Manly Beach, NSW/AUS (Wednesday, February 28, 2018) - The Vissla Sydney Surf Pro World Surf League (WSL) has continued today with Men’s Round Two being run and done and with it bringing the event’s top seeds into the fold. There were upsets and standouts as some of the world’s best ripped into windy 2-to-3 foot peaks at the iconic Manly Beach.
With a howling northeasterly wind mowing through the lineup, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) opted to rely on his aerial repertoire to claim victory in his Round Two heat with a solid 15.00 two-wave heat total. As a former runner-up here in Manly, Fioravanti has seen the beach-break at its best and worst and knew the wind would be perfectly suited for his acrobatic antics.
“The first heat is always the hardest for me because you’re beginning to build momentum,” said Fioravanti. “I’ve been at Manly for the last few years and I’ve seen it in all sorts of conditions and when I come here I have zero expectations, so if the waves are good or bad then I still try to have fun. The wind is perfect for airs, so that’s what I relied on. I have Richard ‘Dog’ Marsh in my corner this year as a coach, which is a new partnership. He and I worked together up until I was about 13 or so and now we’re back together. He’s got so much wisdom to share and he’s really helped me while I’ve been here in Manly.”
After a tough competitive year in 2017, that saw Jack Freestone (AUS) drop off the elite Championship Tour, a first heat loss at Newcastle last week was not the start to the season he was after. The former two-time World Junior Champion has had to not only re-adjust to life back on the QS but to also adjust recently becoming a father. With what sleep he has been getting, Freestone has reset and came back at Manly looking solid as ever taking his first heat win of the season with a two-wave total of 13.56 ousting CT surfer and event favourite Kanoa Igarashi along the way.
“The biggest thing I’ve been working on this year is finding a balance with everything that is going on in my life,” Freestone said. “There is a lot going on and being a dad is obviously very new to me so there are a couple of challenges. I have a game plan that I will try and always stick too and it won’t work all of the time but it will most of the time. After Newcastle I knew I just needed a heat win and will hopefully be able to build on that.”
Heat 10 of Round Two was melting pot of Brazilian professional surfing generations with former Championship Tour stalwart Heitor Alves (BRA) coming up against Wiggoly Dantas (BRA),Flavio Nakagima (BRA) and young gun Samuel Pupo (BRA). The countrymen went blow for blow, trading mid-range scores, but in the end, it was the up and comer Pupo who took the win with a heat total of 13.76. The 17-year-old will progress with Dantas while Alves and and Nakagima were eliminated.
“I know all of those guys well so we were just chatting and having fun during the heat,” Pupo said. “I think that the relaxed environment out there definitely helped me. I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself this year and that heat I stayed relaxed and it seems to really help. I’m hoping the waves stay like they were during my heat, it was really similar to the waves at home which also helped me.”
After back-to-back QS1,000 victories at the Tweed Coast and Great Lakes events, Jackson Baker (AUS) rolled into his home event at Newcastle full of confidence. Unfortunately, the curse of the locals struck him down and he was eliminated in Round Two. Having a week to wash off the disappointment, Baker re-focused and prepared for a major match-up with Kalani Ball (AUS), Marco Giorgi (URY) and 2018 CT Rookie Griffin Colapinto (USA). Although he was up against some stiff competition, Baker looked unfazed posting a 14.10 heat total to progress with ease along with Colapinto.
“I didn’t get the result I was after in Newcastle I was after,” Baker said. “There is always a lot of pressure to do well at home but I couldn’t quite pull it together unfortunately, it’s a bit of a curse for the local surfers. Apart from that though I’m still carrying confidence from those two event wins more than the disappointment of last week. I hadn’t surfed for a few days so I was really excited to get out there for my heat and that always helps.”
2018 WSL Championship Tour surfer Keanu Asing (HAW) showed why he’s cut out for the big leagues, keeping his composure through the majority of the heat while sitting in third position. Requiring a decent score, Asing was able to post a solid 7.83 on his last wave of the heat to jump into first spot and earn a progressing position alongside Mateus Herdy (BRA).
“I had a clear game-plan that I knew I’d have to stick to,” said Asing. “I knew the lefthanders had so much potential, but you really just needed to find the right one. Thankfully, I found that one really long one at the end of the heat and I was able to post a 7.83 to move into first.”
The Vissla Sydney Surf Pro Is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The event will also be proudly supported by Vissla, Northern Beaches Council, WSL and Surfing NSW.
Words: World Surf League Image Credit: Matt Dunbar (WSL)