he 2021 Mad Mex Maroubra Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event got off to a flying start today with the first rounds of competition kicking off in clean two-foot conditions.
After some uncharacteristic early round losses at Great Lakes and Port Stephens, Margaret River’s Jacob Willcox appeared to turn the table as he tore his way through his opening heat at Maroubra. Willcox found a handful of playful and punchy lefthand shorebreaks in the heat to win with a series of respectable scores. Willcox will meet Tekehukehu Butler, Dakoda Walters and Josh Boyle in the next round.
“I feel like I’ve had such an average start to the year in these events and I entered them to get some more competitive practice, but it hasn’t really turned out the way I would have liked, but I guess losing heats is good practice as well,” said Willcox. “I feel like that last event in Port Stephens was one of the worst losses I’ve had since Portugal a few years ago, where I had a first round loss, but then the next event was a 10,000 rated comp and I made the semis. I think sometimes a loss is just what you need to reset and get a bit of a fresh start.”
South African born goofy-foot and reigning Maroubra Pro champion Sarah Baum sent a huge message to her opposition as she belted out an array of vicious turns in her opening heat. Baum unleashed a barrage of critical forehand snaps to be rewarded with an excellent 8.17 and cement her spot into the second round of competition.
“That left hander just opened up and presented such a beautiful wall,” said Baum. “I definitely felt good after that heat and I think that scoreline definitely gave me a lot of confidence going into the next round. I always feel good competing here at Maroubra and have had some good results here in the past, so I’m really excited to get into the next round.”
After receiving a series of injury wildcards into the higher seeded round of 64 at the Great Lakes Pro and the Port Stephens Pro, Kalani Ball began his Mad Mex Maroubra Pro campaign back in the first round. The Illawarra natural footer managed to build on the momentum that saw him notch up a semi-final finish at Port Stephens, nailing a beautiful array of snaps and carves to claim a heat victory with a two-wave heat total of 12.43.
“The waves are fun when they come, but it’s just a little bit slow,” said Ball. “Even though this is a different event and I’m starting in the first round, my game plan is still the same. All the guys who were in the heat are guys who are from around the same kinda area and I surf with them pretty often and I knew they all rip. Hopefully I can get a similar result to the one I got at Port Stephens.”
Maroubra local Koda Killorn flew the flag for the local surfing contingent, progressing through his opening heat. The powerful goofy-footer got the Maroubra locals on their feet over the course of the heat as he progressed through in the runner-up position behind Manly dynamo Axel Rose-Curotta.
“I was actually more nervous than any other event I’ve ever competed at,” said Killorn. “Having all my family and friends here was nerve-racking, but it’s sick having an event like this on my home beach and being able to run down from home and sleep in my own bed. I don’t think there’s too much of an advantage being local. Everyone is used to competing at beach breaks like this, so I don’t think I’ve got too much of a leg-up.”
Following the withdrawal of Laura Enever from the event, it was left to Tru Starling to fly the flag for the Narrabeen locals. The young natural-footer didn’t disappoint as she notched up a win in the onshore afternoon surf ahead of fellow perennial standout Nyxie Ryan who claimed the runner-up position.
“The surf definitely got a lot trickier as the day went on,” said Starling. “Honestly, I have just been really enjoying this run of events and want to make sure I can keep improving as the leg goes on and if I can keep making heats then it’s just a bonus.”
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.