1. Taking the Qualifying Series Seriously
"I was going to bed early and eating well and taking it all seriously, so to see all of that pay off is awesome," said Yago Dora after his victory at the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro. "The last few years I have been really focused on doing trips and filming for movies and not really competition. This year I want to change that and compete and have a go at qualifying."
It's perhaps ironic, in the end, that the 20-year-old won the Final surfing in freesurfing mode, his sky-high airs and corked reverses scoring the highest heat total of the whole event and making him an early favorite for elite tour qualification.
2.Not Taking the QS Seriously
On the flip side, tour veteran Mitch Coleborn has decided to take the opposite approach. "The last few years I have chased the QS really hard and put a lot of pressure on myself," he said after an early-round win. "This year I want to take a more relaxed approach and try and enjoy myself a little more and just have fun with it." Now beginning his ninth full year on tour (coming close to qualifying on more than one occasion), Coleborn's new approach netted him a third place and 3500 keeper QS points.
3. Callaghan's Hot Streak Continues
Sixteen-year-old Macy Callaghan's 2017 streak has been well documented. She won the World Junior Championship in January, before claiming victories in two QS1000 events during the Australian leg last month. However, the Anditi Women's Pro was always going to be a bigger test, as the QS6000 featured many of the world's best surfers. Callaghan again passed that test with ease, however, defeating CT surfers Sally Fitzgibbons and Bronte Macaulay en route to the Semifinals. Her third-place finish pushed her to No. 1 on the QS rankings and closer to what looks like an increasingly possible spot on the Championship Tour (CT).
4. Defay Cracks The QS Code
"I have never won a QS event before so to win the first one of the season is amazing," said Johanne Defay after her win Anditi Women's Pro. "I have had a few close calls with requalifying in the past so this result will mean I can relax a little." While Defay did win her second CT last year at the Fiji Pro on the way to a career best No. 5 overall finish, her victory in Newcastle has the added bonus of relieving pressure as she goes into her fourth season at the elite level.
5. Newcastle Waits Another Year for Hometown Hero
It wasn't just Ryan Callinan that was waiting anxiously on the beach for a score after his Round Five match up with Willian Cardoso. The whole of Newcastle were also willing-on the judges to award the 5.94 required for the affable goofyfooter's wave (caught with less than a minute to go). In the 32-year history of the event no Newcastlian has ever won the title, and Callinan is perhaps the town's only real hope. The score came in at 5.67, however. Callinan was out. He can now pack his board bag and drive the 100 miles south to Manly, ready for another chance at the Australian Open of Surfing. But the City of Newcastle now has another 12 -month wait to see if they can celebrate their first ever hometown hero.