The 2021 Mad Mex Maroubra Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 rated event saw a gigantic day of surfing today with the top-seeds doing battle in fun two-to-three foot conditions.
Current WSL world number three, Sally Fitzgibbons donned a competitive rashie for the first time since the 2020 Maui Pro presented by ROXY at Pipeline and showed that her skills remained as sharp as ever as she demolished her way through the heat. Fitzgibbons found a handful of punchy righthand shore breaks in the exchange, smashing some beautiful snaps and carves to finish the heat with a decent 12.35 two-wave heat total. Fitzgibbons will now face Anne Dos Santos, Sage Goldsbury and Kirra-Belle Olsson in the first heat of the day tomorrow.
"I found it really exciting to be coming into this event," said Fitzgibbons. "I think I put pressure on myself to implement the things I have worked on in my training and have put my attention on things that are down the track, like the Olympics, working on boards and things like that. But these 20-minute heats in smaller surf is the training I think I need to test myself and move forward. Hopefully, I can keep making more heats tomorrow."
Kirra-Belle Olsson showed that she'd be one to watch in later rounds and when she utilises her local wildcard at the upcoming Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro. Olsson opted to hunt down a series of playful lefthanders in the heat which were duly rewarded with a 12.00 two-wave heat total.
"I feel like I've been surfing well and a lot of my training is paying off," said Olsson. "I've also found that staying busy is key in conditions like this as you could get lost out there pretty easily and miss certain opportunities. I've been really excited about competing lately and I honestly can't wait to surf in my next heat."
Fresh off a runner-up finish at the recent Port Stephens Pro, Philippa Anderson carried an added spring in her step as she tore through her first-round heat. Anderson found a handful of beautiful right-handers in the heat and proceeded to execute a barrage of critical snaps and carves to finish the heat with a 14.35 two-wave heat total.
"I watched a lot of heats before mine and I saw that the girls were getting six-point rides for a lot of right-handers and I got super excited to get out there," said Anderson. "We've been really blessed with waves over the course of this QS leg and it's been awesome to see all the girls and guys putting up good scores. Hopefully, this will just be the start and the swell will continue."
After taking out the 2020 Australian Open of Surf series, Dylan Moffat has been unable to find the same form over the last two QS events. That being said, Moffat looked like he was back in excellent form as he took out his round of 32 heat. The Narrabeen native performed a variety of high-flying aerial antics in the heat to take the win ahead of his fancied opposition, Kalani Ball, Jarvis Earle and Lennix Smith who claimed second, third and fourth respectively.
"That was exciting," said Moffat. "I was watching everyone catching waves and I just felt like I was in a rhythm. I came here this morning expecting smaller, onshore conditions and we ended up getting fun and punchy right-handers, so maybe not having any expectations paid off for me in that heat."
After winning the Port Stephens Pro earlier in the week, Jackson Baker showed he would still be the man to beat as he shone in his round of 32 heat. Using his trademark pink surfboard, the Novocastrian natural-footer showed that power surfing would always reign supreme as he hammered a series of hacks and snaps to take a heat victory and go one step further to claiming back-to-back victories.
"I hadn't really ridden this board much since Port Stephens and the waves there were so cuppy but as the tide ran out here today the waves were doing the same thing as they did there," said Baker. "That was the hardest 1000 heat I've ever had for sure, it could have been a heat in a Challenger Series for sure. When you have a heat against guys who are that good, you want to make sure you get a good start because you don't want to be chasing people in a heat like that."
Central Coast junior dynamo Joel Vaughan posted the highest heat total of the day, 15.25 following an innovative display of aerial manoeuvres and powerful snaps. Coming up against fancied opponents Kyuss King, Alister Reginato and Jaggar Bartholomew, Vaughan performed mammoth combinations to notch up the aforementioned score and earn his spot into the round of 16.
"The conditions dropped a touch as the afternoon moved on and the tide ran out but there were still some good sections if you could be patient," said Vaughan. "I try not to focus too much on anyone else in the heat, I know they all surf amazing, but I just stick to my own plan and improve my own situation."