Moderate onshore winds and a slight drop in swell size has seen competitors at the Vissla and Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro dealing with tough conditions on Day 3 of competition. Regardless of this, some of the world's best put on more show-stopping performances, setting up an epic weekend of surfing at Avoca.
Kiwi competitor Billy Stairmand set a rampant pace from the first heat of the day posting the highest two-wave combination of the event so far, a 16.50 for some epic front side power hooks. Fresh off a Semifinal finish at the Mothernest Great Lakes Pro QS1,000, Stairmand is feeling fresh and ready to make a statement during this year's Aussie leg.
"It's good to be back competing in Australia," Stairmand said. "I've started the year off in a good position with a 9th and a 3rd at the first 2 events so I'm feeling really good and have some great equipment. There are a lot of big names in this event but I have had plenty of experience surfing against the Championship Tour guys so I feel like that will help me as I progress through this event."
Perennial qualification threat Mitch Coleborn finds himself with a lower seed in 2019 after missing a few major events last season. The super talented goofy-footer is in need of a few solid results in the next three events if he's a chance of mounting a campaign for the 2020 Championship Tour. Fortunately for Coleborn he was able to pull some last-second heroics to take the win and progress into Round 4.
"I've got a really low seed this year so there is a lot riding on my results at these next few events," Coleborn said. "The waves got really tough to read in that heat so things definitely didn't go to plan but I lucked into a decent one at the end and got two turns away. Currently I'm sitting too low on the rankings to surf in the QS10,000 events which is the first time in a long time for me so I'm really keen to get a big result here and start the year well."
16-year-old Central Coast native Molly Picklum continued to build on the momentum that's seen her claim two WSL Pro Junior victories in 2019, taking a win over 2019 Championship Tour surfer Paige Hareb in Round 3. Picklum synced her powerful forehand repertoire with the punchy right-handers on offer, nailing a handful of exciting and powerful turns, which were duly rewarded with a decent 13.40 two-wave heat total. Picklum will now face Tia Blanco, Leilani McGonagle and Ellie Brooks in Round 4.
"Things definitely felt like they clicked in that heat," said Picklum. "The right-handers that were breaking deeper on the bank began to pulse and I was able to find a few decent waves. I felt as though my earlier heats were a bit slower and I wasn't able to find rhythm, so to have a heat like that definitely helps my confidence."
Having recently fallen off the elite Championship Tour last season, California's Sage Erickson is looking for a massive result at Avoca to get her re-qualification campaign underway. The former top 10 surfer is familiar with the Central Coast spending half her year at nearby Copacabana Beach with her boyfriend each year. This comfort and familiarity shone through as Erickson posted a 15.67 heat total to progress into Round 4.
"I've been spending a lot of time in this area for the last 10 years so it feels like a second home for sure," Erickson said. "The waves back in California haven't been great for the last few weeks so I've been so excited to get down here and surf. I think that excitement definitely came through in my surfing during that heat - it felt really nice to post some bigger numbers to start the year off."
2017 Championship Tour Rookie of the Year Bronte Macaulay got her 2019 season off to a great start, taking out Heat 9 of Round 3. Although Macaulay came away with the top progressing spot, she felt lucky to make it through her heat and into Round 4 with the 20-minute heats not giving West Australian much time to post two scores.
"On the CT we have 30 or 35 heats so that 20 minutes just flew by," Macaulay said. "It definitely wasn't the start to the year I was hoping for but I'll take the win. This is a pretty intense event as a good result could really help someone's seasons which makes the field so much hungrier."
Competition will continue tomorrow with the remaining top seeds and some of the biggest names in surfing expected to hit the water from 7:30 am local time.