The three-day spectacle that is the Women's Qualifying Series (QS) Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro QS6000 has arrived on the shores of Oceanside, Calif. Boasting surfing's largest field of female competitors, from July 22 - 24 the south side of the Oceanside Pier will host 114 surfers, alongside a full weekend of festivities celebrating women athletes from an array of action sports.
As the last of three 6,000-point events in the North America region, all the heavy-hitters are in attendance and looking to solidify their place within the Top 5 on the QS rankings. Defending Supergirl Pro champion Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) sits just inside the re-qualification bubble, though her No. 6 spot on the Samsung Galaxy Women's Championship Tour (CT) gives her an edge on requalifying. Weston-Webb came into this event firing on all cylinders last year and is looking for more of the same amid a highly talented field of competitors.
"I think I have a strong chance at defending my title again -- not taking anything away from the rest of the QS girls, but I feel I have good luck at this venue," Weston-Webb said.
"Winning this event last year definitely boosted my confidence tons and helped me feel really good going into the back half of the competitive season. I think something that's been a key to finding results is just to be happy with my surfing and know that no matter the result I'm still a great surfer, and that I love to compete."
Currently sitting atop the Women's QS rankings, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) is on a tear this year both on the Women's CT as an injury replacement and full-time QS competitor. Gaining vital knowledge and experience at the top level of competing has Macaulay prepared for the possibility of qualifying by year's end. But, the Aussie isn't getting ahead of herself and knows there's still work to be done.
It would be great to get another good result this year and keep going," Macaulay said. "To get a quarters or better would really put me in a good position for next year. I actually just went on a family camping trip up north in Western Australia for a couple of weeks and I was manly surfing lefts, and just enjoyed a bit of down time before Oceanside. I got to America nice and early to get used to the waves and time difference."
Fellow Hawaiian Malia Manuel (HAW) is no stranger to the beachbreak of Oceanside, Calif., earning a victory in 2013 and finishing with a Quarterfinal at last year's event. Looking for another big result at this year's event to solidify her place in the top tier of the QS rankings, Manuel finds herself in familiar territory and poised for a good second-half to her campaign.
"Being comfortable in Oceanside is definitely something I can attribute some past success to," Manuel said. "It's nice to actually be in America and have events. All year we are traveling and staying in different countries. California is a familiar place for us Hawaiians growing up and shaping our amateur careers. Mother Nature will only provide you what she wants and you have to take advantage of those opportunities. I have great support and some amazing equipment so that helps going into events knowing you're prepped."
San Diego, Calif., native Tia Blanco (USA) has been named the WSL North America wildcard in the Supergirl Pro. Blanco had an unfortunate showing at the first two QS6000 opportunities in Los Cabos and El Salvador, but she isn't letting that phase her. The 19-year-old is pleased about her chance to compete in front of her hometown crowd.
"I always have a fantastic time surfing in the Supergirl with such amazing energy down at the beach," Blanco said. "It is really awesome to compete against the best girls in the world. This will be such a great experience for me and I am sure I will learn a lot from this event, win or lose. I have been working really hard lately and I feel like I am surfing well, so I can definitely see myself getting a good result if the waves come my way. It is going to be awesome to have my family and friends down at the beach supporting me."
Round One will hit the water Friday morning at 8:00 a.m. local time. For live scoring and updates throughout the first day of competition, go to www.worldsurfleague.com , or download the WSL App to get event updates on your mobile device. Watch live starting Saturday morning at 7:30 a.m. PST for all the action.