A crop of the world's best female surfers lit up the surf in China at the first women's Qualifying Series (QS) event of 2015, the Samsung Galaxy Hainan Pro presented by Wanning. The event ran through two and a half Rounds of competition in excellent surf Riyue Bay, with competitors battling for all-important QS6000 ranking's points.
Pauline Ado (FRA) kicked off her 2015 in fine form, easily posting a heat win to advance to the Round of 24 with two 8 point plus rides. Ado didn't re-qualify for the Women's World Championship Tour last year and is fired up to re-claim her spot for next year's Tour.
â€œThe waves are really fun and to be scoring excellent eight point rides gives me a lot of confidence,â€ Ado said. â€œIt's the start of a new year but it doesn't really feel like it to me - normally we have a big break before starting each season, but it's January and we're all competing already - no complaints though, this is a great place to be!â€
Paige Hareb (NZL) and countrywoman Ella Williams (NZL) put on an epic show in the Round of 48 heat today, advancing in 1st and 2nd respectively. Hareb is another of last year's WCT surfers who didn't re-qualify and is here in China to fight for precious points and a big start to the year.
â€œIt's so good to score an opening Round win,â€ Hareb said. â€œI was disappointed with my 2014 season but this is a new year and I'm absolutely thrilled to be surfing quality waves at a left reef point break. The forecast is great and I'm excited to get back out there tomorrow.â€
Isabella Nichols (AUS) posted an impressive Round of 48 heat win with Mikaela Greene (AUS) also advancing in 2nd position. The young Aussie pair eliminated WCT surfer and one of the event's top seeds Laura Enever (AUS) in a tight tussle.
â€œI really enjoyed that heat,â€ Nichols said. â€œThe waves were very good and to win against surfers like Laura Enever and Natsuki Suda who are great surfers gives me confidence to start this year. My goal this year is to make the top 20 on the QS. I finished last year at 43 so it's a realistic goal - To qualify would be amazing but top 20 is the goal and anything better, well who knows.â€
Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) revelled the long left-handers at Riyue Bay, unloading fast and powerful wraps and carves to easily secure a berth in the Round of 24.
â€œI'm loving opening my year in China!â€ Weston-Webb said. â€œIt's such a new and great place to surf, it reminds me a lot of home. I have an exciting year ahead in my first season on the WCT but right now I'm maintaining my good form from last year and preparing for the season ahead.â€
Mainei Kinimaka (HAW), Ellie-Jean Coffey and Sarah Mason (NZL) were among the other standout performers, with all three surfers posting excellent scores with solid on-rail surfing.
12-year-old local surfer Keying Dong (CHN) was one of the event wildcards and created history by being the first female Chinese competitor to enter a QS event. The young surfer was eliminated in her first heat, but is a pioneer of surfing here in China and will be back bigger, better and more skilled next year.