The top seeds in the 2019 Carve Pro WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 rated event hit the water today in what was an action-packed day of competition in clean two-foot waves.
Connor O'Leary showed why he is a former WSL Championship Tour Rookie Of The Year dominating the punchy left peaks. O'Leary opted to use his extensive aerial repertoire to wow the spectators and judges and as a result posted two near perfect scores; a 9.25 and a 9.50 (out of a possible 10 points). O'Leary's aforementioned score meant that his closest rivals would have required two close-to-perfect waves to take away his lead. As a result, O'Leary was awarded the AirAsia Air Of The Day for his performance.
"The waves were really fun through that heat and the southerly wind blowing into the lefthanders made it perfect for airs," O'Leary said. "It's awesome having an event only 30-minutes from my house and being able to stay in my own bed. I've surfed in this event a few times over the years and it's always been epic with big crowds on the beach and people cheering you on. Hopefully, I can make it to the final day on Australia Day and experience it all."
In what was one of the biggest upsets of the event so far, eastern Sydney surfersPerth Standlick and Max McGuigan faced off against Lennox Head dynamo Jack Murray and former WSL Championship Tour surfer Keanu Asing. With playful low-tide lefts and rights on offer, all surfers managed to find a handful of waves that allowed them to muster up a series of respectable scores. However, with the clock counting down, local lad McGuigan was able to use his priority and pick off one of the better looking waves seen all day to nail an array of turns and sneak a 6.70 wave score that allowed him to jump into the runner-up position and eliminate Asing from the event with Standlick taking the top spot.
"I was just stoked to get through that heat, but to get the upper-hand on someone who has won a CT event and competed on the Championship Tour feels awesome," said McGuigan. "Having all the local guys and my Mum and Dad here cheering for you and the other surfers from Maroubra on our home beach makes it so much sweeter as well. I'm really looking forward to the event tomorrow."
After falling a few spots short of qualifying for the 2019 Championship Tour, both Holly Wawn and Philippa Anderson got their 2019 campaigns off to a flying start in their opening heats. Both surfers synced their expansive repertoires with the fun little waves on offer to continue to keep their dreams alive going into the third day of competition.
"The first event of the year is always a bit of a daunting thing," said Wawn. "I just wanted to start strong in this first event and hopefully post some good scores. I hope we see a bit of an increase of swell for the next round and I can keep my momentum going."