The Vissla Great Lakes Pro pres by D'Blanc QS1,000 ran through a big day of action that saw top seeds and big names battle it out for a chance to feature on Finals day. The wind swung around and blew in all directions today, but the competitors stepped up and put on a show with aerials, carves and ripping turns.
Meah Collins was the form surfer of the day on the women's side of the draw. Collins consistently posted excellent scores, even netting an 8.00 for a one-turn wave after executing one of the biggest turns of the event on a tricky section. She had advanced into the Quarterfinals where she will face Sarah Baum from South Africa when competition resumes tomorrow.
"I knew today was a day where you needed the right waves, so I tried to use my priority wisely and it worked out," Collins said. "I had a bad year last year and didn't seem to make as many heats as I'd like to, so I've been working hard and I am glad that it's working here. Hopefully I can keep the roll going tomorrow and into the upcoming QS 6,000 events at Newcastle and Manly."
Californian Alyssa Spencer booked a spot in the Quarterfinals after an impressive Round Three heat win that saw Philippa Anderson also advance in second position. Spencer has been competing in Australia since early January and will be looking to secure her best QS result of the year by advancing through tomorrow's Quarterfinals, to better her 5th place at the Carve Pro.
"I've been loving my time in Australia!," Spencer said. "We have had some great waves and I made some great friends too. It's been busy, there's been so many events back-to-back, but I've seen so much and had so much fun. After Manly though I am really looking forward to spending some time at home."
Winner of last week's Mothernest Tweed Coast Pro, Jackson Baker, was on fire again at Boomerang Beach. Baker advanced into the Quarterfinals after taking first place in a stacked heat that featured Sheldon Simkus, Dean Bowen and Hiroto Ohhara, with Simkus also advancing in second position.
"In the past after I've won or had a good result I've lost first heat at the next one, so it feels really good to be through to the Quarters," Baker said. "I broke my favourite board this morning, it would have been perfect for out there this afternoon, but this back up board seemed to work -- so I'm happy. I feeling confident heading into the Burton Automotive Pro at home in Newcastle which was the goal of competing in these QS 1,000s. That heat was so stacked -- I saw the lefts and was worried that Bowen and Hiroto would blow up, lucky for me I survived and can come back to compete again tomorrow."
Matt Banting is looking like he hasn't taken a backward step, despite sitting out the best part of two years with back-to-back injuries. The Port Macquarie local launched and landed big aerials, executed precision snaps and carves to drop near-perfect scores and book a Quarterfinal berth against Sheldon Simkus.
"Yesterday before my heat I had butterflies and I was nervous, but today I didn't so I'm just working on building back up my surfing and experience," Banting said. "The 20-minute heats go so fast and all the guys surf so good, so I had to be on my game. Winning yesterday and then another heat win today feels incredible, it's the best feeling. We're so lucky to be able to travel the world and surf and compete and I've been working hard to get back to this level. I'm fitter than ever so now I just need to keep surfing and preparing to hopefully get back on the Championship Tour. If it happens this year, great, if not, I'll be back and next year and the year after because I believe I still have what it takes."
Another former CT surfer who lit up the lineup at Boomerang today was Davey Cathels. Cathels only lives a few hours down the coast at North Narrabeen and has spent plenty of time enjoying the waves at Boomerang in his surfing life. The competitive experience paid off today as he amassed one of the highest two-wave heat-totals of the event thus far 17.75 out of a possible 20.
"I'm happy with that heat! An 8.50 and a 9.25, I'll take that!," Cathels said. "The wind puffed up and it made it better and all the guys were ripping. It's crazy to see the level of surfing here, it feels like it is a QS 6,000, which is why I'm here. It's good to get some practice heats before the big events coming up."