Over 200 of Australia and New Zealand's best up and coming surfers have arrived on the picturesque Tweed Coast ahead of the upcoming Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro which is set to commence this weekend. The event will see a Pro Junior run June 19 - 20 with the Qualifying Series (QS) 5,000 running from the 21 - 25 with locations to be decided each morning depending on conditions.
Being the final event to run on the 2021 WSL Australia / Oceania regional Qualifying Series, the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro will be the last chance competitors get to qualify for the 2021 Challenger Series, the gateway to the elite Championship Tour. With 5000 points on offer there will be opportunity for over 30 competitors to lock in a spot, something that rankings leader Reef Heazlewood has all but done. Fresh off two wildcard appearances at the elite Championship Tour level, Heazlewood will have confidence that he can take the regional title with a strong showing on the Tweed Coast.
"It's exciting to have a QS5,000 round out the Australia / Oceania QS season," Heazlewood said. " There is a big opportunity to move around the top 10 and see who will head to the Challenger Series which will make it a really exciting week. The Tweed Coast is such a wave rich area and having a mobile event will guarantee that we get the best waves regardless of swell and wind conditions -- I've been training in the area a lot lately and there are so many great waves to surf. I'm hoping my level has lifted a little after competing at two CT events recently but the level on the QS is so high so it will literally be anyones."
Local standout Zahli Kelly will be one to watch in both the Pro Junior and the QS5,000 events. Currently competing in her last year of the juniors whilst sitting in 8th position on the regional QS rankings, Kelly is keeping her options open across two divisions and with a strong performance next week could lock in a spot at the World Junior titles and the Challenger Series for 2021.
"It's always exciting to compete in an event of this level so close to home," Kelly said. "This is my last year of competing on the junior tour and although I'm more focussed on the QS now, I thought it would be good to compete in both events and keep my options open for the remainder of 2021. There's an incredible field of surfers in both divisions and the forecast for the opening few days look promising so it should be a really exciting event. I've just completed some year 12 exams so I am looking forward to shifting my focus to competing and surfing."
Other big names to watch over the coming week at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro include daughter of former CT star Josh Kerr, Sierra, who will be competing in her first ever WSL events this weekend. CT competitor Macy Callaghan will be keeping her competitive game sharp as she takes on the QS whilst resting from the CT event in Lemoore California this weekend. West Aussie Jacob Willcox will be hoping to continue his scorching run in 2021 as he looks to grab top spot on the rankings from Reef Heazlewood.
The Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro is supported by the NSW Government's Regional Events Acceleration Fund which encourages new major events to be delivered in regional areas, where they will have a positive impact on local economies.
The 2021 Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro QS5,000 and Pro Junior Events are set to run on the Tweed Coast from June 19 - 25.