The Scoot Burleigh Pro presented by Vissla rolled on through, completing the Round of 48 of the men's division and the Round of 48 and 32 of the women's. Both divisions hold a QS1000 rating with surfers battling for points and prize-money and will crown champions tomorrow at one of the world's most iconic surf locations â€” Burleigh Heads.
Dion Atkinson (AUS) was one of the top performers of the morning, claiming an easy heat win with a near-perfect 9.25 and a 6.25 back-up score. Atkinson was on the elite Championship Tour (CT) last year, but failed to re-qualify after and up-and-down season. He is using the Scoot Burleigh Pro as a launchpad for his 2015 campaign to reclaim a spot among the elite.
â€œI've been looking forward to this event to get my year started,â€ Atkinson said. â€œI'm living just up the road so it's great to have an event in fun little waves at Burleigh. I was nervous at the start because it was hard to find the right waves, but it all ended up pretty good for me.â€
Mitch Crews (AUS) had a successful start to his 2015 QS campaign, advancing into the next round in 2nd position behind Ethan Ewing (AUS). Crews only caught two waves in the 20 minute heat, but it was enough to put him safely into the next round and stay in contention for the inaugural Scoot Burleigh Pro title.
â€œI only caught two waves in that one, I got real lucky to get through,â€ Crews said. â€œI love surfing Burleigh Heads so to be able to surf out here with just four guys is a rare opportunity so I'll take it. It's also a good chance to start the competitive year close to home.â€
Billy Stairmand (NZL) earned the highest heat score of the morning, locking in two 8-point-rides for his fast and radical approach. Stairmand was only 12 spots away from qualifying for the CT last year and is looking to go bigger and better this time around.
â€œI'm really excited for the year ahead and to start an event with good scores is a good sign,â€ Stairmand said. â€œI love the waves at Burleigh â€” we should get some fun waves tomorrow so I'm looking forward to Finals day.â€
Dimity Stoyle (AUS), Scoot Burleigh Pro No. 1 seed in the women's division, exploded out of the gates in her opening heat. Stoyle is preparing for her second year on the women's CT and appears fit and fired up.
â€œI love Burleigh, it's pretty much home for me right now,â€ Stoyle said. â€œI don't normally do QS1000 rated events but you can't pass up an opportunity to surf uncrowded Burleigh. Plus it was a long off season for me and I just need to get my competitive fire back. We have some big events coming up and I want to be ready for them.â€
Ellie-Jean Coffey (AUS) clocked the highest single wave score of her heat, but was left with a small back-up score and was forced to advance in 2nd position behind Macy Callaghan (AUS). Coffey started her 2015 QS campaign with a 5th place at the QS6000 in China and will surf in the Scoot Burleigh Pro Quarterfinals tomorrow.
â€œI should have had a better game plan,â€ Coffey said. â€œI went out there and got a good score early and so I just waited for another good wave, but I should have just kept busy and put another decent score on the board. I'm competitive and love to win, but really happy to make it through that one and still be in the event.â€
The 2014 Scoot Burleigh Pro Present by Vissla is proudly supported by, World Surf League, Surfing Queensland, Tourism and Events Queensland, Australia's Gold Coast, Telstra Store Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast Airport, Queensland Government, World Surfaris, Health Insurance Fund, Breaka Flavoured Milk, Australian Skin Cancer Clinics, Coastalwatch Plus, D'Blanc, Bruce Lynton Land Rover and Surfing Life Magazine.