Matt Banting (Port Macquarie, NSW) and Sarah Baum (ZAF) have taken out the 2020 Vissla Central Coast Pro and Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 rated events at Avoca Beach in an action-packed finals day that saw massive scores and exciting surfing.
After a runner-up finish at the 2019 Vissla Central Coast Pro, Matt Banting went one step further in 2020, taking out the top spot. Banting put on an impeccable performance over the course of the entire event, consistently posting massive scores in the majority of the heats he surfed. Banting’s performance in the final saw the Port Macquarie natural-footer post a decent 15.27 two-wave heat total to get the edge over Sheldon Simkus (Gold Coast, Qld). The win was a total turnaround from the beginning of the week for Banting as he was nearly forced to withdraw from the event due to car troubles. Banting will now head to Newcastle Surfest hoping to back up the result and put himself into a prime position to requalify for the WSL Championship Tour.
“Getting to the final last year was a great feeling but to go one step further feels even better,” said Banting. “At the beginning of the week I busted the radiator in my car and I wasn’t sure if I would even make my first heat in time and I thought I might need to pull out of the event, but everything from there fell into place after that. The 3000 points and the prize money will help me so much and takes a huge amount of pressure off. If I can back up this result with a decent result in some of the higher-ranked events then I’d be even more stoked.”
Sarah Baum’s (ZAF) stellar beginning to 2020 continued today as she took out top honours in the final against Cedar Leigh-Jones (Avalon, NSW). Baum used her deadly backhand attack to notch up a giant 15.60 two-wave heat total, which also included a near-perfect 9.00 wave score, which ultimately allowed her to gain some space between her and Leigh-Jones. In a year that has already seen her win the Carve Pro and post a runner-up finish at the recent Mothernest Great Lakes Pro, Baum will now head to her adopted hometown of Newcastle for the Doyle Partners Women’s Pro at Merewether.
“This is totally surreal,” said Baum. “These 3000 points and the prizemoney from this event will go such a long way to helping me to qualify. I’m so excited for the rest of the year now. The result hasn’t really sunk in yet, but I think it will in a few hours. I now have to head home to Newcastle and prepare for the QS5000 there, so hopefully, this bit of momentum will help me when that event begins.”
Sheldon Simkus (Gold Coast, Qld) put on a valiant performance over the course of the entire Vissla Central Coast Pro with the final being no exception. Simkus found a handful of decent waves that allowed to post some above-average scores but ultimately fell short of the 8.27 wave score required to jump ahead of Banting.
“That was a lot of fun and was a perfect warmup for the QS5000 and the Challenger Series events that are coming up. I think this may be my best result ever,” said Simkus. “At the beginning of the week, I was sick and hadn’t freesurfed to prepare at all. It was awesome to feel like I was just improving with every heat I had and improve throughout the contest.”
Cedar Leigh-Jones notched up her best result to date, taking out the runner-up position. After a stellar run through the quarter and semi-finals, Leigh-Jones was unable to find waves with enough scoring potential to gain the upper hand against Baum. At only 15-years-old, the young natural-footer will now look to move her focus to the Sydney Surf Pro Junior at Manly later in the week.
“I didn’t even think I was going to make it through to Friday in this competition, so I’m super stoked with this result,” said Leigh-Jones. “I came into this event just looking for a half-decent result but I didn’t quite expect this. Unfortunately, I didn’t any great waves in the final, but I’m still happy. This is definitely my biggest result to date.”
The elite six-day WSL QS 3000 rated event formed the third and final stop on the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series and took place at Avoca from February 25 – March 1, 2020.
2020 Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series Event Schedule
Event 1: Carve Pro QS1,000, Maroubra – January 29 – 1 Feb
Event 2: Mothernest Great Lakes Pro, Boomerang Beach – February 19 – 23
Event 3: Vissla Central Coast Pro, Avoca Beach – February 25 – March 1
The 2020 Vissla Central Coast Pro will be proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The event will also be proudly supported by Vissla, Sisstrevolution, Central Coast Council, Avoca Beach Hotel, Hit 101.3, Mad Mex, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Mothernest, AirAsia, WSL, and Surfing NSW.