- WSL / Ethan Smith

The 2021 Mad Mex Maroubra Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event got off to a flying start today with the first rounds of competition kicking off in clean two-foot conditions.

After some uncharacteristic early-round losses at Great Lakes and Port Stephens, Margaret River's Jacob Willcox appeared to turn the table as he tore his way through his opening heat at Maroubra. Willcox found a handful of playful and punchy lefthand shore breaks to win his heat with a series of respectable scores. Willcox will meet Tekehukehu Butler, Dakoda Walters and Josh Boyle in the next round.

"I feel like I've had such an average start to the year in these events and I entered them to get some more competitive practice, but it hasn't really turned out the way I would have liked, but I guess losing heats is good practice as well," said Willcox. "I feel like that last event in Port Stephens was one of the worst losses I've had since Portugal where I had a first-round loss, but then the next event was a 10,000 rated comp and I made the semis. I think sometimes a loss is just what you need to reset and get a bit of a fresh start."

South African born and reigning Maroubra Pro champion Sarah Baum sent a huge message to her opposition as she belted out an array of vicious turns in her opening heat. Baum unleashed a barrage of critical forehand snaps to be rewarded with an excellent 8.17 and cement her spot into the second round of competition.

"That lefthander just opened up and presented such a beautiful wall," said Baum. "I definitely felt good after that heat and I think that scoreline definitely gave me a lot of confidence going into the next round. I always feel good competing here at Maroubra and have had some good results here in the past, so I'm really excited to get into the next round."

Sarah Baum Sarah Baum on Day 1 at MAroubra. - WSL / Ethan Smith

After receiving a series of injury wildcards into the higher-seeded round of 64 at the Great Lakes Pro and the Port Stephens Pro, Kalani Ball began his Mad Mex Maroubra Pro campaign back in the first round. The Illawarra natural footer managed to build on the momentum that saw him notch up a semi-final finish at Port Stephens, nailing a beautiful array of snaps and carves to claim a heat victory with a two-wave heat total of 12.43.

"The waves are fun when they come, but it's just a little bit slow," said Ball. "Even though this is a different event and I'm starting in the first round, my gameplan is still the same. All the guys who were in the heat are guys who are from around the same kinda area and I surf with them pretty often and I knew they all rip. Hopefully, I can get a similar result to the one I got at Port Stephens."

Hughie Vaughan Youngster Hughie Vaughan with a lethal fin ditch. - WSL / Ethan Smith

Maroubra local Koda Killorn flew the flag for the local surfing contingent, progressing through his opening heat. The powerful goofy-footer got the Maroubra locals on their feet over the course of the heat as he progressed through the heat in the runner-up position behind Manly dynamo Axel Rose-Curotta.

"I was actually more nervous than any other event I've ever competed at," said Killorn. "Having all my family and friends here was nerve-racking, but it's sick having an event like this on my home beach and being able to run down from home and sleep in my own bed. I don't think there's too much of an advantage being local. Everyone is used to competing at beachbreaks like this, so I don't think I've got too much of a leg-up."

Koda Killorn Local upstart Koda Killorn. - WSL / Ethan Smith

Following the withdrawal of Laura Enever from the event, it was left to Tru Starling to fly the flag for the Narrabeen locals. The young natural-footer didn't disappoint as she notched up a win in the windy onshore surf ahead of fellow perennial standout Nyxie Ryan who claimed the runner-up position.

"The surf definitely got a lot trickier as the day went on," said Starling. "Honestly, I have just been really enjoying this run of events and want to make sure I can keep improving as the leg goes on and if I can keep making heats then it's just a bonus."

The live broadcast of the Mad Mex Maroubra Pro will begin on Saturday, 27 February 2021

The Mad Mex Maroubra Pro, stop 3 on the 2021 Australian Qualifying Series leg will run from February 26 to 29.

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