Upon arrival at the beach on the morning of Day 2 it seemed Maroubra was continuing to provide the goods for the Carve Pro Qualifying Series 1,000-level event. It was glistening clean and the waves were peaky, 3-to-4 feet, and it seemed it was going to be a magical day of competition. Unfortunately for all involved, the dreamy conditions slowly returned to a classic East Coast Australia summer slop, the type of conditions synonymous with this time of year. But this mattered not as a pack of eager QS battlers ripped into the peaks that Maroubra provided, with Aussies Shane Holmes and Vittoria Farmer dominating the early rounds of competition.
Central Coast powerhouse Shane Holmes had a seemingly constant run of injuries throughout 2016 and '17 seasons. Having not competed since the middle of last year, he was apprehensive coming into the Carve Pro and was unsure if he still had his competitive nerve. Although he was nervous, he looked to be fine as he posted the highest heat total of the event so far. His two-wave combination of 15.50 came from his trademark display of power hacks and solid on rail surfing.
"I was really nervous before that heat which is strange for me," Holmes said. "The waves were looking really fun and I had a solid plan. Just before my heat the wind came up from the northeast and my plan went out the window. I eventually found a couple of decent waves so it all ended up working out, just not the way I thought it would. I'm so happy to be back in the water after doing my knee an then my shoulder. I feel like when the waves are small I can still find the power source and throw a lot of spray which the judges really like -- I feel comfortable competing in all sorts of conditions."
As the day continued and swell began to fade, the action stayed fierce as women's Round Two hit the water. Vittoria Farmer and Kirra-Belle Olsson put on an epic display in Heat 3, with the two dropping excellent 8.50 point rides early in the heat. It then became a race for a backup score, which was eventually won by Farmer who finished the heat with a two-wave total of 15.00. Olsson progressed behind her in second place.
"It was pretty slow out there so getting that solid score straight away was an awesome way to start," Farmer said. "Kirra-Belle having the same score meant that it was a total battle of the second wave which was cool. The waves were super fun when they came but it was really slow."
The opening heat of the day saw Victorian Cody Robinson return to competition for the first time in almost a year. Robinson took some time off the QS in 2017 to regroup after a string of average results. He's hoping to stay a little more consistent in 2018 and today he kicked off the season according to plan winning his opening heat with a total of 13.75 (out of a possible 20). Robinson even posted an excellent single wave score of 8.10 (out of a possible 10) for a number of backhand re-entries.
"It felt weird to be competing again I definitely felt a little rusty but it's all good because I'm just warming up," Robinson said. "I want to hang on to my seed and maybe head to the Indonesia QS events later in the year so this is the best place to get the ball rolling on that. I'm just going to see how I go in the next few months and try and enjoy myself. The waves have been really fun which is all you can ask for in a contest so I'm stoked."
Having spent the best part of a month in Australia after competing at the recent Jeep World Junior Championship in Kiama, South Africa's Adin Masencamp is feeling comfortable in his home away from home. Mesencamp is working on his QS seeding and hoping to break into the top 100 by the middle of the year. A heat win for his first QS of the season is just the start he was looking for.
"The waves are so fun today -- just head high and glassy, really perfect for an event," Masencamp said. "This beach is similar to places at home so I feel pretty comfortable here and it's my second time in Australia so it's all very familiar, I'm really getting into the rhythm of this place. I'm doing this run of QS events in Australia and am hoping to improve my seed heading into the mid-year cutoff."
One of the major international threats at the Carve Pro is Californian dynamo Alyssa Spencer. Spencer had just come of an equal 9th at the recent Jeep World Junior Championship in Kiama and was keen to impress early at Maroubra. Thinks didn't go according to plan however with the laser sharp goofy foot struggling to find a decent wave. Then with only a few minutes remaining, Spencer found a right and went to town on it, earning herself an 8.50 and the heat win.
"I spent a lot of time watching the waves and knew there were some good looking rights coming through," Spencer said. "I was planning on waiting for a right and it just wasn't coming, I knew it would eventually -- so I was staying pretty patient. Luckily I did, because I eventually found the one I was waiting for."
Event No.1 seed Ellie Brooks decided to turn down a spot at the Ron Jon Florida Pro QS6,000 to surf at some QS1,000 event at home. This could be a great tactic for Brooks granted she makes it deep into the draw here at Maroubra. Early in the heat Brooks seemed unable to find a score of significance and began to question her decision until right on time, a set popped up in front of Brooks and gave her two perfect sections. She posted a heat total of 11.85 and took the heat win.
"I was going to head over to Florida and then decided against it last minute," Brooks said. "It was a big call but there are other 6,000 events later in the year so it seemed silly to leave home when we have a bunch of events happening here. Staying here has given me the top seed for this event, which is cool but also brings expectation, which makes me a little nervous. It's all good though, I'm here with my boyfriend and we are having a good time so it's nice."