Professional World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) surfing resumed today with the opening day of the 2021 Great Lakes Pro pres. by Surfers Rescue 24/7 kicking off in tricky four-foot conditions at Boomerang Beach.
Some of Australia’s most promising female shone as across the course of the day, as they fought to earn their way into tomorrow’s third round.
Piper Harrison (Coolangatta, Qld) claimed the first major upset of the event thus far, eliminating 2020 Great Lakes Pro Qs champion, Sarah Baum (ZAF) from the competition. Harrison found a handful of diamonds in the rough over the duration of her heat, nailing a mix of carves and snaps to finish with a respectable 11.83 two-wave heat total and eliminate the former champion from the competition.
“The heat was definitely challenging, but there are waves out there and I think all us girls have surfed waves in more difficult conditions than that, so to come away with a win feels awesome,” said Harrison. “I was definitely nervous after not competing for some time, but I’d been doing some heat training with Surfing Australia and that’s helped prepare me for this run of events.”
After spending the majority of 2020 out of the water due to injury, northern beaches native Alysse Cooper (Manly, NSW) showed she hadn’t lost any of her flair as she used her powerful backhand attack to claim a victory in her opening heat. The lightweight goofy-footer hammered a variety of decent backhand hits in the heat to finish with an 11.80 two-wave heat total.
“I don’t think I had too much of a gameplan out there, but I just thought it would be best to get one quick one and give myself enough time to either run around or paddle back out and get one more as you could get lost in the lineup pretty easily,” said Cooper. “Coming off an injury, my whole goal was just to get my feet back in the wax and feel what it’s like to compete again and if I get through a few heats then that’s a bonus.”
2020 NSW Junior Champion Rosie Smart (Sawtell, NSW) showed why she was the reigning state champion nailing the highest wave score of the day, an excellent 8.00 for a series of critical backhand turns. However, the heat nearly finished with just the one score for Smart as she was caught inside by a flurry of bomb sets that made paddling out nearly impossible. Smart’s luck swung back around in the dying moments of the heat as she found a 4.33 wave score that propelled her into the first position and win the heat.
“I was super lucky to get that wave as it was really hard to find waves like that out there,” said Smart. “I got stuck in the inside after that wave and it made it really hard to get back out. Fortunately, I got a bit of a break and I was able to scratch back into the lineup and get a back-up score.”
The elite four-day World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event is the first 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.
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