QUALIFICATION RACE HEATS UP AT PORT STEPHENS TOYOTA NSW PRO
The final eight surfers have been decided at the Port Stephens Toyota NSW Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 6000 event at Birubi Beach. With important qualifying points up for grabs, Day 3 saw some surfers move closer to achieving their goals while others had their dreams crushed as Birubi point dished up clean 2-to-3 foot waves.
Philippa Anderson from Newcastle has been aiming for the Championship Tour for six years now and after a solid run throughout the season, 2017 may have been her closest shot at it. Needing a solid result at the last event of the year, Anderson was on track until she came up against underdog Teresa Bonvalot who had other ideas.
Bonvalot is not in contention for the CT but is keen on getting experience against the best, and that is what she will get when she moves through to the Quarterfinals. The goofy-foot won the heat with a total of 14.16 (out of a possible 20), eliminating Anderson from the event and from CT contention.
“Although I’m not in with a chance of qualifying this season I’m still keen to go far in this event,” Bonvalot said. “I know it is a really important event for girls wanting to qualify including Philippa and I feel bad when I see them lose but at the same time, I am here to win and that’s just how it goes in surfing. I’m feeling really good and am so happy with how I’ve been surfing so I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Sitting at 10th on the QS rankings is current World Junior Champion Macy Callaghan. Callaghan will need a few results on the CT to go her way along with a solid result here at Birubi if she is to qualify. On Day 3 Callaghan continued to give herself every chance of jumping onto the CT as the 17-year-old moved into the quarterfinals. Callaghan posted a 13.33 heat total to win in Round Six over Hawaii’s Zoe McDougall.
“I’m more focused on this event and trying to win it than anything else,” Callaghan said. “The whole qualification thing is just a bonus. That was a tough heat with the building swell and low tide, so it was nice to find one excellent ride. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and just getting out there and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Currently sitting at 9th on the CT rankings and eighth on the QS, Johanne Defay has travelled to Port Stephens as a qualification safety precaution. The travel has paid off with Defay locking in a spot in the quarterfinals with a solid win over Brissa Hennessy, putting her in a combination situation (needing two scores) with a solid heat total of 16.76.
“The waves have just been getting better and better today,” Defay said. “It was nice to have the surf clean up and get bigger. I’m not guaranteed to re-qualify on the CT so I came here to gain some points and I have. The waves have been great as well so it has been well worth the trip so far. I’ll be stoked if Birubi continues to provide excellent waves like this.”
Kiwi competitor Paige Hareb has been working hard for three years to return to the elite Championship Tour where she spent six years campaigning for a world title. Hareb is in 9th position on the QS and with things going her way at Maui is looking good to make her return. She has gone the right way about it on Day 3 at Birubi, winning through to the Quarters which will guarantee her an equal 5th or better and a minimum of 2,650 QS points.
“I’ve never been to this place but I am super impressed,” Hareb said. “We have had awesome waves this event so having a good result here is great. I have been working for a few years now to get back to the CT and I’m hoping this is the year. I’m not thinking too much about it I just want to surf heats and enjoy myself and hope the result comes.”
In her first ever year on the QS, Tahitian Vahine Fierro is not in the hunt for qualifying but is possibly looking for a higher seeding for the 2018 QS season. With a spot in the quarterfinals locked in the 17-year-old is guaranteed the best result of her career.
“I’ve surfed in two other events of this size but this is the best that I have done,” Fierro said. “It’s so nice to be here at such a beautiful beach, the waves are amazing. This is my last event of the year so I’m really excited to kick off next year as my confidence has had such a boost this year.”
Joining the Men’s QS1,000 and Women’s QS6,000 components of the event will be the Port Stephens Women’s Challenge and the PRD Port Stephens and Kaos Surf Cadet Cup. Both events will give amateur women and promising junior stars the opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in women’s surfing. Divisions in the PRD Port Stephens and Kaos Surf Cadet Cup comprise of Under 16 Boys and Girls, Under 14 Boys and Girls, Under 12 Boys and Girls and Under 10 Boys and Girls.
All news, results and images from the Port Stephens Women’s Challenge and the PRD Port Stephens and Kaos Surf Cadet Cup will be uploaded to surfingnsw.com.au
In addition to the action in the water, Surfing NSW have undertaken a range of local engagements for the Port Stephens community, ranging from Indigenous surfing lessons, boardriders activations and allowing local students to gain work experience on site.
The 2017 Port Stephens Toyota NSW Pro couldn’t happen without the support of the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW The event will run from November 2 – 5. For more information and a live broadcast head to www.worldsurfleague.com and check the WSL App.