- WSL / Natalie Meredith

It was a spicy start to the Vissla and Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro presented by Mad Mex with local heroes and first-time challengers coming together in a high-stakes third event of the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series that has kicked off at Avoca Beach. The elite field of over 150 surfers from across Australia and New Zealand continued their run of good form on the opening day of the World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 event. The surfers are looking to increase their WSL Australia / Oceania Regional rankings in a quest to qualify for the Challenger Series (CS) and then Championship Tour (CT).

Competition was strong on day one as surfers looked to generate momentum and flow in rippable two-to-four feet surf at Avoca Beach. Today's action saw the completion of the opening round of the Men's division whilst Heats 1-8 were run in the first round of the Women's draw.

Glenn Hall Former CT competitor turned super coach Glenn Hall was back in the jersey for Day 1 at Avoca. - WSL / Natalie Meredith

Current Championship Tour surfer Molly Picklum wasted no time in getting her Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro campaign off to a strong start, blitzing her first round heat with two solid scores and applause from the beach. In 2021 the Central Coast surfer took out three of the four events in the NSW Pro Surf Series and attributes her qualification to the World Tour to consistency in these QS events. Picklum is looking to defend her title here at Avoca and generate form in Australia before her debut at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach Championship Tour event in just under a month.

"It's so great to be back home here at Avoca and surf in some really fun waves at my local break," Picklum said. "Anytime we can get a left hand rip bowl for an event is absolutely awesome as I love surfing my backhand and where better than in a lineup that I've spent so much time. It's amazing to come back here for the event after enjoying the last few Championship Tour events and it's such a great way to reconnect with the community whilst surfing against some top talent from all across Australia and New Zealand. I'm looking forward to the rest of the event and will be cheering on Micro (Glenn Hall) and the rest of the crew in the competition."

Molly Picklum Molly Picklum was a standout in Round 1. - WSL / Natalie Meredith

Picklum will look to continue her winning ways in round two of the event which is set to feature tomorrow against former Championship Tour wildcard Kobie Enright (Snapper Rocks), C A R V E Great Lakes Pro runner-up Bodhi Leigh-Jones and Sunshine Coast talent Holly Williams.

Leaving it right until the dying stages in her first round matchup, former Championship Tour campaigner Dimity Stoyle was able to throw everything at her last wave to secure the biggest score of the day being an 8.90 which saw her take home a win in her return to the Avoca event. Stoyle chipped away with mid range scores through the duration of the heat and looked in a position to advance from the outset , however she was able to show her extensive heat experience and put the icing on the cakes with a clinical ride right as the buzzer sounded.

"I'm stoked that I got that last major score and could take home a win in what was a bit of a slow heat," Stoyle said. "It's great to be making heats again and going left which I don't do much of living up on the Goldy. It's probably the first time I feel like I've been left since Avoca last year so I'm pumped that I could get that excellent score on my backhand. Hopefully I can continue to make some heats and set myself up for a position at Snapper Rocks in the first Challenger Series event in May."

Dimity Stoyle Dimity Stoyle posted the highest single wave score of Day 1 with an 8.90. - WSL / Natalie Meredith

Also showing off her status as a former top 16 surfer in the world, Paige Hareb was able to lock in a near-excellent score at the start of her Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro campaign to give herself a heat win and hold off a rampaging field who were hot on her heels.

"It feels so good to get some higher-range scores in my first heat here at Avoca and get my confidence up in this QS 3000 event," Hareb said. "I'm searching for a strong result here at Avoca in the hope of getting back onto the Challenger Series and this is a good start to that goal. The lineup was tricky to negotiate but I was grateful that I got a couple of bigger turns in on that early wave to lock away that strong score."

In the Men's field it was action aplenty as surfers put forward classy performances to book themselves a spot in the second round.

Showing off his credentials as a former CT surfer, Central Coast local Glenn ‘Micro' Hall was able to surf his way through his round one heat and gain a spot through to the next round. Hall looked poised from the opening of the heat as he started off with two mid-range scores to put the scoreboard pressure on early. However it was two rising stars of the sport in Saxon Reber and Hugh Vaughan who were able to put up a strong fight in a back and forth heat against the Umina veteran.

In an entertaining heat it was the North Steyne local in Reber who was able to tuck away two strong numbers at the backend of the heat to leapfrog Hall and put him in second when time elapsed. Both surfers will move on through to tomorrow's action at Avoca Beach.

"It was really cool to put the jersey back on again and experience all those competitive nerves that are associated with it," Hall said. "It's great to feel those emotions again from a coaching perspective as it definitely helps you improve in that aspect so you can give that experience to your athletes to assist with their development. We've got such an amazing group of young and up and coming surfers down here in the Central Coast and it's awesome to see them all down here at Avoca all vying for a win. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the event down here and watching all the young crew rip".

Saxon Reber Saxon Reber blowing it off the top. - WSL / Natalie Meredith

North Coast surfer Micah Margieson (Kindscliff) was another surfer who looked right at home out in the Avoca lineup, posting one of the better single wave scores of the day with an array of critical maneuvers. The natural footer was able to post his 7.17 point score early in his round one heat to leave his fellow competitors trailing and needing a large score to move in front. Margieson found a strong backup to put the requirement out of reach when time elapsed.

"It's great to get the ball rolling down here in Avoca with a heat win in some great waves," Margieson said. "I am feeling refreshed after the small break in between events and absolutely love coming to this beautiful wave rich area. As we get towards these bigger events it's really exciting to be making heats and I'm hoping to continue to do so and would love to hoist up that trophy at the end of this event".

Micah Margieson Micah Margieson progressing into Round 2 at Avoca. - WSL / Natalie Meredith

Additionally, Northern Beaches surfer Jamie Thomson was able to put forward a strong performance to give himself a Round 1 win and earn a spot on day two of the event. Thomson led from the outset of the heat and controlled the outset with some fiery forehand surfing which will hold him in good stead for the rest of the event.

"I'm stoked to be through the first round down here at Avoca after a couple of results that I was disappointed with at the first two stops of the series at Boomerang and Birubi," Thomson said. "I knew if I surfed a smart heat and targeted the long running right handers when I had priority it would hold me in a good position for the rest of the heat. It's nice to generate some momentum and I'm looking forward to surfing some more fun waves over the course of the week".

Surfers to also progress through to the second round included yesterday's Lake Mac Pro Junior winner Marlon Harrison (Snapper Rocks), Xavier Huxtable (Torquay), Nathan Hedge (North Narrabeen) and Brett Burcher (Ulladulla).

Competition is set to resume tomorrow at Avoca Beach with the rest of Women's Round 1 to kick off the action at 7:30am.

The 2022 Vissla and Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro will run at Avoca Beach from March 14 - 19 with the Central Coast Pro Junior running 17 - 19.

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