The World Surf League (WSL) made its long-awaited Qualifying Series (QS) return to Oceanside, California, with the tenth edition of the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro QS 3,000. Fun, three-to-five south swell pushed into the competitive arena with competition finishing Round 1 and Round 2 Heats 1 - 4. Some of the event's top seeds made their debut in the final four heats and battled with early event standouts.
Current North America No. 5 Sawyer Lindblad (pictured in key art) made her way down the highway from San Clemente, California, in hopes of continuing her great run through 2021. Lindblad looks to continue her momentum from back-to-back finals day at the Jack's Surfboards Pro to close the 2020/21' season and opener in the Outer Banks earlier this month against a new level of competition.
"That 7.33 felt really good after I was feeling nervous because that heat was stacked," expressed Lindblad. "I randomly got that left on the inside and it opened up for me to get a few big turns. I'm excited to surf on and hopefully compete against some of the pros - I'm so pumped to surf with them. I've never surfed against any one of that caliber so it's a great opportunity to get some points and experience."
Out-of-Region Contingent Set the Tone
But, Lindblad and North America talents have to deal with the likes of out-of-region threats, who won't earn points at this event. One of them, Hawaii's Bettylou Sakura Johnson, raised the bar of what's expected from the women on hand at this event with an outstanding 15.77 (out of a possible 20) heat total - including an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10). The 15-year-old already has her name established within the professional surf community with an appearance in the 2019 Maui Pro presented by Roxy Championship Tour (CT) event.
"This is my first time here and it's an awesome set up, I love it," said Johnson. "It's really good to be back in jersey after not competing in awhile. To be surfing and seeing some of these big names is great just to see them do their thing. Once I got a taste (of the CT) I was blown away and want to get back there. After that first heat I felt some confidence and momentum into the next so I'm excited for tomorrow."
Former CT competitor Macy Callaghan returns in search of her first Super Girl cape amid a stacked field and showed she's here to compete with an excellent 8.33 - the single-highest wave score of opening day action. The 20-year-old Australian is no stranger to this event, making her debut in 2015, and prepares for a big Challenger Series (CS) debut next week. But, Callaghan has plenty on her plate in front of here in Oceanside.
"I was actually pretty nervous just with my last heat being in Mexico so I've had a bit of a break," laughed Callaghan. "It's nice to be back here at the Super Girl. It's really good getting those excellent scores - it's so difficult to get them on the CT (laughs). But, felt good to get that winning momentum back and I'm excited for the rest of the event."
The Brasilians are represented with one of the country's youngest rising stars Sophia Medina. Younger sister to recent Rip Curl WSL Finals victor Gabriel, the 16-year-old is here to make name for herself among some of her idols - and started off in fine form with a Round 1 victory.
"It's awesome to compete at a great competition and I see the CT girls, and they're such an inspiration," exclaimed Medina. "It's so good to be here and have this opportunity. I competed in Ecuador which was my first QS and I didn't do too well but then I got a Quarterfinals result which got me really excited. My brother (Gabriel) just became the three-time World Champion and I'm so proud of him. It's an inspiration and now I'll try to write my own story."
Moore Aloha Foundation Brings Positivity to Oceanside
On the other side of the action, 5X WSL Champion Carissa Moore engaged with the local youth for her Moore Aloha Foundation event. Joined by the likes of CT icons Tatiana Weston-Webb, Courtney Conlogue, Lakey Peterson, and more, the charitable champ spread good vibes and a host of activities for the attendees.
"Each time, the Moore Aloha events keep getting better and better, and this one was really special," said Moore. "We started the day some Q&A, then had a surf with a bunch of the girls in a tag team event. After that they had an impromptu Zumba dance which was amazing before getting a surprise from Kelly (Slater) to say hi to the girls. We did a beach cleanup and finished out with some yoga."
"Just a huge thank to all the sponsors who helped with this event and all the girls that came down like Jessi Miley-Dyer, Courtney (Conlogue), Tatiana Weston-Webb, Lakey Peterson - Nora Vasconcellos came down. It was just incredible."
A 7:30am PDT call will determine an 8:00am start to Round 2 Heat 5.
The Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro QS 3,000 will run September 17 - 19 at Oceanside Pier. Watch LIVE beginning Saturday, September 18 at www.WorldSurfLeague.com and www.SuperGirlPro.com, and twitch.tv/supergirlseries.
For more information, visit www.supergirlsurfpro.com and www.WorldSurfLeague.com. To connect via social media, follow @SupergirlPro on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.