The New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival resumed with the ASP 6-Star Qualifying Series Port Taranaki Pro. With precious rankings points and prize-money on offer, the action in the water was electric.
Surfers from 10 countries seeking Samsung Galaxy ASP Women's World Championship Tour (WCT) qualification took to the clean and pristine 3-foot (1 metre) surf as the event ran through three rounds of competition. The ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) event, the Chain Resources Pro Junior, also ran through the remaining heats of Round 2 of the men's competition and Round 1 of the women's.
Sarah Mason (Gisborne, NZL), former ASP WCT surfer is looking to rejoin the Top 17 next year and is on track after a solid performance at Taranaki today. Mason advanced through to the next round in second position behind Isabella Nichols (AUS) in a very tight heat that had all four surfers going for broke and posting solid scores.
"Taranaki is where I caught my first wave so I love this place," Mason said. "I'm really glad that this event is now a QS. It offers so much opportunity to the local surfers and I'm just hoping to make the most of it so I can set myself up for the rest of the events this year. The level of surfing is really high and I'm just hoping I can keep getting through the draw."
Nichols took command of her opening two Taranaki heats, clocking the highest two-wave heat total of the day--16.10 out of a possible 10. Nichols patrolled the lineup and selected the biggest and best waves of the heat unloading a series of beautiful turns and carves.
"These are some of the best waves I've ever surfed in competition," Nichols said. "It's great to start the event with some big scores and now I move into the next round full of confidence."
2002 ASP Women's WCT No. 2 Jacqueline Silva (BRA) taught a trio of teenagers a lesson in her opening heat. Silva used her polished and professional approach to take the win with Tia Blanco (USA) also advancing. Lucy Callister (AUS) and Brianna Cope (HAW) were eliminated with third and fourth place finishes, respectively.
"The girls in this event all surf really good so you just need to make sure you catch the good waves and don't make any mistakes," Silva said.
"The surf was pumping this morning, but it deteriorated a little for that second heat," Bernard said. "There's still some fun lefts you just have to be a little more selective."
Top 17 Women's WCT surfer and Taranaki local Paige Hareb (NZL) and reigning Junior Champion Ella Williams (NZL) will hit the water tomorrow alongside Bethany Hamilton (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Laura Enever (AUS) and a selection of the world's best female surfers.
For more information log on to Surffest.co.nz
New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival is presented by TSB Community Trust, Venture Taranaki, ZM, Marbles Buffet and Devon Hotel