The Port Stephens Toyota Pro continued today with the women's WSL Qualifying Series 6,000 event hitting the water. Conditions settled for the second day of competition with Birubi Beach dishing up clean 2-to-3 foot surf for the completion of Rounds 1 and 2.
With some of surfing's biggest up-and-coming names on hand, the standout performance of the day went to young Australian Mia McCarthy. 19-year-old McCarthy posted an excellent 8 - point ride (out of a possible 10) on her first wave of the day. It was the highest single wave score of the day and was earned for a solid display of backhand surfing. It was an impressive feat from someone who is competing in her first ever QS 6,000 event.
"This is the biggest event I have competed in, so I was just having fun out there," McCarthy said. "I was watching that bank before the heat and it looked like it had a fair bit of potential. It seems like I made the right choice. I'm stoked to be into Round 3 at this event. It would be so amazing to come up against one of the Championship Tour surfers as I look up to all of them a lot. I just want to keep having fun."
Japanese competitor Nao Omura was another standout, posting the highest two wave total of the event so far, a 15.44 (out of a possible 20). Omura was in sync with the small grinding lefthanders, fitting in turns where others couldn't to convincingly progress through Round 3 alongside compatriot Ren Hashimoto.
"That was really fun out there," said Omura. "I think the waves really suit my surfing today, so I hope they stay like this for the next few days. I surfed in this event last year and loved it. It is so great to be back. I'm not to concerned with my results I just want the experience."
Sara Wakita had her work cut out for her when she came up against former CT competitor and World Junior Champion Laura Enever, Tia Blanco and Jess Grimwood. While Grimwood and Enever found early scores, Blanco and Wakita waited till late in the heat to pounce on the top two spots with Wakita taking the heat and Blanco progressing in second spot, while the two Aussies are eliminated from the event.
"I was really nervous in the heat," said Wakita. "All of the other surfers in that heat were so good and I struggled to compose myself - I don't think I surfed my best so I feel lucky to have made it. It was tough to pick the right ones so I'm glad I got a few that allowed me to do turns."
Big wave charger Felicity Palmateer returned to Birubi to get back into the competitive swing of things after a short time out of the water recovering from a back injury. The stylish goofyfoot kept it simple for her first surf back, only catching two waves to post her winning heat total of 11.60.
"It's been a while since I've surfed in general let alone a contest," Palmateer said. "I've had a bit of a back injury so this was actually my first surf in nearly two months. I thought as this is the last event of the year and it is in Australia I may as well enter it and see how I go. I love this zone. The waves are amazing and the beaches are beautiful so hopefully the waves keep coming and we can have fun."