An unexpected increase in swell has provided more awesome conditions for competitors on Day 2 of the Vissla and Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro. The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 event ran through another huge day of surfing with the completion of Round 2 and half of Round 3.
Former World Junior Champion Vahine Fierro got her 2019 campaign off to a flying start, posting the equal highest heat total of the event so far. Fierro's 15.00 point (out of a possible 20) two wave combination came from her solid backhand attack in the clean 3 foot waves at Avoca. The young French competitor was glad to get her season off on the right foot after a tough year of competition in 2018.
"I had some great results in 2017 but struggled a bit last year," Fierro said. "I really want to get back on a roll in 2019 so this is a great start. That was a tricky heat as I started off taking some poor waves and only getting one turn in but I kept active and eventually found that 8.17 (out of a possible 10) which was good. Australia is one of my favourite places to come in the world so I'm so happy to be back here competing."
Brazilian prodigy Taina Hinkel continued her love affair with Australia, equaling Fierro's high 15.00 heat total. Hinkel utilised lefts and rights to put her opponents in a combination situation (needing two scores) and progress into Round 3. After some huge experiences in 2018, Hinkel believes 2019 could be a great year for her career.
"This is my first time to Avoca and it's really beautiful," Hinkel said. "I love it here in Australia - the waves are fun and the water is beautiful. After a third at the World Junior Championships and wildcards into the CT and Founders Cup events I got a lot of confidence out of 2018. I'm feeling really good ahead of this year and can't wait to see what 2019 brings."
The upset of the day came went the event's reigning winner Sarah Baum was eliminated in Heat 4 of Round 2. Baum was sitting in a commanding position for the majority of the heat until Cannelle Bulard took the lead. Needing to hang onto second place to progress, Baum had to sit and watch as Aussie Freya Prumm took off on a set and belted two huge front side turns to post a 6.90 after the buzzer and take the win. Prumm and Bulard will progress while Baum is eliminated.
"I knew in the last few minutes I had to be patient and wait for a wave that could give me the score," Prumm said. "I almost took off on a couple of smaller waves but decided to wait and luckily in the dying seconds that set wave came so I was super lucky. Coming up against Sarah (Baum) is tough as she is one of my favourite surfers and is a great competitor. It's a shame to see her go down as I feel like if everything came together for her she would qualify for sure."
Similarly, local legend Shane Holmes will be unable to defend his title at Avoca as he went down to Gold Coaster Mitch Parkinson in Heat 4 of Round 3. Holmes failed to get firing as Parkinson took to the skies with ease to post a winning heat total of 13.96 and progress into Round 4.
"I've been surfing Cyclone Oma all week just getting barreled an not doing turns so it was strange surfing smaller waves again today," Parkinson said. "I never thought much about taking on the defending event winner as anyone in this contest is a threat. I find it easier to land airs than turns sometimes so I figured it would be easy to post scores in the air. If it feels right I'll just keep doing that in Round 4."
North Narabeen goofy-footer David Vlug put on a commanding performance in his opening heat posting a 14.50 two-wave combination for a searing display of backhand surfing. Although he was the highest seed in his heat, Vlug never discounted his opponents, stating that no heat in a QS3,000 should be taken lightly.
"It takes a lot of hard work to build your seed up so it's nice to start in a later round of an event like this," Vlug said. "But once you're in that position you can't take your opponents lightly as they had to take people down to get into that Round. I'm stoked I got to post a couple of solid scores and make it through. The waves are really fun and look like continuing like this throughout the week so it should be an awesome event."
A special mention must go to Kiwi Elliott Paerata-Reid who took out the AirAsia Wave of The Day for an impressive front side full rotation air-reverse.