The 2020 Mothernest Great Lakes Pro, World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 event saw a giant day of action today with Men's and Women's Semifinalists decided after a series of exciting exchanges in fluctuating two-foot conditions.
Luana Silva claimed one of the biggest scalps of the event when she eliminated perennial standout Leilani McGonagle from the event in the Quarterfinals. 15-year-old Silva shone in the quarterfinal - surfing well beyond her years - posting an excellent 9.00 wave-score, followed by a 7.75 to amass a 16.75 two-wave heat total and cement a spot into the semis where she'll meet Freya Prumm.
"That heat felt really good," said Silva. "My round three heat was a bit of a wakeup call as I only got a seven-point heat total, so I really wanted to improve on that. Getting a win over Leilani has boosted my confidence a lot as she's such a good competitor and someone who is really hard to beat."
Sarah Baum appeared to still be carrying some of the same momentum that won her the recent Carve Pro QS event at Maroubra, earning herself a spot into the Semifinals. Baum found a handful of punchy lefts in her quarterfinal against Yolanda Hopkins, which allowed her to perform a barrage of powerful forehand carves. Baum will face Leila Riccobuano in tomorrow's semi-finals.
"I had a goal of getting to the quarterfinals in this event, so to go one heat better now feels great," said Baum. "I think the result at the Carve Pro gave me a bit of confidence plus the waves where I live in Newcastle have been really good, so I've been surfing so much, which would have helped as well I think."
After a 12 month hiatus from competition due to injury, Kai Warner showed he hadn't lost any of his flare as he continued to move through heats at the Mothernest Great Lakes Pro. Warner's best performance came in the quarterfinals when he eliminated event standout Timothee Bisso thanks to a near-perfect 9.10 wave score and a 7.00 backup. Warner executed a chain of powerful backside snaps in the heat to get the edge over the Frenchman and earn himself a spot into the semis where he'll face fellow Northern Beaches surfer Harley Ross.
"I've was injured at the beginning of last year, so I opted to have last year off and start fresh in 2020, so I'm frothing to get to the semis here," said Warner. "I'm just here trying to have as much fun as I can. There's a bunch of guys and girls here from Narrabeen at this event, so we're all cheering each other on and it makes each win so much sweeter."
Billy Stairmand's love for the Mothernest Great Lakes Pro grew fonder as he solidified himself a spot into the Semifinals; his second semi-final appearance in as many years. Stairmand gained the upper hand against Sam Coffey (USA) in his quarterfinal thanks to an impressive 15.15 two-wave heat total. Stairmand will meet fellow Kiwi Elliot Paerata-Reid in the Semifinals tomorrow.
"The swell and wind was pretty wild this morning but it totally turned around and began pumping in that last heat," said Stairmand. "Growing up at Raglan, I use my backhand all the time so I wanted to use that to my advantage. I came here to try out a bunch of new boards and hopefully get the ball rolling for the QS5000 in Newcastle and the Challenger Series in Sydney. Now that Elliot is in the semis with me, it's awesome that there'll definitely be a Kiwi in the final. Elliot actually beat me in the New Zealand Nationals earlier this year, so I definitely want to get the win against him."
The 2020 Mothernest Great Lakes Pro will run from February 19 - 23.