The 2017 Women's Qualifying Series (QS) season opened today in tricky, later afternoon Huntington Beach conditions offered less open face than the morning -- but that did not stop them from finding gems of their own.
Oahu's Bailey Nagy unleashed a display of power surfing she found the proper sets to do so and found two excellent-scoring rides to put the field in a combination situation. The former Vans US Open winner didn't have the year she wanted last season and comes into 2017 refreshed, and ready to take on the hurdles ahead.
"Somehow that left just kept giving me more and more and I wasn't sure that right would get me that kind of score so it was really exciting. I grew up surfing waves like this being born here then moving to Hawaii, but I live here through the summer and only surf Huntington really."
"I have a great support crew here with my boyfriend, Lucca [Mesinas], and coach Chad Wells, as well as my family at home so everyone's stoked. When I'm home I train a lot, but I wasn't home much this offseason since I went to Peru for a whole month and we just surfed for a whole month. Even though I'm still in school it was just free time with some exams and focusing on not competing which was so nice. It's a little draining, but you're always super excited to come back and compete."
Caroline Marks has been a busy 14-year-old. Traveling to Greece, then to Australia for the World Junior Championship, the San Clemente transplant out of Melbourne, Florida finally got a chance to rest up at home -- where she had a breakout performance. Notching a big Round 1 win to open up her 2017 season, Marks now has her eyes set on a chance to win her first QS event.
"I'm just psyched to be surfing after being really sick yesterday so it's a great day today. I love surfing heats and came down to watch my brother earlier today to support him and get a feel for conditions which was nice. After not really having a break at the end of last year with a lot of traveling it was great to go home and spend some time with my family. I've been trying new boards, same Chemistry models, but just having fun with them and little tweaks to see what works even better so I'm excited to get this year started."
Marks hasn't been the only one out adventuring. Mainei Kinimaka recently got out of her home Hawaiian island chain to see a much colder part of the world with the likes of Steph Gilmore, Monyca Eleogram, and 6-time World Champ Stephanie Gilmore. Now, the Hawaiian turns back to the world of competitive surfing with a renewed mindset.
"Norway was beautiful to see and the waves were actually really great so I had an incredible time there with amazing people. Coming back into this I was pretty excited to put the jersey back on even though I was a little nervous, I'm focusing on just having fun. The end of my season was pretty bad and just had a lot of nerves putting a lot of pressure on myself. At the end of the day it's just about enjoying the moment and you can't be mad when you're surfing so I just wanted to come into the year without that stress."
Also moving on to the Quarterfinals -- No. 1 seed Chelsea Tuach, last year's runner-up Tia Blanco, as well as fellow top seeds Kirra Pinkerton, Chelsea Roett and Frankie Harrer.