- WSL / Tom Bennett

The 2021 Great Lakes Pro pres. by Surfers Rescue 24/7 - stop one on the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series - will kickstart an action-packed year of surfing in Australia. The elite four-day World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event will form the first of four stops on the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series and will take place in the Great Lakes from the 16 - 19 February 2021.

The four-event series will see three men's and women's QS1000 rated events (Maroubra, Great Lakes and Port Stephens) and one men's and women's QS3000 (Central Coast).

In 2020, the WSL revealed a new format for 2021, which included creating distinct seasons between the QS (the regionalised development tier), the Challenger Series (the global battleground for Championship Tour qualification) and the Championship Tour (the world's best surfers competing for the World Title).

The new tour structure will provide a more streamlined and affordable career pathway for WSL athletes by allowing up-and-coming surfers to develop closer to home without financially overleveraging themselves. Athletes will compete in their regional QS tour in hopes of qualifying for the Challenger Series (CS), and ultimately the Championship Tour, which will reduce the economic pressure on surfers and their sponsors, as well as provide increased opportunities to celebrate local stars.

The QS will run from January through to July 2021 and determine who has qualified for the CS, which will run from August through to December 2021. Each region will have an allocation of surfers that can qualify for the CS through their regional tour. Athletes will be able to roll over points from 2020 QS events into the current season. Australia/Oceania will receive an allocation of ten men's and eight women's spots onto the Challenger Series based on the regional QS rankings.

WSL APAC Tour Manager Will Hayden-Smith views the Great Lakes Pro as one of the most exciting events of the season as it will be the first in the world to showcase the new regionalised format of the Qualifying Series.

"The WSL is so excited to be returning to the picturesque Boomerang Beach for the Great Lakes Pro in 2021," Hayden-Smith said. "Not only will the event be the first QS globally in 2021 but it will be the first of our new regionally focussed tour that will ensure more opportunities for surfers in our region. With this in mind, I'm sure we are going to see incredible surfing from Australia and New Zealand's most exciting up and coming talent. WSL would like to thank Surfing NSW and the New South Wales Government for their continued support and for always assisting to create a pathway for the next generation of Championship Tour surfers."

Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden said the event will continue to amaze spectators and competitors when the competition kicks off in February.

"The Great Lakes Pro is one of the most exciting events on the Surfing NSW calendar and we couldn't think of a better place to kick off the beginning of the professional surfing year in Australia," said Madden.

Member for Myall Lakes Stephen Bromhead said the NSW Government is proud to support the Great Lakes Pro, which has been a highlight on the summer events calendar for the past five years.

"After a challenging year, I'm delighted to welcome back the Great Lakes Pro - the event plays a significant role in not only showcasing our spectacular surfing beaches but also boosting local businesses with tourism dollars," Mr Bromhead said. "The Great Lakes are looking forward to again welcoming competitors and spectators to Boomerang Beach this February for another incredible event."

Local Boomerang Beach Boardriders Club wildcards are Ross Cadden and Charlize Everitt.

The Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series was developed for Australian and International surfers to gain ranking points and prize money on the WSL Qualifying Series. The series also creates an NSW coastal road trip for all to explore the variety of waves, visit local communities and enjoy NSW surfing culture.

For more information on these events or to watch live head to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the free WSL App.

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