Pristine conditions greeted a sea of world-class surfers as head-high peeling right-handers broke onto Kingscliff beach today for the start of the three-day World Surf League (WSL) Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) competition at 2016 The Australian Longboard Surfing Open.
The early heats of the Men's Voulte wetsuits Pro proved to be a hotly contested affair with local legend Dean Bevan blasting high performance moves alongside Evans Head's Ruben Roxburgh, who despite threading a last-minute barrel section was beaten by a fraction. Both surfers progressed to the next round leaving West Australian Anthony Spencer in their wake. Roxburgh enjoyed the experience of surfing with only a few others out in such great waves.
"The waves are really fun today," Roxburgh said. "I love surfing around Kingscliff, there is always a nice wave to be found in this area. To get waves like this during a heat when there is only a few other guys out is pretty special, I just hope I can keep going. I'm stoked to be back at this contest."
Round 1 Heat 2 was full of action with an eye-catching water performance by Coolangatta's Dane Pioli, winning his heat with a world-class display of traditional nose riding. Masaya Tsukamoto, all the way from Japan found the conditions challenging, failing to best Coffs Harbour surfer Jared Neal who delivered a convincing backhand attack.
WSL LQS Women's Round 1, saw only one lady from each heat progress to the finals. Rosie Locke, AUS and Errico Soleil USA took first place for Heat 1 and 2. Tension escalated and waves rolled in to see crowd-favourite, Reunion Island's Victoria Vergara knocked out. Defending champion, Karina Rozunko from San Clemente, earned the highest heat and single wave scores out of both the men's and women's WSL divisions, banking a solid 8.67 wave score (out of a possible10) for an impressive nose-ride with all toes over.
"It was a last minute decision to come back down under and defend my title here," Rozunko said. "I love competing here at Kinglscliff, the waves are fun and there is always a great atmosphere over the weekend. I feel lucky to have made that heat, all the girls have been surfing amazing."