While perhaps not as celebrated as much as it should be, Avoca on the Central Coast of NSW is something of a hotbed for elite Australian surfing talent. From core-lord Aussie legends like Shane Powell, Bryce Ellis, Mark Sainsbury and Ross Clarke Jones, to modern era talent like Matt Wilkinson and CT surfers Ace Buchan, Wade Carmichael and Macy Callaghan. Go for a paddle around Avoca and you're bound to bump into someone who can surf the house down and win a heat against the world's best.
And back on the sand, you might also see a guy, holding a clipboard, that some argue is the best surf coach in the game - Glenn "Micro" Hall.
Micro's Surf Academy has its roots in Avoca, and this week he's using the local event as an excuse to bring the team together for a training camp around the competition. His small team alone will see Owen Wright, Conner Coffin, Matt Wilkinson, andBrisa Hennessy inject serious, CT level talent into the field, not to mention his younger stars like Caleb Tancred, Molly Picklum, and Riley Laing also giving the comp a crack. They'll be joined by the likes of Wade Carmichael, Dusty Payne, Ian Gouveia, Sage Erickson, Pauline Ado, Paige Hareb, Bronte Macaulay, and Alana Blanchard, to name but a small few of the surfers filling out a heavy International line-up.
With the event getting upgraded to a QS 3,000 in 2019, the Vissla and Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro will now fill a vital gap for the Qualifying Series in the region.
"QS 3,000s are definitely part of the order," says Micro. "You can't just have the 1,000s and the 6,000s and the 10,000s, you have to have the 3,000s for those guys in that bracket on the rankings to get to that next level. So it's really cool of Surfing NSW and the WSL to put this on. And for us it's special to be on the Central Coast because it gives me the opportunity to bring the surfers in my stable to where I live and run a little training camp out of home and then surf in the event to use it as a warm up for the year."
That pathway from the lower QS events to the pivotal bigger competitions surfers use to get to the CT makes the Vissla and Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro a vital part of the larger process. But it's not just there that QS 3,000s like this one prove crucial.
If we take a look at the surfers who qualified for the 2019's Championship Tour via the QS last year, a grab-bag of them had vital QS 3,000s in their final scores. Jesse Mendes, Deivid Silva, Leo Fioravanti, and Jadson Andre of the men and Paige Hareb, Brisa Hennessy and Silvana Lima of the women would all have failed to make the cut were it not for their results in various lower rung QS 3,000s.
To put it simply, the surfing that goes down at Avoca this week could be the difference between qualifying for the Championship Tour or not.
While the favorites for the event are relatively obvious with CT big-hitters on the entry sheet primed and high level QS surfers knocking on the door behind them, Micro has another surfer from his team that he says could turn heads this week. It comes back to Avoca and its huge surfing community, to a young talent walking in the footsteps of the many gifted surfers who've hailed from this same beach over generations.
"Caleb Tancred's on a crazy little roll at the moment," said Micro. "He's been killing it and it's going to be cool to watch him surf at home in front of all his mates and up against the rest of the team. So it's exciting to see what he does."