A field of almost 100 of the world's best female surfers have touched down in New South Wales ahead of the 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro presented by Sisstrevolution, WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 6000 event.
Being the final event on the 2019 Qualifying Series it will be the last chance for competitors to gain all-important QS points as they look to book themselves a spot on the elite Championship Tour (CT) in 2020.
Former CT competitor Chelsea Tuach has struggled to find her way back to the ‘dream tour' since being relegated at the end of her rookie season in 2016. The Barbados representative has arrived in Port Stephens sitting just one spot outside of the qualification cut off meaning a solid result here will almost guarantee her a spot back where she belongs in 2020.
"Coming into this event I'm sitting quite a few spots higher than at the same time over the last few years so I'm definitely feeling a bit more pressure this time around," Tuach said. "I love having that pressure though because this is where I want to be at this end of the season. Since falling off the CT at the end of 2016 it's taken me a few years to find my feet and get back in a position to qualify so I'm stoked to be going for it this year. I also know if it doesn't happen this year, it wasn't meant to be, and I'll come into the QS in 2020 with a much stronger seed."
Former WSL Australia / Oceania Regional QS Champion Mikaela Greene has only just returned to competitive surfing after taking almost two years off to star in a reality renovation television show. Greene was awarded the wildcard into the Port Stephens Toyota Pro and although she isn't in range of qualifying, she is stoked to get the opportunity to mix it with the best as she warms up for the 2020 QS season.
"I've got no pressure on me coming into this event which feels really nice," Greene said. "Obviously I want to do well and the better I do the better my seed will be in 2020 but it's nice knowing that my year won't be decided by this contest. I'm a really competitive person so it feels amazing to be back at a surfing event and preparing to compete. I can't wait to get the jersey on and get my feet back in the wax and play some part in the qualification race over the next few days."
Having already guaranteed her spot as a rookie on the 2020 CT, Isabella Nichols comes into the final event of the 2019 QS season feeling far more relaxed than previous years. With goal number 1 taken care of, the 2016 WSL World Junior Champion is now solely focussed on a win at Birubi Beach his weekend.
"It's nice to come into this event without really needing a result," Nichols said. "Winning the entire QS would be awesome and there are three of us that are really close, so I'd need a win here to do that. I'd like to win the event and it's definitely the goal but there are so many hungry competitors here, so it won't be easy. There is so much riding on this event and I definitely think it is the most important of the year for the women - I'm nervous for all of the girls that are so close to qualifying. I can't wait to watch it all unfold over the weekend."
With 6000 points on offer, anyone in the top 30 has a mathematical chance at clinching one of the 6 spots on offer meaning the scenarios will be ever-changing throughout the weekend. That coupled with appearances from CT surfers including Bronte Macaulay, Paige Hareb, Sage Erickson, Nikki Van Dijk, and Macy Callaghan to name a few will make the 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro one of the most exciting events on the WSL calendar.
The 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro pres. by Sisstrevolution women's QS6,000 event will run from November 15 - 17. To watch the event live, head to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the free WSL App.