The women's Qualifying Series (QS) has officially kicked into high gear in 2020 - and it's only January. After four years away, the women are back at the left point of Riyue Bay for the Corona Open China hosted by Wanning QS 5,000.
Continued two-to-four foot (1 - 1.5 metre), occasional plus, swell filled into the lineup and former Championship Tour (CT) competitors, along with some of the 2020 class, joined top QS threats who rose to the occasion. Men's competition was called off for the day with both Round 1 and 2 of women's taking over the lineup.
World's Best: Former and Fresh CT Kick Off 2020 Season
The 2019 CT Rookie of the Year Brisa Hennessy brought that flair to the left point and delivered one of the day's top performances with a 12.63 (out of a possible 20) heat total. For the 20-year-old constantly being on the go is nothing new and after making an appearance at Riyue Bay in 2015, earning an equal 17th at age 15, returned in fine form. Now that she finds herself among the world's best, Hennessy hopes to stay there by all means necessary.
Fierro and Farmer: Incredible Starts for Young Contenders
Vahine Fierro made an explosive debut alongside former CT elite Claire Bevilacqua and eliminated 2019 CT competitor Paige Hareb. Fierro accrued Round 2's highest heat total of a 13.90 (out of a possible 20) with an impeccable 7.50 (out of a possible 10) to all but secure her victory. But, the 20-year-old Tahitian is coming in relaxed and ready to take on the week at hand.
For Vittoria Farmer's (AUS) first visit to Riyue Bay a place atop the top performers was in store as she paved the way with a decimate backhand to garner a 15.27, including a day's highest 7.67, heat total in Round 1. Farmer is no stranger to big results, winning three in a row at Nias, Simeulu, and Sumbawa in 2018 and now looks to claim her first-ever major QS victory to start 2020.
"It's unreal to get a start like that and couldn't have asked for anything else really," said Farmer. "Always good to come out of the gates with a couple good scores and fun waves. I didn't really hear too much about this wave, just photos, but wow it's such a fun wave and it's really fun to be surfing a left point."
Philippa Anderson's Ready for A New Season
The QS veteran and qualification threat hits reset for a fresh start in 2020 at Riyue Bay.
One the QS's top threats each year Philippa Anderson made her 2020 debut in solid fashion, overcoming former CT competitor Pauline Ado, who also advanced, while Round 1 standouts Leticia Canales Bilbao and Carol Henrique found themselves in an unfortunate interference situation. For Anderson, each year is anew and the Australian takes the positives from the season prior to improve upon - never finishing lower than No. 14 on the rankings since 2015. The 27-year-old showcased her backhand attack and now looks for more heading deeper into the event.
Yolanda Hopkins Stamps Authority on Opening Day
Portugal's Hopkins may not be a household name among the QS contingent but already has a number of results to her resume including a first-ever win last season at the Roxy Open. After today much more of the surfing world learned some of her potential after posting one of the day's best performances in Round 1 with an excellent 8.17 (out of a possible 10), the day's best, and 15.00 heat total before meeting one of surfing's most revered names Ho and eliminating 2019 WSL Junior Championships runner-up Alyssa Spencer in Round 2.
"I just surfed the way I usually surf and I got the scores for it," said Hopkins. "It's so fun out there and this wave is really good once you get on the good ones. (My coach) is back in Portugal and sets his alarm for every time I have a heat so he can watch it and then we talk via WhatsApp and I'm so grateful for him. Normally we'd review after my heat but here he's able to watch them and we just talk right after."
Event organizers will convene at 6:45 a.m. CST to determine a possible start to either men's Round 2 or women's Round 3 of competition.
The Corona China Open QS 5,000 hosted by Wanning will run at Riyue Bay, Wanning, Hainan Island, China in the best conditions between January 6 - 12. Tune in live throughout the event window via www.WorldSurfLeague.com, Facebook Live or the WSL App.