The QS3,000 Seat Pro Netanya got underway on the opening day of the event's waiting period with glassy peaks in the three foot range. Lefts and rights broke along the pristine white-sand beach of Kontiki all day and provided plenty of high-scoring opportunities for surfers in Round 1.
Has anyone outside of Australia heard the name before? Probably not. Will you anytime soon? We bet you will!
The 18 year-old from the Sunshine Coast stole the show in Heat 12 of the opening round with a clinic in the punchy little peaks of Netanya. Stocca started with a solid combo of forehand power turns on a right and dropped a 9.00 on his third wave. Pressure-free he continued to pick the right ones and just surfed for fun, racking up another 7+ score and two 8s. Final tally 17.40, but more importantly a loud message to the other surfers in the field, the young Aussie has come to battle!
"Last year was my first year on the QS and this year I'm going to really give it a good crack and try to get my ranking up a bit," he said. "It took me 35 hours to get here and I'm really pleasantly surprised. The waves are very similar to what I surf at home and it didn't get too long to get used to them. I was loving it out there, I got that first good wave with two turns to take the pressure off and then I was just having fun!"
A (dare-we-say) veteran on the QS, the T-Street local is giving another go at the qualifying race and decided to launch his effort in unknown territory. Arriving just in time for the opening day, Crane did what he's best known for, went above the lip, and took an easy win into Round 2.
"I just landed here this morning, conditions are beautiful and people are very friendly so I'm already enjoying it!" he said. "There are a lot of waves out there so there's no reason to be nervous to fall on a wave, you get plenty of opportunities so I just tried some airs and wanted to have fun. This year one of my main goals is to try and qualify. It's a long year and it's super cool to start it somewhere as cool as here that feels a bit like a vacation - surf trip."
In an all-Israeli heat, Keren took the win and scored the local contingent's strongest performance of opening day. An expatriate for a little over a year with heaps of surfing in the tank, Karen came back on home turf fired up to perform and show the local crowds what he's made of. A two-time 17th place finisher in Netanya, the goal is clear for Keren: break that Round 4 glass ceiling.
"It was a super fun heat and good to release the stress," Keren said. "I've been supervising a big surf club in Central America and surfing a lot so I'm feeling great at the moment. It's good to be back home in Israel and I'm happy to compete here for a third time."
With surf decreasing in the afternoon, the event was stopped after Round 1 completed and could potentially run again tomorrow with Round 2 if the new swell arrives in time. Next Call 9 a.m (local).
Tune in from January 10-19, 2019 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here!