Professional Surfing returned to its Australian birthplace today, the iconic Manly Beach where Midget Farley was crowned a world surfing champion. Today it's a different scene with a huge field of the world's best surfers competing at the annual Australian Open of Surfing.
Hitting the lineup on Day 1 of competition was the QS6,000 Aussie Bodies Women's Pro that surfed all the way to the completion of Round 3. The early morning conditions were clean with three-to-four foot waves on offer for competitors.
After a long stretch on the road competing at all of the Australasia QS events over the last month, Portugal's Teresa Bonvalot's (PRT) competitive game was looking sharp at Manly today. Bonvalot opted to take the right-handers on her backhand allowing her to drop some big scores in each of her heats. Her aggressive backhand attack was rewarded with a heat-total of 15.83 putting her though to Round 4.
"The waves are fun out there today," Bonvalot said. "I was a little nervous before the heat so a lot of the time I was just trying to calm myself. I'm stoked to be in this event, this is the first time I have competed at Manly and I really love it. I feel I'm in a good spot to get on a roll."
After a few years out of the competition game, 2004 World Champion Sofia Mulanovich (PER) is back in a jersey and it doesn't look like her competitive edge has been lost during her hiatus. Mulanovich put on a dominant display in her Round 3 heat reminding the crowd of her glory days with huge hacks in the bowling right-handers.
"It's hard to get back in the contest jersey after two years off," Mulanovich said. "I'm slowly feeling it out and it seems to be coming back too me, but I don't want to get too caught up in how far I can take it, I just want to take it heat by heat."
Felicity Palmateer (AUS) found herself looking for a score for the majority of her Round 3 heat as she moved between third and fourth position. In the last minute the ocean delivered and Palmateer tagged the lip multiple times before unloading a massive vertical re-entry on the closeout. The wave earned her a 6.71 and the advance to Round 4.
"I was trying to keep as calm as I could," Palmateer said. "I feel like I got lucky with that one because a lot of the waves during that heat had a bit of wobble in them but that one stayed clean. I'm happy to get through."
Coming straight from the Final at the Newcastle Surfest where he finished 2nd, Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) continued his run of success in Round 1 at Manly. The young Italian was patient and selective during the heat, only needing a few waves to earn a two-wave total of 14.94 with his smooth tactical style.
"I was pretty tired after Newcastle so I've been trying to relax all day," Fioravanti said. "I feel like I'm just at the same contest continuing through heats which is sort of a good thing. I know I'm surfing well and my board is good so I'm feeling confident. I think it's a great way to compete having events back-to-back like this."
Check back tomorrow as we complete the remaining 18 heats of Men's Round 1.