The top seeds have hit the water on Day 4 of the Vissla Central Coast Pro with Avoca Beach providing fun but wind affected 2-to-3 foot peaks. With the first few heats of Round 5 came the Men's top seeds and they didn't disappoint, with some huge scores going down in front of the weekend crowds.
Heat 4 of Round 5 was a great indication that the future of Australian Surfing is in great hands with Queensland duo Reef Heazlewood and Liam O'Brien putting on arguably the heat of the event so far. The two upstarts, who have been turning heads for at least the last 6 months, dominated the exchange with O'Brien's razor sharp forehand earning him second place while Heazlewood's explosive backside garnered a 16.03 heat total and the win. Reef looks well on his way to another big result to go with his recent 9th in Brazil and Final appearance at the Volcom Pipe Pro.
"I'm feeling really good this year and I'm having a lot of fun competing," Heazlewood said. "I got really close to qualifying last year so know that it's in me. I feel like my surfing is getting better and better so this could definitely be the year for me. I just need to focus on each event as it comes and enjoy myself. That is really working for me right now so that is what I'm going to keep doing."
CT star Owen Wright got his competitive season off to a start today at Avoca, progressing through his first heat of the Vissla Central Coast Pro QS3,000. Wright came up against fellow South Coaster's Kalani Ball and Ty Watson along with Central Coast super grom Lennox Chell. Wright struggled to get in a good rhythm until late in the heat when he found a couple of rights to find second place. In the end, it was Kalani Ball who took the win and progressed in the top spot.
"It's so great to have a QS3,000 in Australia as it really fills the gap for guys trying to qualify for the CT and improve their seed," Wright said. "I was a bit bummed to come up against my mate Ty Watson as I'd love to see him go far but it was cool to see Kalani get the win. In tough conditions like this, I knew Kalani would be deadly as he has so many tricks and we don't surf conditions like this to often on the CT so it was a real test for me. I'm stoked to be here and supporting these Aussie events and preparing for the season ahead. There is so much great talent coming through in Australia so I'd love to see some of these younger guys and girls go far here at Avoca."
Vissla team-rider Cole Houshmand was fortunate to get a wildcard into Round 5 and the young San Clemente local made it count with a solid performance to clinch the win. Coming up against more senior, seasoned QS competitors, Houshmand seemed unfazed as he ripped into some huge backhand re-entries to comfortably take the heat win.
"I'm so stoked that I got a wildcard into this event," Houshmand said. "It's great that Vissla put money into events like this. A QS3,000 is such an important event for competitors with a lower seed as it really bridges the gap between a 1000 and the 6000 and 10,000 events. I love it in Australia so it's great to be here competing and I'm hoping to post some solid results."
Only a few months after dropping off the elite Championship Tour, Connor O'Leary has made his intentions clear for 2019 and that is to return to the CT by year's end. The former CT Rookie of the Year continued the form that saw him win at the Carve Pro earlier this year, posting an excellent 8.33 on his way to a convincing Round 5 heat win.
"These QS3,000 events are really important for everyone," O'Leary said. "A result here is definitely worthy of being a keeper at the end of the year and could go along way to someone qualifying. It's also just great to get some heat practice in with some of the CT surfers before the major events at Newcastle and Manly. Posting some solid scores felt good so I'm looking forward to the next round and hopefully the finals."
HawaiianImaikalani deVault kept busy in his opening Heat of the Aussie leg posting a number of decent scores on his way to eventually winning with a two-wave total of 13.37. deVault surfed with reckless abandon, slashing and boosting his way into Round 6.
"I get nervous in heats if I don't get a wave early so I just got busy as soon as I could," deVault said. "Luckily the first few waves I took off on allowed a few turns so I got into a bit of a rhythm. There is definitely a bit of punch in the surf which I really think suits my style of surfing."