Ladies day at Surfest Newcastle unfolded as the Hunter Ports Women's Classic ran through Rounds 3 and 4 of competition, leaving just 12 surfers in contention for the coveted event title. The surf was small, but offering clean sections for explosive turns for the surfers brave enough to take on the Merewether rock shelf.
Dimity Stoyle (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) sent a warning shot to her fellow competitors that she's hungry to defend her Hunter Ports Women's Classic title. Winning this event in 2013 set Stoyle up for the biggest competitive year of her life and by year's end she qualified for the elite ASP Women's World Championship Tour and will make her debut on the Gold Coast. Stoyle posted the event's highest wave score 9.90 (out of a possible 10), and backed that up with a 9.27 and topped off her near-perfect heat by eliminating five-time ASP Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS).
"I'm really bummed that Steph (Gilmore) is out of the event, she's my favourite surfer." Stoyle said. "I went out and I wanted to get the best waves of the heat, I felt a little greedy. At the start of the heat I made sure that I sat where I wanted to and a good wave came. I was so happy that it worked, I paddled back out and the same thing happened again. It's hard to find the waves out there so I felt bad for everyone else in my heat, but I'm really happy to be through to the next round."
Pauline Ado (FRA) has been in sizzling form at the Hunter Ports Women's Classic, posting excellent scores in every heat executing fast and critical turns. Ado advanced into the last round of competition before the Quarterfinals where she will face Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) and Alessa Quizon (HAW).
"It's been really cold and hard to train at home in France," Ado said. "It's great to be here in the warm sun and only wear a light wetsuit. It took me awhile to get into a rhythm in that heat. I posted some big scores and then I felt confident, but towards the end Paige (Hareb) and Alana (Blanchard) started to get some good scores and then I started to stress again, but it all worked out. I would love to win this event, but right now I'm focussed on my next heat."
Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) used her powerful backhand attack to post two scores in the 8-point-range and claim an easy victory in Round 4. While some surfers struggled in the small surf conditions, Buitendag powered through her turns, to be one of the eight ASP Women's WCT surfers left in the 12 woman draw.
"Even though there's a bit of swell it's broken up by the wind, you really have to be in the right place at the right time," Buitendag said. "As you progress the rounds get more critical so it's good that there's swell coming. This is my third year at this event and I really enjoy it, I'm starting to recognise the roads and places I go. We're staying with a family just across the road, it's very cool, I feel very comfortable here."
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