The 2021 Mad Mex Maroubra Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event saw a gigantic day of surfing today with the top-seeds doing battle in fun two-to-three foot conditions.
Current WSL world number three, Sally Fitzgibbons donned a competitive rashie for the first time since the 2020 Maui Pro presented by ROXY at Pipeline and showed that her skills remained as sharp as ever as she demolished her way through the heat. Fitzgibbons found a handful of punchy righthand shorebreaks in the exchange, smashing some beautiful snaps and carves to finish the heat with a decent 12.35 two wave heat total. Fitzgibbons will now face Anne Dos Santos, Sage Goldsbury and Kirra-Belle Olsson in the first heat of the day tomorrow.
“I found it really exciting to be coming into this event,” said Fitzgibbons. “I think I put pressure on myself to implement the things I have worked on in my training and have put my attention on things that are down the track, like the Olympics, working on boards and things like that. But these 20-minute heats in smaller surf is the training I think I need to test myself and move forward. Hopefully I can keep making more heats tomorrow.”
Kirra-Belle Olsson showed that she’d be one to watch in later rounds and when she utilises her local wildcard at the upcoming Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro. Olsson opted to hunt down a series of playful lefthanders in the heat which were duly rewarded with a 12.00 two-wave heat total.
“I feel like I’ve been surfing well and a lot of my training is paying off,” said Olsson. “I’ve also found that staying busy is key in conditions like this as you could get lost out there pretty easily and miss certain opportunities. I’ve been really excited on competing lately and I honestly can’t wait to surf in my next heat.”
Fresh off a runner-up finish at the recent Port Stephens Pro, Philippa Anderson carried an added spring in her step as she tore through her first-round heat. Anderson found a handful of beautiful righthanders in the heat and proceeded to execute a barrage of critical snaps and carves to finish the heat with a 14.35 two-wave heat total.
“I watched a lot of heats before mine and I saw that the girls were getting six-point rides for a lot of righthanders and I got super excited to get out there,” said Anderson. “We’ve been really blessed with waves over the course of this QS leg and it’s been awesome to see all the girls and guys putting up good scores. Hopefully, this will just be the start and the swell will continue.”
After taking out the 2020 Australian Open of Surf series, Dylan Moffat has been unable to find the same form over the last two QS events. That being said, Moffat looked like he was back in excellent form as he took out his round of 32 heat. The Narrabeen native performed a variety of high-flying aerial antics in the heat to take the win ahead of his fancied opposition, Kalani Ball, Jarvis Earle and Lennix Smith who claimed second, third and fourth respectively.
“That was exciting,” said Moffat. “I was watching everyone catching waves and I just felt like I was in rhythm. I came here this morning expecting smaller, onshore conditions and we ended up getting fun and punchy righthanders, so maybe not having any expectations paid off for me in that heat.”
After winning the Port Stephens Pro earlier in the week, Jackson Baker showed he would still be the man to beat as he shone in his round of 32 heat. Using his trademark pink surfboard, the Novocastrian natural-footer showed that power surfing would always reign supreme as he hammered a series of hacks and snaps to take a heat victory and go one step further to claiming back-to-back victories.
“I hadn’t really ridden this board much since Port Stephens and the waves there were so cuppy but as the tide ran out here today the waves were doing the same thing as they did there,” said Baker. “That was the hardest 1000 heat I’ve ever had for sure, it could have been a heat in a Challenger Series for sure. When you have a heat against guys who are that good, you want to make sure you get a good start because you don’t want to be chasing people in a heat like that.”
Central Coast junior dynamo Joel Vaughan posted the highest heat total of the day, 15.25 following an innovative display of aerial manoeuvres and powerful snaps. Coming up against fancied opponents Kyuss King, Alister Reginato and Jaggar Bartholomew, Vaughan performed mammoth combinations to notch up the aforementioned score and earn his spot into the round of 16.
“The conditions dropped a touch as the afternoon moved on and the tide ran out but there were still some good sections if you could be patient,” said Vaughan. “I try not to focus too much on anyone else in the heat, I know they all surf amazing, but I just stick to my own plan and improve my own situation.”
The live broadcast of the Mad Mex Maroubra Pro will begin on Saturday, 27 February 2021 and be streamed live on Surfing NSW website and Facebook.
The elite three-day World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event will form the third of four stops on the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series and will take place in Maroubra from the 26 February – 28 February 2021.
The four-event series will see three QS1000 rated events (Maroubra, Great Lakes and Port Stephens) and one men’s and women’s QS3000 (Central Coast).
In 2020, the WSL revealed a new format for 2021, which included creating distinct seasons between the QS (the regionalised development tier), the Challenger Series (the global battleground for Championship Tour qualification) and the Championship Tour (the world’s best surfers competing for the World Title).
The new tour structure will provide a more streamlined and affordable career pathway for WSL athletes by allowing up-and-coming surfers to develop closer to home without financially overleveraging themselves. Athletes will compete on their regional QS tour in hopes of qualifying for the Challenger Series (CS), and ultimately the Championship Tour, which will reduce the economic pressure on surfers and their sponsors, as well as provide increased opportunities to celebrate local stars.
The QS will run from January through to July 2021 and determine who has qualified for the CS, which will run from August through to December 2021. Each region will have an allocation of surfers that can qualify for the CS through their regional tour. Athletes will be able to roll over points from 2020 QS events into the current season. Australia/Oceania will receive an allocation of ten men’s and eight women’s spots onto the Challenger Series based on the regional QS rankings.
All events will be webcast through worldsurfleague.com, surfingnsw.com.au and the WSL App.
For more information on these events head to worldsurfleague.com or check the free WSL App.
2021 Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series Event Schedule
Event 1: Great Lakes Pro, Boomerang Beach, Tuesday 16 – Friday 19 February 2021.
Event 2: Port Stephens Pro, Birubi Beach, Sunday 21 – Tuesday 23 February 2021.
Event 3: Mad Mex Maroubra Pro, Maroubra Beach, Friday 26 – Sunday 28 February 2021.
Event 4: Vissla Central Coast Pro, Avoca Beach, Tuesday 2 – Sunday 7 March 2021.
The 2021 Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series will be proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The series will also be proudly supported by Vissla, Randwick City Council, Central Coast Council, Mid Coast Council, Port Stephens Council, Mad Mex, Sisstrevolution, Middle Rock Holiday Park, Moby’s Beachside Retreat, Avoca Beach Hotel, WSL and Surfing NSW.
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