A drizzly day at Merewether Beach has brought with it light winds and great conditions for Day 4 of the Surfest Newcastle Pro WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 5000 event. The day was made all the more exciting by the appearance of all of the Men's event top seeds in clean, peaky three-to-four foot surf.
Day 4 at Surfest was a good one for the Novocastrian contingent of surfers with Ryan Callinan, Jackson Baker and Morgan Cibilic all progressing through to Round 3 along with Philippa Anderson who won her Round 3 heat yesterday. For Callinan, it was his first heat in 2020 and he was looking good, posting a 15.10 two-wave total for a series of trademark fins free backside gouges.
"It's exciting to see the local crew doing well," Callinan said. "I've been trying to watch all of their heats which is keeping me busy. It's great to see Morgan come onto the scene out of the blue -- we've all known how good he is for a long time but no he'll show it on the world stage which is awesome. Jacko (Jackson Baker) has been doing the QS for a while now and I think he is underachieving for how good he is. Hopefully, Morgan qualifying gives him a kick up the butt. But seriously though, It's great to see them making heats and posting scores. It felt good to get back in the jersey and surf my first heat of the year. I feel fortunate to be able to warm up at home but it does get nerve-racking with all of the support on the beach because you don't want to disappoint."
For the first time in almost 5 years, Hawaiian Sebastian Zietz is back in Newcastle and surfing the Aussie QS leg after the stylish natural footer fell off the elite Championship Tour at the end of 2019. Zietz got his requalification campaign off to a great start at Surfest today, progressing through his Round 2 heat in second place behind current World Junior Champion Lucas Vicente (BRA).
"Back on the QS and at the first comp of the year -- I'm excited and ready to get it going," Zietz said. "It was nice to get a good wave straight away and get a decent score -- it definitely did a lot for my confidence. It's been a long offseason but has been nice at home with my wife and daughter and just doing yard work and stuff. It's good to be back in Newcastle -- the waves have been really good so let's hope it keeps coming."
The 2020 Championship Tour will see the return of one of Australia's most exciting up and comers Ethan Ewing. The former World Junior Champion requalified for the tour with an epic finish to the 2019 QS. The young Queenslander commenced his competitive season at Merewether today and was looking full of confidence. Ewing was patient as usual, only surfing four waves to post his winning score, as he moved into the next round at Surfest, an event where he won the Pro Junior division only 5 years ago.
"It's great to be starting my year in Newcastle -- I really like it here," Ewing said. "I was pretty nervous before that heat so I'm glad to have it out of the way. It's definitely a different feeling coming into the tour this time around. I feel like I need to perform at my best every time I paddle out and put on a show. I really want to enjoy these events I'm at before the season starts. It still doesn't feel like I'm on the CT again and I don't think it will until I arrive to compete at Snapper."
At last year's Surfest Newcastle Pro, Charly Quivront took his home a career-best result with an equal fifth place Quarterfinal finish. In 2020, Quivront is back and he means business. After finishing the 2019 season sitting at 54th on the QS rankings, the Frenchman is keen to push for CT qualification and his campaign starts at Merewether this week. He got off to a good start overcoming three past and present CT surfers in Adriano de Souza, Michael Rodrigues and Keanu Asing.
"Last year was my first time doing the Australian leg and competing here in Newcastle," Quivront said. "I was lucky to get a good result and build my confidence for the rest of the year. I've come back and am doing the same thing -- get a good result and take some confidence into the rest of the year. I'm staying in the same house, doing the same routine and surfing the same board so I hope it all works again. When I first saw the heat draw I felt the pressure of coming up against three CT guys but then I just reminded myself I have nothing to prove to them and I could be the underdog and that worked for me because I took the win."