- WSL / Darren Anderson

Day 2 of the Burton Automotive & Speaking in Colour Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 5,000 event has seen improved conditions with Merewether turning on super clean two-to-four foot surf. It was a successful day for top seeds and former event winners as the women's Round of 64 was completed, as well as the reaming heats of the men's Round of 96.

Thomas Carvalho Thomas Carvalho. - WSL / Darren Anderson

Western Australian ripper Bronte Macaulay (AUS) is competing at Surfest for the first time since she won it back in 2020. The exciting young goofy-footer has returned to Merewether to get some heat practice ahead of the 2023 Challenger Series as she looks to find some form and return to the elite level. Although it was her first heat in over five months, Macaulay looked in great touch, posting the equal highest two-wave total of the event so far. Macaulay's 14.00 point (out of a possible 20) two-wave total came from her razor-sharp backside snaps, which were an obvious highlight on Day 2.

"It feels really nice to be back in Newcastle catching up with friends here and up in Nelson Bay and getting some waves; it's been great," Macaulay said. "I really like the vibe here, and I'm glad I made the trip over. I've surfed this place so often that I feel comfortable here and love it when it's breaking off the rocks. I'm doing this event to try and surf a lot of heats and to get the ball rolling. A good start to the year is super important, so I want to try and get the ball rolling this week in Newcastle."

Bronte Macaulay Bronte Macaulay. - WSL / Darren Anderson

Sharing the equal highest total of the event so far with Macualay was Tweed Heads surfer Kobie Enright (AUS) who earned an excellent 8.00 point ride for a series of big, frontside hooks in the low-tide conditions.

Another former Championship Tour (CT) competitor who has won here in Newcastle is Sunshine Coast local Dimity Stoyle (AUS), who, like Macaulay, is looking to get a run on ahead of the Challenger Series season. Stoyle booked herself a spot in the Round of 32 with a comfortable win in her first heat of this year's Speaking in Colour Pro.

"I arrived here today and looked at the honour board and realised it's been ten years since my win here at this event," Stolye said. "That gave me some inspiration and incentive to get another win at this event this year. I feel like the inspiration kicked in during that heat, and I was stoked to get the win."

Dimity Stoyle Dimity Stoyle. - WSL / Darren Anderson

Currently sitting in second place on the WSL Asia rankings, Nanaho Tsuzuki (JPN) is looking to secure her spot on the Challenger Series with a solid result here at Newcastle. The lightning-quick goofy footer got her campaign off to the perfect start, taking a comfortable win in her Round of 64 heat.

"This is my first time here in Newcastle, and it is enjoyable so far," Tsuzuki said. "The waves in my heat were good when they came, but I think I will have a better tide in my next heat, which will be nice. It will be a tough event with such a good field, but I need to make a few more heats to ensure I finish in the top 2 spots on the Asia rankings."

Current WSL Australia / Oceania regional rankings leader Paige Hareb (NZL) was a shock elimination on the opening day of the women's competition, with the former CT competitor going down in Heat 7 of the Round of 64. With over 11,000 points already to her name, Hareb should be safe in terms of qualification but will no doubt have a nervous wait ahead of her as she waits to see how the rest of the week pans out here in Newcastle.

Earlier in the day, the remaining heats of the men's Round of 96 were completed with youngster Dom Thomas (AUS) stealing the show, posting an excellent 8.50 single wave score for a perfectly executed, full rotation air-reverse. Thomas has moved into the Round of 64 as he looks to secure the best result of his young career.

The 2023 Burton Automotive and Speaking in Colour Pro WSL QS 5,000 event will run from March 20 - 26, 2023.

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