With a shift in conditions at Birubi Beach, the Port Stephens Toyota NSW Pro has moved back to the primary location for Day 2 of competition. Some of the world's best female surfers went ballistic in pumping 3-to-4 foot waves for the final Women's QS event of the season.
Local favorite Philippa Anderson moved a step closer to achieving her dream of qualifying for the CT with a win in her first heat of the event. Currently sitting at 12th on the QS, Anderson will need a massive result at Port Stephens, but managed to edge closer to her goal, taking her opening heat with a heat total of 11.47.
"It's always nerve racking before your first heat of the event," Anderson said. "You never want to get knocked out early so I'm really happy to get the win. It was really hard to find a good score out there in that heat, the girls before us were dropping solid scores so I knew good ones were out there. The waves are great today we're all really blessed to have these conditions. Now that the first heat is done I would love to keep going deeper into the draw."
Another young Aussie who is on the brink of qualification is current World Junior Champion Macy Callaghan. Callaghan dominated her first heat, posting two solid scores for a heat total of 14.87 to move into Round Five. Although the young Central Coaster is trying to ignore her rakings situation, she is all too aware of how important the few heats will be.
"I'm trying not to think about it all but it is still in the back of my head," Callaghan said. "I just want to surf heats here like I would at any other contest but it is definitely hard to ignore. That was a really fun heat, the waves are so good right now which is always good for an event, especially one that is this important to everyone."
One of the first WSL Championship Tour (CT) competitors to hit the water was French surfer Johanne Defay. Defay was stoked to return to the area where earlier this year she won the Anditi Women's Pro in Newcastle. The natural-footer continued her form on Australia's East Coast posting a heat total of 15.27 for a powerful display of forehand surfing during which was her first ever surf at Birubi.
"I have great memories from this area so it is really nice to comeback and surf at this new event," Defay said. "That was actually my first surf here because it's been too big here over the last few days so I wasn't sure how it would go. I'm really hoping for a good result here as my last few QS events haven't been the best. I'm having a great time in Port Stephens it is an amazing coastline."
Another CT surfer to dominate her Round Four heat was Californian Sage Erickson. The super stylish natural-footer is currently sitting in 7th on the Jeep Leaderboard and is at Port Stephens for time in the water as opposed to a big result. Erickson posted a solid heat total of 16.43 to progress into Round five.
"This is a fun event for me," Erickson said. "I've had such a good year competitively and I wanted more so I thought what better place to come for a QS than Australia. It's great to come and catch up with some friends here. It is a super important event for a lot of girls here who are looking to qualify. I have been in that position a few times so I know how they are feeling. I wish the best for all of the girls surfing here."
The most impressive performance of the event so far came in Heat 3 of Round Four when Holly Wawn took to the water and got busy. Wawn surfed out of her skin posting a two wave heat total of 17.50 for her super powerful forehand attack. After recently returning from an injury, Wawn is stoked to get a solid start to the event.
"That was really fun out there," Wawn said. "I haven't had the best year competitively so it's nice to get a solid heat win. I had a pretty quick recovery physically from my injury but it has taken a little longer to ease back into competition. I'm hoping the waves stay like this for my next heat."