- WSL / Matt Dunbar

The GWM Sydney Surf Pro presented by Rip Curl, The second stop of the WSL Challenger Series, saw another massive day of competition with the men's Round of 24 and six heats of the women's Round of 16. The dwindling draw is starting to take shape as the field has been further narrowed to only 16 men and 10 women with only two days left until the event winners are crowned for 2022.

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A crop of Californians are locked into the Round of 16, strong performances from former CT elite Callinan, Ciblic, and Rodrigues, plus Fioravanti flourishes as Baum brings out brilliance.

Southern California's Alyssa Spencer found her form in the Round of 16 after notching an advancing spot out of the Round of 32. The 19-year-old eliminated former Championship Tour (CT) surfer Macy Callaghan with a super impressive performance at Manly. Spencer posted an excellent heat total of 16.00 (out of a possible 20) for an impressive display of frontside surfing, demolishing the end sections and earning an 8.33 (out of a possible 10) on one of her efforts to secure her place into the Quarterfinals.

"Breaking into the Quarterfinals, I've only done it one other time so it definitely feels good to get past that ninth-place," said Spencer. "It felt nice to open up on a couple waves. I feel like I hadn't really done that yet in this event. It definitely ups my level and I knew I'd have to drop big scores against (Macy) so I knew I'd have to wait for a good wave."

Keala Tomoda-Bannert Keala Tomoda-Bannert found her WSL Junior Champion rhythm and earned a decisive heat win. - WSL / Beatriz Ryder

The second heat of the women's Round of 16 was an exciting matchup between former WSL World Junior Champion Keala Tomoda-Bannert and San Clemente's emerging threat Sawyer Lindblad with the pair going wave-for-wave in the peaky conditions. Linblad looked solid but was unable to find a finish where Tomoda-Bannert could, leaving the Hawaiian to take the heat and progress into the Quarterfinals where she will come up against event standout Luana Silva.

"I knew that was going to be a tough heat and I'm relieved to get through," said Tomoda-Bannert. "Sawyer's a great surfer and when she caught that final ride I was very nervous that she'd get the score, but she fell just short thankfully - I'm ready for the Quarter Finals, my surfing and equipment all feel great and I'm confident."

Sarah Baum Sarah Baum continues stomping her way through clutch heats and now finds herself into the Quarterfinals. - WSL / Beatriz Ryder

Sarah Baum has been gaining momentum throughout this event and her win over Hawaii's Moana Jones Wong sees her through to the Quarter Finals.On Baum's opening ride in today's heat she displayed a series of powerful and precise top-to-bottom turns which were rewarded with an excellent 8 point score and that ride was decisive in her taking the win over Jones-Wong.

"That first wave was really good for me, I thought I was too deep on the take off but it actually panned out well, allowed two good sections and I got my best score," said Baum. "I have a great support team here, they help me a lot and I'm looking forward to these final two days and getting a great result."

The other three women's Quarterfinalists decided today at Manly included Silva, Teresa Bonvalot, and former CT elite Nikki Van Dijk.

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Morgan Cibilic, Michael Rodrigues, Ryan Callinan turn in excellent 16-point heat totals, Caitlin Simmers continues to sizzle on her backhand, plus Alyssa Spencer sears into Quarterfinals.

After finishing in fifth place on the 2021 Championship Tour Rankings and claiming the coveted title of Rookie of the Year, it was a shock to see Morgan Cibilic miss the Mid-season Cut and fall from the CT to the CS less than 12 months later. Today at Manly, Cibilic continued to bounce back from the dissapointemnt, posting the third highest heat total of the day with an excellent 16.00 point two-wave total. Ciblic's precise and lightning quick backhand was on full display as he booked himself a spot in the Round of 16 at the Sydney Surf Pro.

"That was a great heat for me to win today," Ciblic said. "The last few heats, I haven't really been that well prepared for the heats but I made an effort to get back to the basics, prepare properly and well, the results are there and going forward I will remain focused."

Ryan Callinan Ryan Callinan's aerial antics notched him one of the best performances in the event so far. - WSL / Beatriz Ryder

The main competitor to out score Cibilic today at Manly was his fellow Novacastrian Ryan Callinan who posted a 16.77 heat total to comfortably win his heat. Callinan's total included a 9.00 point ride for a massive full rotation air-reverse to the flats.

A former winner here at Manly, Deivid Silva knows what it takes to get a CT qualification campaign underway in the small shifting peaks of Manly. The super quick goofy-footer put on a frontside, rail surfing clinic to post his mid-range score and progress into the Round of 16 and guarantee a keeper result before leaving Australia.

"I have won this event before (2018) and I feel I can win again," said Silva. "The ocean conditions are very hard but these waves are really similar to what I surf on my home beaches in Brazil so I know I can surf well here, my equipment is specialized for these waves so let's go for these final days."

Other standouts included reigning event winner Leonardo Fioravanti who took a commanding win in his Round of 24 heat as well as Michael Rodrigues who again posted an excellent heat total with his speed and finesse on the rail.

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Rio Waida Indonesia's prominent talent Rio Waida kept his dreams alive with another clutch performance. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Northern Beaches duo Jordan Lawler and Dylan Moffat continued their charge towards Finals Day, both booking themselves a spot in the Round of 16 as Lawler looks to repeat his win from 2019 at this same beach.

One of the world's fastest developing surfing regions is Asia and the two Indonesian's competing on this year's Challenger Series are showcasing a window into the future of what we can expect from this talent pool of great surfers from great surfing locations. Rio Waida and Ketut Agus have both advanced to the final 16 surfers and the exciting pair have the moves to take on all comers in the coming days.

A 7:15 a.m. AEST call will determine a possible start to the GWM Sydney Surf Pro.

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