Competition continued today at the 35th annual Surfest Newcastle Pro and Doyle Partners Women's Pro presented by Burton Automotive WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 5000 event. Merewether continued to deliver the goods with bumpy three-foot waves on offer and the event's top seeds hit the water.
Now residing in Newcastle, Julian Wilson only has a small distance to travel to compete at the annual Surfest event and the current World No. 11 certainly looked right at home on Day 3 of competition. Wilson made light work of his opponents, posting a 15.93 heat total to win his opening match-up. Wilson mixed his trademark progressive aerial antics with power and finesse on the rail to progress into Round 3 at his local beach Merewether.
"I've been surfing at Surfest for 16 years now," Wilson said. "It's such a special event with such a rich history -- there have been so many iconic moments at this event so I'm really happy to be back and involved. I'm really loving waking up in my own bed then coming down here and surfing a heat. It feels good to have the competitive season underway and be back in a rashie. The level of surfing here is really high so it's a great way to get back in the swing of things and it looks like we'll have waves all week which is awesome."
Another Aussie Championship Tour competitor who got their 2020 competitive season underway was Macy Callaghan who looked sharp on her way to a Round 3 heat win. Growing up on the nearby Central Coast, Callaghan also has a strong affiliation with the beaches of Newcastle and it showed as she posted a two-wave combination 14.93 to book a spot in Round 4 as she looks to settle into life on the CT in 2020.
"It feels really good to be back in competition mode, especially with a heat win," Callaghan said. "It's always great to get the year started off in Newcastle, I really feel at home here and love coming back. I'm looking forward to starting this season off. I'm feeling like I'm in a good headspace and am just a bit more confident in my surfing so I am excited to see where I go. I'm hoping to lock in some big results at these early QS and Challenger Series events so I can go into the CT season feeling as comfortable as possible."
In 2019 Isabella Nichols got her qualification campaign off to an epic start with a runner-up finish at Newcastle. She then, of course, went on to win the QS and graduate to the CT where she'll compete as a rookie in 2020. Nichols is back where it all began and again has taken a win to get her year off to a great start. The win wasn't the most comfortable with Nichols sneaking through with a two-wave total of 11.17.
"This was my first heat of the year and I went into it quite nervous," Nichols said. "It was an excited nervous because you always want to do so well in the first heat of the year. I was thinking about that a lot and then got lost at sea and was sitting too far down the beach. I couldn't hear what the scores were and knew that the others were getting more waves than me so I wasn't sure if I was actually going to make it. I'm glad to get through and be here in Newy. I love starting the year here -- it's such a cool place with great waves, great people and great food."
The Merewether fans were over the moon when local favourite Philippa Anderson (AUS) dominated her Round 3 match-up, posting an excellent 8.90 single wave score which was the highest of the day. Anderson has already bested her result from this event last year as she looks to do her hometown proud and put her name on the Surfest Trophy in the event's 35th year.
"Last year I got knocked in the first heat so I'm stoked to have done better than that," Anderson said. "The waves aren't great but there are still some good ones so everyone has opportunities. It's crazy that this event has been going on for 35 years. I remember coming to this event for the first time as a kid then four years later competing in it and that was ages ago, so for it to still be going is so amazing. I'd love to do well but it will be tough with the incredible level of surfing."
Other impressive performances on Day 3 included an amazing backhand attack from Timothee Bisso who posted an excellent 17.26 heat total for a critical display of surfing. South Africa's Zoe Steyn took her heat with a 15.27 two-wave combination to progress into Round 4.
Other international competitors to win heats included Gabriela Bryan, Chelsea Tuach, Tia Blanco, Yolanda Hopkins, Alejo Muniz and Joan Duru to name a few.