- WSL / Cait Miers

The 2023 Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 5,000 is off and running with the opening two rounds of men's competition running at Kingscliff today. Competitors battled blustery conditions with strong onshore winds accompanying the two-to-four-foot surf, with cleaner conditions expected for the remainder of the event window.

Event Site Kingscliff Beach Event Site. - WSL / Cait Miers

The standout performer in the tough conditions was Kiwi competitor Korbin Hutchings (NZL), who found two double-up runners amongst the chop and lay down a series of super quick rail turns and snaps to earn the highest combination of the day. Hutchings claimed the win with a two-wave total of 13.23 (out of a possible 20) and moves into the Round of 64.

"It was definitely hard work out there," Hutchings said. "I was heading out there just trying to think positive thoughts and focus on having fun. Once I got that first seven-point ride, I felt pretty comfortable and knew I wouldn't need too much of a backup. It looks like this is the worst day of the window, so the next few days should be really fun, which I'm looking forward to."

Korbin Hutchings Korbin Hutchings punting into the Round of 64. - WSL / Cait Miers

The opening heat of the Men's Round of 96 saw a tight battle between Ben Spence (AUS) and young Hawaiian Jackson Dorian (HAW) in a battle for the backup scores. Both competitors locked in midrange waves early before patiently waiting for an opportunity. It was a long wait in the end, with each competitor relying on low-range scores to get them through, with Spence and Dorian dispatching Dom Thomas (AUS) and Cooper Puttergill (AUS), who finished in third and fourth, respectively.

"I moved from Western Australia to the Tweed Coast around a year ago to make competing a little easier, so it's cool to have an event so close to my new home," Spence said. "I had some excellent experiences competing last year and have come into this season feeling really energised, so I'm keen on a big result here as I aim to compete at the elite level."

Ben Spence Ben Spence was a standout on Day 1. - WSL / Cait Miers

Alex Mcguffin (AUS) and Spencer Kay (AUS) were also able to find their way into the Round of 64 with impressive heat wins before the deteriorating conditions saw competition called off for the day early in Round 2.

Event directors will reconvene at 7:00 a.m. local time tomorrow to make another call on competition with a likely start back at Kingscliff with the remainder of the men's Round of 96.

The 2023 Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro will run from February 10 - 16.

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