It’s been a huge day of action for day two of the Port Stephens Pro presented by Mad Mex with the top seeds hitting the water in super fun two-to-four foot waves at One Mile Beach, just north of the primary event site of Birubi Beach. The long right-hand walls saw the bar raised with huge heat totals being dropped in both the men’s and women’s divisions.
Victorian India Robinson put on a clinic in the grinding right-hand point waves, posting an excellent heat total of 17.60 (out of a possible 20) to progress into the round of 16. Growing up on the Surf Coast of Torquay, Robinson is no stranger to long right walls and it showed as she looks to set up one of her strongest results in a couple of years.
“When I knew we were going to compete here at this sandbank I was so excited,” Robinson said. “I’ve been watching it all week and knew with some swell it would be really fun and that’s exactly what it was. I had so much fun out there. I feel like I got a bit lucky because all of my waves hit the bank perfectly which allowed me to open up. I’m so happy to be back at an event and seeing all of my friends. It’s so good to all be back competing in events like this.”
Fresh off a runner-up finish at the recent Great Lakes Pro, North Narrabeen livewire Jordy Lawler continued to impress with another solid heat win, this time at the Port Stephens event. Lawler’s backhand finesse saw him light up the right-point of One Mile to pieces, progressing with a heat total of 15.65. Lawler has come into the 2021 season with a newfound appreciation for competing and doing what he loves after COVID forced the cancellation of events and travel in 2020.
“I’m just so stoked to be back doing this and competing,” Lawler said. “I never realised what it meant to me until it was taken away last year. It’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve come into this year with a newfound appreciation for competing and I really feel like it is reflecting in my results and scores. Today has been good, the waves are so fun out there and it looks like it will continue which will be good to keep the momentum going.”
New South Wales North Coast prodigy Zahli Kelly was in formidable form at One Mile Point, posting a near-perfect single wave score of 9.50 (out of a possible 10) for a series of searing frontside hacks. After a disappointing first-round loss at the last event, Kelly will be eyeing off a solid result as she heads into finals day at the Port Stephens Pro.
“It’s a really good bank out there so if you get the right one it definitely gives you plenty of opportunity to do turns,” Kelly said. “It’s always good to get fun waves at an event and I’m definitely looking forward to what tomorrow has on offer out here.”
Brazilian born and Gold Coast raised surfer Thomas Carvalho showed his deep nous of right-hand point breaks as he belted out some beautiful forehand snaps and carves to take out a stacked heat against local competitor Mike Clayton-Brown, Koda Killorn and Dylan Moffat. Carvalho made his intentions clear as he posted a massive 8.25 wave score that allowed him to gain the upper hand against his opposition and as a result progressed through the heat alongside the local surfer.
“It was just like Snapper out there if you got the right wave,” said Carvalho. “I was so excited to get out there and it’s epic to get this for a QS. I tried not to get too worried about drawing a local in the heat but you could tell he was all over it and knew he’d be tough to beat. I guess the main thing that got me edgy in the end was that I waited for a while to get my first wave.”
Manly native George Pittar’s sharp approach impressed the judges over the duration of his round of 64 and round of 32 heat. The fast natural-footer belted out an array of beautiful forehand turns to earn his spot into the round of 16.
“I’ve been wanting to get through a few QS heats for quite some time, but I’ve only had small moments where I’ve succeeded,” said Pittar. “I really think these long rights favoured my surfing and you could really push your turns. I hope this run of swell continues tomorrow.”
Other standouts on day two included Byron Bay’s Kyuss King who posted a near excellent 9.15 in his heat winning performance to beat youngster Marlon Harrison who also progressed with a solid heat total. After a disappointing result at Boomerang and a near-miss in his opening round heat, Liam O’Brien put on a commanding display to take out his round of 32 with a two-wave total of 15.50.
Current rankings leader Molly Picklum booked herself a spot on finals day along with fellow Central Coaster Kirra-Belle Olsson with both surfers enjoying the long walls of One Mile. Sunny Coasters Sahsa Baker and Sophie McCulloch also dominated their respective heats at One Mile.
Be sure to tune in tomorrow for finals day at the Port Stephens Pro presented by Mad Mex.
The elite three-day World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event was the second of four stops on the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series.
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 in 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 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.