New Zealand turned on for the top seeds with great weather and waves on offer all day long as the World Surf League's Port Taranaki Pro New Zealand, a women's Qualifying Series QS6000, powered forward. The day completed Rounds 2, 3, and 4, running from sunrise to sunset to take advantage of the great surf on offer.
Coco Ho (HAW) had an exciting back and forth battle against Japan's Nao Omura, with both surfers advancing into the next round ahead of Kim Veteau (GLP) and Holly-Sue Coffey (AUS). Ho took the win by a mere 0.16 and advanced with great form.
"The goal is always to be in the Final and take it out, but you have to focus on the heat ahead," Ho said. "The water here is a lot warmer than I've had in the past and the waves are really fun, I'm looking forward to the rest of the event and hopefully I can keep posting some good scores."
Pauline Ado (FRA) put on a dominant display in her opening heat at the Port Taranaki Pro. Ado posted two excellent 8-point-plus rides and advanced into the next round in first position alongside fellow Frenchwoman Maud Le Car who finished second.
"I just wanted the heat to keep going because I was having fun surfing," Ado said. "I'm trying to get back on the Championship Tour (CT), but it's been a slow start to the year for me so I'm hoping for a big result here in New Zealand."
Tia Blanco (USA) advanced to the final 24 of a QS6000 for the first time in her career today. The young American used smooth rail carves and vertical snaps to impress the judges, earning some great scores.
"I'm really happy to be into the next round," Blanco said. "I had a good heat earlier today so I was confident going into that heat. I did get nervous because there's great surfers in every heat at this level, but I just had fun catching waves and doing my own thing."
Local favorite Paige Hareb lead the charge in front of a patriotic local crowd. Hareb unleashed her typically powerful backhand surfing attack to easily win her Round 3 heat and advance to the final 24 surfers.
"I usually like to get a quick score at the start so I was nervous when that didn't happen," Hareb said. "I love this event and I love being at home here. This event is really important for me, I'm trying to qualify for the CT again and I've already got a 2nd place from earlier this year, but it would take some pressure off for the rest of the year if I can do well here too."
Laura Enever (AUS), last year's Port Taranaki Pro runner-up, took out her opening heat at this year's event. Enever's a current member of the elite Top 17 on the CT and was seeded into Round 4 matching up against an exciting bunch of up-and-comers. But it was Enever who ultimately booked a spot in the next round with some powerful and progressive surfing.
"The waves were really fun and I'm glad to make it through that heat even after making a couple of mistakes," Enever said. "The high tide made it hard to pick the right waves so I caught a couple of bad ones, but luckily I got a some scores and was able to get ahead. I'm a quarter New Zealander so I love it here, it's always good to be back in Taranaki."
Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) stamped her authority on the Port Taranaki Pro posting the event's first perfect 10-point-ride. Van Dijk's precise, sharp turns and snaps saw her claim an easy heat win to advance into the next round.
"My ears were blocked with water and I thought I heard wrong when they said 10-point-ride," Van Dijk said. "It feels great to get big scores and win heats. I'm loving New Zealand, the country is so lush and green and I love how green and natural it is here and I'm looking forward to getting back out there because the surf is really fun."