After two days of relentless northerly winds battering Cabarita beach, competitors at the Telstra Stores Tweed Coast Pro finally arrived to find light winds and clean conditions. The swell had dropped a little, but the intensity was certainly raised as the field began to narrow and top seeds stepped into the ring.
The picturesque Norries Headland that overlooks Cabarita is usually home to a long, grinding right sandbank. Unfortunately, it is also presently home to a gaping hole in the bank, forcing the competition site to move north to the main beach. Luckily for all involved there is a rippable A-frame peak that has been offering up great waves for competitors.
After a third-place finish at the Burleigh Pro last week, Guadeloupe's Timothee Bisso forgot to enter the Telstra Stores Tweed Coast Pro on time and found himself surfing from Round One. This hasn't been an issue for the super-fast goofyfooter who has been nailing high scores all the way through the draw. Round Four was no different as Bisso disassembled the lineup on his backhand to post a heat total of 17.40 (out of a possible 20). This was the second-highest heat total of the Round.
"I see surfing from Round One as a good opportunity for me as it's great practice," Bisso said. "I've been posting some good scores at the moment which I'm really happy with. I'm not that tired either so it's all good. I really don't think surfing from Round One is bad thing at all, the waves are fun and the water is warm."
Young Californian Nolan Rapoza moved through his Round Three heat with ease at Cabarita with a heat total of 15.85. Rapoza's laser-sharp backhand in the small waves could be attributed to growing up in Long Beach, near Los Angeles, but he believes everyone gets dealt these conditions.
"Every contest that I have surfed on this Australian leg has been on the small side so I suppose everyone has equal experience in these conditions," Rapoza said. "None of my heats have been amazing, I have just been scraping through so I wanted put a solid heat total together soon. Everyone has to deal with these small conditions on the QS so I'm not complaining."
Gold Coaster Nick Callister was living life on the edge in his Round Three heat, holding priority in third position until the final seconds. Callister only needed a high four to progress but wasn't moving on anything he didn't think could offer him a good score. With only 30 seconds remaining in the heat, he found a righthander and smashed three big backhand re-entries to score a 7.15 and progress in the top spot.
"I have been watching this bank all morning so I knew what sort of waves were coming through," Callister said. "While I was waiting I was confident a wave with the score would come through and luckily it did. I'm on a new board as well which made things interesting because I'm not super used to it."
Wade Carmichael has been on the cusp of qualifying for the elite Championship Tour (CT) on a number of occasions and when you see him surf, you know why. With a bigger frame than most in the draw it is hard to comprehend how nimble and fast Carmichael can be in the small waves. And his performance in Round Four was clear proof, with Carmichael sending masses of water everywhere on his way to a heat win. He also posted a near-perfect single-wave score of 9.50 (out of a possible 10) one of the highest of the event so far.
"It feels really good to get back in a jersey and get focused again," he said. "The waves are small which makes it hard but it is what it is and we just have to get it done. Last year didn't finish as I would have liked so I'm keen to just focus this year and get some solid results early in the season."