The professional surfing action in New South Wales has continued as the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 6,000 event kicks off at Manly Beach. The action was on tap as 24 heats of men's Round One was completed in building and blustery 4-to-6 foot surf.
Fresh off a runner-up finish yesterday at Newcastle Surfest, Barron Mamiya from Hawaii was the one to watch in men's Round One. The powerful naturalfooter struggled to get going and was left chasing Sunshine Coaster Reef Heazlewood for the majority of the heat. Eventually, it was Heazlewood who won the heat with a two-wave total of 12.73 (out of a possible 20) just ahead of Mamiya, who took the second progressing spot.
"It was always going to be hard to overcome Barron after his performance at Surfest last week," Heazlewood said. "I knew if I was on the right waves I would be able to get solid scores so I just focused on myself and what waves I needed to be on. I have been here for a couple of days and the waves today are the best I've seen yet, so all of the competitors are really excited to get out there."
Haling from France, Marc Lacomare is no stranger to chunky, beachbreak conditions, which was evident in his opening heat performance at Manly. Lacomare waited patiently for a set and eventually found a right-hander to open up two massive backhand hooks and post an excellent 9.00-point ride to put himself in a commanding position. He then backed it up with a 7.43 to comfortably win the heat and progress into Round Two.
"I'm really happy to have that first heat out of the way, it is always the most stressful," Lacomare said. "It's great that there is some solid size out there and the waves are really fun. I always see guys getting over-excited at the start of heats and trying to catch too many waves. I really focused on staying patient and trying to find a set wave that looked good, and it paid off as I was much more relaxed after posting such a good wave score."
After winning the Seat Pro Netanya pres. by Reef QS 3,000 in Israel a month ago, South African Matthew McGillivray is building momentum heading into the second QS 6,000 of the year. After seeing friend and countryman Michael February make a solid push for qualification in 2017, McGillivray is keen to continue his own form in 2018 and represent his flag well at the top end of the QS rankings.
"I feel really confident after taking out that QS 3,000 in Israel," McGilivray said. "It has definitely given me some momentum so I just need to harness that, especially at this event. It was definitely inspirational for all of the South African competitors to see Michael February last year. Seeing him get so close and get a start in the CT [WSL Championship Tour] events is awesome and has definitely spurred me on to go bigger and better than ever. The waves were building throughout my heat, so I'm hoping it stays solid for the next few days."
After a number of years away from competitive surfing, former CT competitor Raoni Monteiro returned in late 2017 to win the Siargao Surfing Cup QS 3,000 at Cloud 9 in the Philippines. Through this he was awarded a higher seed and is now competing at the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro. Although he is keeping a low profile, his intentions were clear in his Round One performance: He wants to be back on the CT. A heat win to kick off 2018 was a good way to start things for the Brazilian powerhouse, who ended his Round One encounter with a combined score of 14.57.
"I don't want to make a big deal of it, but my major goal is to get back onto the CT," Monteiro said. "It was good to win in the Philippines and know that I still have it but this is a big event and the field is full of amazing surfers so it will be hard to do well. The waves are great today which always makes competing better, I just hope they stay solid and I can keep surfing the way I like to."