WSL WOMEN’S QUALIFICATION RACE GOES INTO OVERDRIVE ON DAY FIVE OF PORT STEPHENS TOYOTA PRO.
Birubi Beach has continued to deliver quality waves on Day 5 of the Port Stephens Toyota Pro QS6,000 as the fight for spots on the 2019 Championship Tour continued to reach fever pitch. It was a mixed bag of results as big names progressed into the finals, while others were eliminated leaving their fate in the hands of fellow competitors.
Currently sitting in 10th place on the Qualifying Series rankings, Brisa Hennessy (CRI) is the highest ranked non-CT surfer at Port Stephens. The young Costa Rican representative has put forward a solid case for a CT spot in 2019 as she progressed into the quarterfinals at Birubi today with a solid heat win over event young Californian Kirra Pinkerton. Hennessy will take on CT star Sage Erickson in quarterfinal four tomorrow.
"All the girls who can make it on the CT keep making heats so I was feeling the pressure," Hennessy said. "I have been trying to be present and focus on being in the moment and it seems to be working. Tomorrow will be a fun day, it will be exciting to see how it all plays out. I am loving my time here in Port Stephens, we always get great waves."
CT qualification hopeful Macy Callaghan (AUS) snuck through her round four heat by the skin of her teeth this morning but made sure there was no questioning her performance in round five as she belted her way to a 14.77 heat total. Callaghan has made it through to the Final day and feels she couldn’t be more prepared for the challenge ahead.
“I’m here to win this event,” Callaghan said. “I feel like there is nothing more I can do to prepare as I have been preparing for this my whole life. I’m a lot more relaxed than last year and am content with whatever happens, but I feel like that will only play to my advantage come finals day. I’m really excited about tomorrow.”
Local favourite Philippa Anderson (AUS) has given herself every opportunity at clinching a spot on the 2019 Championship Tour, taking a spot in the Quarterfinals once again. Anderson took a narrow win over young Aussie Kobie Enright (AUS) who posted her best result of the year. Anderson will have her work cut out for her on Finals Day when she comes up against event standout Nikki Van Dijk (AUS).
“That was pretty tight towards the end but I was always feeling pretty comfortable,” Anderson said. “I had a mid 7.00 point ride so knew I was in a good position and could always improve my total. I’m really happy to be through to the Final Day, my friends and family have all been up here supporting me. They were all at Surfest in Newcastle this year where I did well so I hope they bring me more luck tomorrow.”
The opening heat of round five was one of the most exciting of the entire event with Hawaiian up and comer Summer Macedo (HAW) taking on CT sophomore Bronte Macaulay (AUS). With Macedo sitting outside of the possibility of qualification and Macaulay attempting to hold onto a top five QS spot, the pressure lay squarely on the West Australian’s shoulders. Macedo had Bronte on the ropes until the dying seconds of the heat as the pair went back and forth with Macaulay eventually taking the heat by a mere 0.34 of a point.
“The heat was intense,” Macaulay said. “Every time I got a good wave Summer would be right behind me getting a solid score so my heart rate was extremely high for the whole heat. I knew that winning that heat would lock me into the top 5 on the QS rankings so I’m really relieved to have done it and feel like I can relax a little more heading into Finals Day and Maui.”
A clutch Quarterfinal result at the 2017 Port Stephens Toyota Pro put Kiwi Paige Hareb (NZL) back on the Championship Tour. In 2018, Hareb had already done the hard work on the QS and came back to Birubi to solidify herself on the Dream Tour. The powerful goofy-footer did that and more today, booking a spot in the Quarterfinals once again whilst posting the highest heat total of the event so far, a 16.86 (out of a possible 20).
“That was really fun out there today,” Hareb said. “Although it’s small this bank suits the wave size and is way better on high tide and I seem to be getting all of the high tide heats. It felt great to post a big score like that and hope it can boost my confidence. I’ve struggled to make a heat on the CT this year so now I’m safe for 2019 I want to go to Maui in a good head space and try to make a couple of heats. I’m just stoked that I’m back on next year.”
Holly Wawn (AUS) was eliminated in round five meaning her hopes of Qualification have been dashed for this year. CT competitor Malia Manuel (HAW) has also been eliminated meaning her spot on the CT could come down to her performance at the Maui Beachwaver Pro.
Nikki Van Dijk, Sage Erickson and Mahina Maeda also booked spots in the Quarterfinals, which will run tomorrow at Birubi Beach. Be sure to tune in as we decide qualifiers for the 2019 WSL Championship Tour.
The 2018 Port Stephens Toyota Pro will run from November 8 – 13. The event will be broadcast live from the 10th – 13th at www.worldsurfleague.com and on the free WSL App. Head here for more information, results, images and highlights.
The 2018 Port Stephens Toyota Pro couldn’t happen without the support of the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The event is also supported by Port Stephens Toyota, Port Stephens Council, AirAsia, Kaos Surf, PRD Nationwide, Wanderers Retreat, The Oasis Eco Retreat, Murrays Brewery, Surfing NSW and WSL.