Professional World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) surfing resumed today with the opening day of the 2021 Great Lakes Pro pres. by Surfers Rescue 24/7 kicking off in tricky four-foot conditions at Boomerang Beach.
Some of Australia's most promising female surfers shone as across the course of the day, as they fought to earn their way into tomorrow's third round.
Piper Harrison (Coolangatta, Qld) claimed the first major upset of the event thus far, eliminating 2020 Great Lakes Pro QS champion, Sarah Baum (ZAF) from the competition. Harrison found a handful of diamonds in the rough over the duration of her heat, nailing a mix of carves and snaps to finish with a respectable 11.83 two-wave heat total and eliminate the former champion from the competition.
"The heat was definitely challenging, but there are waves out there and I think all us girls have surfed waves in more difficult conditions than that, so to come away with a win feels awesome," said Harrison. "I was definitely nervous after not competing for some time, but I'd been doing some heat training with Surfing Australia and that's helped prepare me for this run of events."
After spending the majority of 2020 out of the water due to an injury, northern beaches native Alysse Cooper (Manly, NSW) showed she hadn't lost any of her flair as she used her powerful backhand attack to claim a victory in her opening heat. The lightweight goofy-footer hammered a variety of decent backhand hits in the heat to finish with an 11.80 two-wave heat total.
"I don't think I had too much of a gameplan out there, but I just thought it would be best to get one quick wave and give myself enough time to either run around or paddle back out and get one more as you could get lost in the lineup pretty easily," said Cooper. "Coming off an injury, my whole goal was just to get my feet back in the wax and feel what it's like to compete again and if I get through a few heats then that's a bonus."
2020 NSW Junior Champion Rosie Smart (Sawtell, NSW) showed why she was the reigning state champion nailing the highest wave score of the day, an excellent 8.00 for a series of critical backhand turns. However, the heat nearly finished with just the one score for Smart as she was caught inside by a flurry of bomb sets that made paddling out nearly impossible. Smart's luck swung back around in the dying moments of the heat as she found a 4.33 wave score that propelled her into the first position and win the heat.
"I was super lucky to get that wave as it was really hard to find waves like that out there," said Smart. "I got stuck in the inside after that wave and it made it really hard to get back out. Fortunately, I got a bit of a break and I was able to scratch back into the lineup and get a back-up score."
The elite four-day World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event is the first of four stops on the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series.
The four-event series will see three QS1000 rated events (Maroubra, Great Lakes and Port Stephens) and one men's and women's QS3000 (Central Coast).