Surfers have battled tough conditions on the second day of competition at the 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro presented by Sisstrevolution WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 6,000 event. With qualification to the elite WSL Championship Tour (CT) in 2020 on the line, dreams and careers were realised or broken as the field was narrowed ahead of Final's Day tomorrow.
Central Coast prodigy Molly Picklum guaranteed her best result at a major QS event, progressing into Round 6 on Finals day. Picklum continued to devastate the field, posting the highest single-wave score of the event so far, an excellent 9.00-point ride (out of a possible 10) for a series of huge frontside power turns. Picklum will take on her fellow North Shelly Boardrider Macy Callaghan in the opening heat of the Round of 16 tomorrow morning. "This is all just a learning experience for me at the moment," Picklum said. "I don't want to get to ahead of myself and just want to enjoy it. I'm really excited to come up against Macy tomorrow. She's a really close friend of mine and someone I look up to for sure. I come to these events to surf against the CT surfers and the best, so I'm stoked to come up against her. I'm hoping the waves are pumping so we go wave for wave, and I can take it to her - may the best surfer win."
2019 hasn't been the best year for results for CT surfer Keely Andrew. Currently, outside of qualification on both the CT and the QS, the Sunshine Coast surfer is in need of a confidence boost, building results to get herself on a roll and lock in her spot at the elite level. Today, Andrew took a step in the right direction, dominating her Round 5 heat to win with a two-wave combination of 15.50 (out of a possible 20). Andrew will now take on Maud Le Car in Round 6 on Finals Day. "That was a real confidence booster for me that heat," Andrew said. "I haven't really had the best year in 2019 so it's nice to win a heat with a solid total, especially in trickly conditions against tough competition. I've done that maths for what I need to do personally to qualify, both on the QS and the CT, and I know what that performance looks like so I'm hoping I can put that performance together tomorrow."
After cementing her position on the 2019 Championship Tour here at Port Stephens last year, Brisa Hennessy has returned to Birubi Beach hoping to achieve the same result. The Costa Rican natural-footer edged closer to qualifying for 2020, earning herself a spot into the sixth round thanks to an impressive 14.40 two-wave heat total in round five, which allowed her to claim the heat ahead of Mahina Maeda (JPN) and Vahine Fierro (PYF). Hennessy will face Meah Collins (USA) tomorrow in round six. "Last year, this was such a special event for me, and my dream came true when I qualified here, so I think Port Stephens holds a special place in my heart for that reason," Hennessy said. "The constantly changing lineup here at Birubi really forces you to adapt and as a surfer, I think that's really important to be able to do. I just want to keep performing and hopefully, I can get a similar result to last year."
Reigning event winner Nikki Van Dijk was a standout on Day 2 of competition posting the highest two-wave combination of the event so far, a 15.60 total for an epic display of rail surfing. Van Dijk was never safe as her opponents Isabella Nichols and Ellie Brooks also posted excellent eight-point plus rides to be right behind her. Phillip Island local Van Dijk will be hoping to repeat her win from last year to guarantee her spot on the CT in 2020 and head to Maui with less pressure. Van Dijk progresses with Nichols while Brooks was unfortunately eliminated. "It's awesome to be back here at Birubi," van Dijk said. "I can't believe it's already been a year - it's been a crazy year. I didn't realise that we all had excellent scores which was probably a good thing as it would have made things pretty stressful. I think I have to win this event to re-qualify which is kind of good because it's a really obvious objective. I've been in this position before and won an event to qualify so it's cool to be in this position again."
Other surfers to progress into round six include Keala Tomoda-Bannert, Mahina Maeda, Zahli Kelly, Philippa Anderson, Leilani McGonagle, Holly Wawn, Bronte Macaulay and Pauline Ado. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as the Finals are run and won and the qualifiers for the 2020 WSL Women's Championship Tour are decided.
The 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro pres. by Sisstrevolution women's QS6,000 event will run from November 15 - 17.