Manly Beach has delivered great conditions for the fifth day of competition at the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro and Sydney Women's Pro presented by Sisstrevolution. The field has been narrowed and the stage has been set for an epic weekend of surfing at one of surfing's most iconic locations.
Hawaiian Malia Manuel has had more success at Manly than anyone else in the draw having Won the event in 2017 and finaled in 2016 and 2018 and it's safe to say the current World No. 9 feels comfortable on this stretch of sand. After the majority of her fellow CT competitors were eliminated in Round 3, Manuel is all to aware that to find herself another spot in the Finals, she'll have to overcome a number of hungry QS surfers to get there.
"It was crazy to see all of those CT surfers get eliminated yesterday but not really a shock," Manuel said. "A similar thing happened at Newcastle and although it's a shame for those surfers it's great to see the next crop stepping up and giving themselves a shot at qualification. It definitely keeps me on my toes and pushes me which is only a good thing. I've got great memories here at Manly so it's good to be back and I'm always pretty relaxed here -- it's a great place."
After a break out year on the elite Championship Tour in 2018, Tatiana Weston-Webb is in the strongest form of her young career. The Brazilian goofy-footer displayed this in her Round 4 heat at Manly, posting solid numbers to dominate Sunshine Coast duo Isabella Nichols and Dimity Stoyle. The current world No. 4 looks to be the one to beat at Manly as she progresses into Round 4.
"In my opinion surfing QS events is a totally different game to surfing on the CT," Weston-Webb said. "You really have to change up your tactics for the four person heats and some of the tough conditions. Plus the girls are really pushing it on the QS so it's really tough to stand out. I noticed the judges were rewarding big single moves so I really tried to go big and not worry to much if I couldn't fit another move in."
Young Aussie Sophie McCullough has continued her searing form at the Sydney Women's Pro presented by Sisstrevolution, dominating the goofy-footed duo of Bianca Buitendag and Bronte Macaulay. McCullough has locked in a spot in Round 5 as she is one heat win away from her best result in a QS6,000 event. To get there she'll have to overcome good friend and event stand out Isabella Nichols in their Round 5 matchup.
2018 was a tough year for CT rookie Ian Gouveia as he struggled to make a heat on the big stage and found himself outside the Qualification bracket at years end. Gouveia now finds himself on the QS, fighting to get back to the CT but hasn't had the start to the season he'd been hoping for. The 26-year-old has begun to find his feet in Manly, progressing into Round 5 with a solid performance on Day 5.
"Last year was tough but I learned a lot," Gouveia said. "It was hard having those losses but it gave me such great experience and It can definitely help me get back there. I'm stoked to make that heat as I'm moving closer to a good result and I haven't had one yet this year so I'm really happy. I'm still young and am keen to get back on the CT and I think that all of the lessons I was taught last year will come into use for me competing at events like this which is really great."
2019 WSL Championship Tour debutant Soli Bailey (Byron Bay, NSW) made his mark on round four, taking the top honours in the opening heat of the round. Bailey's lightfooted approach paid dividends as he annihilated an array of oncoming sections on long righthanders. Bailey will face fellow NSW north coast surfer Stuart Kennedy in round five.
"I actually didn't surf in any man-on-man heats last year, so it feels good to make it to that stage here at Manly. I hope it will be good to get that preparation prior to Snapper Rocks," said Bailey. "I was a bit bummed with how I surfed at Newcastle for Surfest, but I've actually have never gone too well at this event and Newcastle, so to now make it to the next round feels great."
There was a large contingent of Aussie surfers that progressed into Round 5 including Matt Banting, Liam O'Brien, Jordan Lawler, Stuart Kennedy, Nicholas Squires, Jacob Willcox along with Bronte Macaulay, Keely Andrew and Isabella Nichols.
Other standout performances came from a widely international field that included Ian Gentil (HAW), Thiago Camarao (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Alyssa Spencer (USA), Brisa Hennessy (CRI) and Gabriela Bryan (HAW).