The final event of the 2019 Women's Qualifying Series (QS), the Port Stephens Toyota Pro presented by Sisstrevolution, has commenced at Birubi Beach in clean three-to-four foot surf. It was a huge day of competition at the QS6,000 event with Rounds 1, 2 and 3 completed.
Continuing her searing form in 2019 was Central Coast prodigy Molly Picklum who won her Round 2 and 3 heats in dominant fashion. Having won an unprecedented five from five Pro Junior events already this year, Picklum has come into the Port Stephens Toyota Pro brimming with confidence and it showed as she won her first-ever QS6,000 event heats. 17-year-old Picklum progresses into Round 4 where she will take on Summer Macedo, Ren Hashimoto and Championship Tour (CT) surfer Paige Hareb.
"I'm so happy to get through Round 3 as I couldn't crack it at the 6000's earlier in the year," Picklum said. "I feel like I'm a much better surfer now and I'm happy. It's showing in my results. I'm so psyched to be into the seeded Round 4 and have the opportunity to surf against the CT surfers. Any opportunity to surf against world-class surfers is great, especially at my age - I can't wait to get out there."
Kiwi competitor Ella Williams is, unfortunately, sitting outside of the qualification bubble in 2019 but is still driven to achieve a solid result to finish of the year. Williams snuck through her opening heat into Round 4 and hopes to go deep into Finals day to ensure a better seed in 2020, particularly ahead of the newly announced WSL Challenger Series.
"I'm stoked to be here at Birubi Beach and getting fun waves in heats," Williams said. "It's good to be back in the rhythm of competition and even though I'm sitting down the rankings I'm still keen to go far in this event and make sure I stay in the top 60. With the Challenger Series events next year that will be important and especially the one at Piha in New Zealand - I'm pretty excited about that. With all of that in mind, I want to go as far as possible here and bank a bunch of points."
Former CT competitor Claire Bevilacqua had had a slow season in 2019, until a few weeks ago when she took out the Cape Naturaliste Pro QS1,000 event at her home beach, Yallingup. Bevilacqua has brought that confidence to the east coast where she posted a solid score in the fun but challenging waves to progress into Round 4 as she hunts for her best result of 2019.
"The waves are actually really good out there," Bevilacqua said. "All of us were nice and spread out so we were just doing our own thing which was nice. I couldn't hear my scores which was kind of a good thing because it kept me calm. My ranking isn't too high this year but I don't mind starting at the bottom and working my way through the heats and getting plenty of practice in the lineup. I'm just stoked to be competing - I'm a really competitive person and that's why I've been doing this for so long. Whether it's a QS1,000 or a 6000 I'm just stoked to be competing."
2018 World Junior Championship runner-up Keala Tomoda-Bannert posted the highest two-wave combination of Round 3. The young Hawaiian had a slow start to the heat but found two decent set waves back-to-back to garner a 13.50 heat total and progress into Round 4.
"I was pretty unaware of my scores and what my opponents were doing so that was a really stressful heat," Tomoda-Bannert said. "I felt like I was keeping busy all heat but couldn't quite put it together. I eventually got those two back-to-back waves and knew they were decent so I could kind of relax after that. This is my first year on the QS so I'm just enjoying learning and progressing."
The 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro pres. by Sisstrevolution women's QS6,000 event will run from November 15 - 17.