After her debut on the Samsung Galaxy Women's Championship Tour (CT) last year as the first Bajan to represent her country on the elite stage, Chelsea Tuach is returning to the Qualifying Series in hopes of finding her way back to the Dream Tour. The 21-year-old has her sights on a big start with a new perspective and knowledge gained from her time as an elite competitor.
Tuach finished with an Equal 5th as her best result on the QS last year, something she knows will not be enough to earn a CT worthy Top 6 QS rank by season's end.
"I can't wait for the season to start back up again," Tuach said. "I feel like I've had a good amount of time to work on my surfing in the offseason and I'm definitely itching to put that jersey back on. I learned what it took to be one of the best and it gave me new determination, to improve and fight and get back to the Championship Tour. I'll be taking that desire and all of the competition knowledge I gained last year into this new season."
"I think I realized how much I loved what I do," Tuach continued. "I focused a lot on my technique in the off season and just enjoyed being home surfing my own waves for a while. It will be awesome if I can start the year with a great result and carry some confidence into the Australia events and through the rest of the year."
Runner-up at last year's inaugural women's Shoe City Pro event, Tia Blanco returns to Huntington with some unfinished business and a renewed vigor for another crack at the QS. 2017 may hold more for the San Clemente surfer as she works out the winning formula in her Sophomore season.
"Last year was a really fun event and we had some fantastic waves," Blanco said. "I have confidence coming into this event, but I know I will have to strive to surf my very best because there are some really talented girls that have entered. It would be an awesome confident booster to have a win going into these next big events in Australia. I have pretty much kept my same routine [from last year] and have tried to be consistent with it."
Just 14-years-old, Caroline Marks is a rising talent who's also had experience at the CT level as a wildcard in the Hurley Lowers Pro in 2015 -- at the age of 13. But, the surfing world has barely scratched the surface of this Florida-raised, now San Clemente-native as she prepares for a brand new year with the same motivated mindset.
"It's good to be home now and I'm really stoked for the first competition of this season," Marks said. "This will be my first time doing this event since I missed it last year, but I know Huntington so well and I feel like I have a special connection with it. I still always have that competitive mindset and even though it's a new year I'm still super hungry, motivated, and just wanting to compete."
"I'll still be doing the amateur events since I'm just turning 15 this year and I'm always focused on the Junior Tour. This year I'll also put more effort into the bigger QS events and try to do well in some 6,000 level events which I'm super excited for."
The women's wildcard is represented by North America Junior Tour competitor Samantha Sibley who is beginning to get her experience at the next level. Sibley finished with an impressive fourth-place at the Soup Bowl Pro Junior to conclude her 2016 season and now looks ahead to new opportunities in 2017. The San Clemente surfer is all too familiar with Huntington Beach and will look to use that to her full advantage.
"That last result on the Junior Tour left me with a lot of confidence so I'm testing the waters with the QS, but my main focus is still the junior events," Sibley said. "I definitely want to try more of the QS events in the North America region, but just being 14 I'm still taking it in baby steps. It's cool to be starting these QS's so young and I'm just so fortunate to have the opportunity to travel at this age."