A super Saturday at Maroubra Beach has seen the field narrowed even further at the Carve Pro QS1,000 event. With slightly bumpy 2-to-3 foot waves on offer, men's and women's Round Three were both completed setting the stage for Finals day at one of Sydney's most iconic surfing hubs.
2017 Carve Pro Women's runner-up Kobie Enright made her intentions clear in her Round Three heat posting an event high total of 17.50. Her excellent total came from a strong backhand performance on the small fast lefthanders on offer. She then went on to win her Quarterfinal and book into the Semis. After coming just short of victory last year, the young Tweed Heads local is aiming for one better in 2018.
"To start my season with a win at this event would be incredible," Enright said. "I don't want to get ahead of myself at the moment I just want to take it one heat at a time. A lot of the higher seeded girls are in Florida at the QS 6,000 so this is a great opportunity to make heats and gain some momentum heading into 2018. I'm just having fun here and am stoked to be back in a jersey - I'm pumped for this year for sure."
Women's top seed Ellie Brooks was a shock elimination in Quarterfinal Three when she came up against event dark horse Sophia Chapman. Brooks had been surfing well all event but was put on the ropes early by Chapman, who opened with a couple of mid-ranges scores. She then posted an excellent 8.25 for a long right-hander, which left Brooks hunting for a high score. She was unable to find it and was eliminated in equal 5th place.
"I'm really excited to be in the Semifinals," Chapman said. "I didn't even realize she was the top seed and had never surfed against her so didn't know what to expect. I try not to pay attention to that sort of stuff and surf every heat the same. I can't wait to surf on Finals day."
The first female competitor to book herself a spot into the Semifinals was young Central Coast goofyfooter Kirra-Belle Olsson. Olsson has been in excellent form in 2018 finishing in third place at a recent Pro Junior event at Bells Beach and has now guaranteed herself another third place or better at Maroubra. She overcame Californian Standout Alyssa Spencer in Quarterfinal One with a winning heat total of 13.85.
"This year my main focus is the Junior Qualifying Series," Olsson said. "If I do well at this contest that's awesome, but I'm not chasing QS points this year. The waves are pretty fun today and It looks like holding in tomorrow so it should be a pretty exciting day of competition."
Novacastrian powerhouse Jackson Baker had the pleasure of taking on one of his childhood heroes and former elite Championship Tour competitor Nathan Hedge in Round Three. Baker was aware of Hedge's fiery demeanor and was excited to embrace it. With small weak waves on offer it seemed the light and agile Hedge would have the upper hand but Baker had other ideas throwing down his own brand of heavy-footed surfing to dominate the heat with a winning two wave total of 15.25. Hedge was eliminated from the event while Che Allen finished in the second progressing spot.
"I was watching the conditions before my heat and did not think it was going to go to well for me," Baker said. "I just went out and wanted to enjoy surfing a heat against Hedgey. He has been a hero of mine since I was twelve and I always looked up to his style and power. Winning a heat against him is definitely an amazing experience. I'm really happy with how I surfed today and would love to keep the momentum going throughout this event and the rest of the QS season."
Feeling the support of the local crowd, Maroubra natives Jackson Giles and former CT competitor Blake Thornton went toe-to-toe at their local break, trading a barrage of impressive scores. Giles, who is coached by Thornton managed to gain the upper hand over his mentor, thanks to a decent 15.75 two-wave heat for an array of giant backside snaps. Both surfers will appear again in Round Five.
"Having the support of the local surfers down here is such a good feeling," said Giles. "Blake is actually my coach and being a former Championship Tour surfer he's given me so many good tips on how to improve. I guess they're working (laughs). Hopefully I can keep the ball rolling and post a good result on my home turf tomorrow."
Having spent the last three weeks in Australia following the World Junior Championship in Kiama, Cole Houshmand has developed a knowledge of the shifty Australian beach breaks. Houshmand put on a solid display of power turns on the wedgy left shorebreak to claim the victory in this Round Four exchange with a total of 14.60.
"I'm stoked to move into Round Five. I had a good result here last year, so hopefully I can better it," said Houshmand. "The waves have been really fun over this event, so it makes the victories even sweeter. I've been here since January 1st, surfing in Kiama and Maroubra so I've managed to figure the banks out and a lot of the conditions. I can't wait for tomorrow."