scheduled to collide with Fitzgibbons again in the semi-finals.

"I love surfing against Sally," she said.

"She really brings out the best in me and we're really good friends. But it's a different story out in the water."

Fellow Sunshine Coaster Julian Wilson is due to compete in the men's corresponding event on Tuesday.

Last year's world number three won his round one heat on Sunday to progress straight to round three.

He was yesterday named in the Australian team to contest the Founders' Cup of Surfing at the Surf Ranch facility in California in May.

The team, to be captained by Stephanie Gilmore, also includes Matt Wilkinson and Tyler Wright.

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