The Vissla Sydney Surf Pro continued today with the men's second round run and done, bringing the event's top seeds into the fold. There were upsets and standouts as some of the world's best ripped into windy two-to-three foot peaks at the iconic Manly Beach.
With a howling northeasterly wind mowing through the lineup, Leonardo Fioravanti opted to rely on his aerial repertoire to claim victory with a solid 15.00 two-wave heat total. A former runner-up here in Manly, Leo has seen the beach-break at its best and worst and knew the wind would be perfectly suited for his aerial antics.
"The first heat is always the hardest for me because you're beginning to build momentum," he said. "I've been at Manly for the last few years and I've seen it in all sorts of conditions and when I come here I have zero expectations, so if the waves are good or bad I still try to have fun. The wind is perfect for airs, so that's what I relied on. I have Richard ‘Dog' Marsh in my corner this year, which is a new partnership. He and I worked together up until I was about 13 or so and now we're back together. He's got so much wisdom to share and he's really helped me while I've been here in Manly."
After a tough competitive year in 2017, Jack Freestone dropped off the elite Championship Tour and a first heat loss at Newcastle last week was not the fresh start he was after. The former two-time World Junior Champion now has to not only re-adjust to life on the QS but also balance it with becoming a father. With what little sleep he has been getting, Jack reset and came back looking solid as ever taking his first heat win of the season in Manly with a two wave total of 13.56 ousting CT surfer and event favourite Kanoa Igarashi along the way.
"The biggest thing I've been working on this year is finding a balance with everything that is going on in my life," he said. "There is a lot going on and being a dad is obviously very new to me so there are a couple of challenges. I have a game plan that I will try and always stick to and it won't always work but it will most of the time. After Newcastle I knew I just needed a heat win and will hopefully be able to build on that."
Heat 10 of Round Two was a melting pot of Brazilian generations with former CT stalwart Heitor Alves coming up against Wiggolly Dantas, Flavio Nakagima and young gun Samuel Pupo. The countrymen went blow for blow, trading mid-range scores, but in the end, it was Miguel the up-and-comer who took the win with a heat total of 13.76. The 17-year-old will progress with Wiggolly while Heitor and Flavio were eliminated.
"I know all of those guys well so we were just chatting and having fun during the heat," Miguel said. "I think that the relaxed environment out there definitely helped me. I have been putting a lot of pressure on myself this year and that heat I stayed relaxed and it seemed to really help. I'm hoping the waves stay like they were during my heat, it was really similar to the waves at home which also helped me."
After back-to-back QS 1,000 wins at the Mothernest Tweed Coast Pro and Vissla Great Lakes Pro pres by D'Blanc, Jackson Baker rolled into his home event at Newcastle full of confidence. Unfortunately the curse of the locals struck him down and he was eliminated in Round Two. Having a week to wash off the disappointment, Jackson re-focused and prepared for a major match-up with Kalani Ball, Marco Giorgi and 2018 CT Rookie Griffin Colapinto. Up against some stiff competition, Jackson looked unfazed this time and posted a 14.10 heat total to advance along with Griffin.
"I didn't get the result I was after in Newcastle," he said. "There is always a lot of pressure to do well at home but I couldn't quite put it together unfortunately, it's a bit of a curse for the local surfers. Apart from that though I'm still carrying confidence from those two event wins more than the disappointment of last week. I haven't surfed for a few days so I was really excited to get out there for my heat and that always helps."
2018 WSL Championship Tour surfer Keanu Asing showed why he's cut out for the big leagues, keeping his composure through the majority of the heat while sitting in third position. Requiring a decent score, Keanu was able to post a solid 7.83 on his last wave of the heat to jump into first and earn a progressing spot alongside Mateus Herdy.
"I had a clear game-plan that I knew I'd have to stick to," he said. "I knew the lefts had so much potential, but you really just needed to find the right one. Thankfully, I found that one really long one at the end of the heat and I was able to post a 7.83 to move into first."