Manly Beach, NSW/AUS (Saturday, March 3, 2018) - It’s been a tough day of competition at Manly for the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro with surfers dealing with small wind affected waves for the sixth day of the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 6,000 event. All though wave heights were low the stakes were high as 16 of the worlds best booked themselves a spot in the Quarterfinals.
Young Australian goofy-foot Reef Heazlewood (AUS) guaranteed himself a career-best QS result, overcoming Beyrick De Vries (ZAF) in their Round Five match-up. De Vries who was carrying solid form from the recent Newcastle event, was surfing fast in the small conditions and posted 10.53 two-wave total. Hailing from the Sunshine Coast, Heazlewood’s repertoire of manoeuvres in the small surf was unable to be matched as he won the heat with a total of 14.33 (out of a possible 20).
“That was a pretty intense heat,” Heazlewood said. “There was a lot of jostling for position but I eventually just tried to do my own thing. It was pretty hard to tell which waves are the good ones, so I just kept rolling on the ones that looked like they might have some shape. This will be my best result in a QS6,000 and I suppose If I keep surfing well and making heats, qualification could be on the cards. But that’s a long way away and I don’t want to get too far ahead of my self but it would be sick to be in that position at the end of the season.”
2018 WSL Championship Tour Rookie Michael Rodrigues (BRA) felt right at home in the small wind affected conditions. Coming up against countryman Wiggolly Dantas, Rodrigues was unstoppable, finding power in the waves that no one else could. He miraculously posted an excellent heat total of 17.76 to progress into the Quarterfinals while Dantas is eliminated in equal 9th.
"This place is like Brazil for me, Rodrigues said. Small waves and lots of friends on the beach - I feel at home. For me, it doesn’t matter about the size of the waves. It’s hard for other competitors but I find it super fun - As soon as I saw the waves I knew they were perfect for aerials and I was confident I’d be able to surf well.
Championship Tour competitor and event top seed Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) posted her strongest performance of the week, taking down Hawaiian CT veteran Coco Ho (HAW). Ho was the form surfer of the event having taken out the QS6,000 in Newcastle last week but was unable to overcome Van Dijk who posted round high 14.23 heat total.
“You can never get down about the waves being like this during an event,” Van Dijk said. “We are all in the same position and have to deal with it so it is best to stay positive. I could be totally flat so I’m just thankful we having something to surf. I don’t change my preparation too much I just try and stay light – surf a lighter board and keep nimble is the major focus.”
Having won in Manly last year, Malia Manuel (HAW) showed she could carry the same form despite the drastic difference in swell from 2017. Manuel came up against a blisteringly in form Kirra-Belle Olsson (AUS) in the Round Five exchange, posting a mediocre 10.83 two-wave heat total and cementing a spot into tomorrow’s final. “This is definitely the round you want to get through,” said Manuel.
“When the waves are this small, there are so many elements you need to get right – you need luck, you need to play the priority game, your preparation and you need to ensure you get the best waves. Thankfully it went my way this time.”
Macy Callaghan (AUS) continued her rampage through the Sydney Women’s Surf Pro, taking out her Round Five heat. Callaghan found multiple lefts in the totally wave-starved lineup to post two above average scores to amass a 12.16 two-wave total and cement her spot in the Quarterfinals. Callaghan overcame Portuguese goof-footer Teresa Bonvalot (PRT) who was left chasing an elusive 8.33 wave score.
“That was a really tough heat to get going in,” said Callaghan. “I knew you would have to wait patiently for whatever decent waves came through, even though there weren’t too many. It’s definitely a good feeling to get those tough heats out of the way.”
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
Photos: Tom Bennett (WSL)