Former WSL Championship Tour surfer Connor O'Leary made his intentions clear that he wants to be back on the elite CT, showing the skills that allowed him to take out the 2017 Rookie Of The Year title. O'Leary was on the ropes for the majority of the final against Caleb Tancred but was able to find a punchy left in the final three minutes of the heat to post an excellent 8.83 and take the lead.
"It was almost like I had a three-minute heat," said O'Leary. "I thought I'd just sit and finish the heat with priority and not catch a wave, but thankfully I found that little left-hander and it all worked out. 2018 was definitely a weird year for me and there were a few things that didn't go my way, but no excuses really. I'm excited to be heading into 2019."
Philippa Anderson was able to get her 2019 QS campaign off to a flying start thanks to a win at the 2019 Carve Pro. Anderson dominated the relatively wave-starved final, posting an impressive 13.66 two-wave heat total to get the edge over Holly Wawn for an array of powerful, flowing frontside turns.
"To walk away with a win in the first event of the year feels really good," said Anderson. "I'll be giving the QS a good go again this year. To start the year in NSW and get my feet in the wax in my own state is awesome. To get so close to qualifying last year and then to start this year with a win, confirms in my head that I can surf these events and you're doing the right thing."
Caleb Tancred looked almost certain to claim his second QS victory from as many events at the Carve Pro, but as time ticked down (and not holding priority), Tancred was forced to watch O'Leary snatch his lead thanks to the aforementioned 8.83 wave score. After claiming victory at the Port Stephens Pro at the end of 2018 and now a runner-up finish at Maroubra, Tancred heads into the 2019 Qualifying Series full of confidence.
"It was really fun to surf a few heats down here," said Tancred. "Unfortunately the swell died a bit today, but it was still really good to share a heat with someone like Connor. I hope he does really well again this year and ends up back on the tour."
Despite putting on stellar performances over the course of the entire Carve Pro, Holly Wawn was unable to find the same rhythm in the wave-starved final. Wawn remained patient in the heat, only catching five waves, but was unable to find the same mojo that got her to the final and had to settle for the runner-up spot.
"It feels nice to start the year off so close to home," said Wawn. "It would have been good to get a few more waves in the final, but I'm still stoked with the result and am looking forward to the next couple of events and the two 6000 rated QS competitions in NSW also."