It's been a tough day of competition at Manly for the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro with surfers dealing with small, wind-affected waves for the sixth day of the Qualifying Series 6,000 event. Although wave heights were low, the stakes were high as 16 of the world's best booked themselves a spot in the Quarterfinals.
Young Sunshine Coast goofy-foot Reef Heazlewood guaranteed himself a career-best result, overcoming Beyrick De Vries in their Round Five match-up. Beyrick, carrying solid form from the recent Newcastle event, surfed fast in the small conditions to post two average scores. But it was Reef's repertoire of maneuvers in the small surf that really was the benchmark as he won the heat with a total of 14.33.
"That was a pretty intense heat," he said. "There was a lot of jostling for position but I eventually just tried to do my own thing. It was pretty hard to tell which waves were the good ones, so I just kept rolling on the ones that looked like they might have some shape. This will be my best result in a QS 6,000 and I suppose if I keep surfing well and making heats, qualification could be on the cards. But that's a long way away and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself but, it would be sick to be in that position at the end of the season."
WSL Championship Tour Rookie Michael Rodrigues felt right at home in the small wind-affected conditions. Coming up against countryman Wiggolly Dantas, Michael was unstoppable, finding power in the waves that no one else could. He miraculously posted an excellent heat total of 17.76 to progress into the Quarters while Wiggolly was eliminated in equal 9th.
"This place is like Brazil for me," Michael said. "Small waves and lots of friends on the beach, I feel at home. For me it doesn't matter about the size of the waves. It's hard for other competitors but I find it super fun. As soon as I saw the waves I knew they were perfect for aerials and I was confident I'd be able to surf well."
In the women's, Championship Tour competitor and the event's top seed Nikki Van Dijk posted her strongest performance of the week, taking down Hawaiian CT veteran Coco Ho. Coco was the form surfer of the event having taken out the QS 6,000 in Newcastle last week.
"You can never get down about the waves being like this during an event," Nikki said. "We are all in the same position and have to deal with it so it is best to stay positive. It could be totally flat so I'm just thankful we have something to surf. I don't change my preparation too much I just try and stay light, surf a lighter board and keep nimble is the major focus."
The defending champ in Manly, Malia Manuel showed she could carry the same form despite the drastic difference in swell from 2017. Malia came up against a blisteringly in form Kirra-Belle Olsson in Round Five and posted a moderate but sufficient 10.83 two-wave heat total to cement a spot into tomorrow's Quarterfinals.
"This is definitely the round you want to get through," she said. "When the waves are this small, there's so many elements you need to get right, you need luck, you need to play the priority game, your preparation and you need to ensure you get the best waves. Thankfully it went my way this time."