- WSL / Darren Anderson

The stage has been set for a massive Finals Day at the Burton Automotive & Speaking in Colour Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 5,000. The completion of the men's Round of 16 saw Quarterfinalists decided in tricky one-to-two foot surf at Merewether Beach. With only 24 competitors left in the draw, the Challenger Series qualification picture has become clear for a small group of surfers on both the Asia and Australia / Oceania rankings.

George Pittar George Pittar. - WSL / Darren Anderson

2022 Challenger Series competitor Joel Vaughan (AUS) has come into the Burton Automotive Pro with a small chance of finding his way back to the CS and on the hunt for a spot at the elite level. With the likes of Soli Bailey (AUS) and Mike Clayton-Brown (AUS) falling out of the draw, Vaughan has a chance to move up the rankings if he's to continue through Finals Day, and today he gave himself a chance with an impressive win in the Round of 16.

"That was a tough heat with not too many waves on offer so it felt good to get the win," Vaughan said. "It always feels good to get a win when you have to grind a heat out, especially with the quality of surfers in that heat; anyone could have taken that one. I'm trying to avoid looking too much at the rankings at the moment. I know I just need to do really well here and that's all I'm focused on. If I can keep going here I know I could be a chance to move into contention."

Joel Vaughan Joel Vaughan. - WSL / Darren Anderson

Also progressing through the Round of 16 at Merewether were Tenshi Iwami (JPN) and George Pittar (AUS) who both have a chance of moving up the rankings and into qualification on both the Asia and Australia / Oceania regional tours.

With deteriorating conditions at Merewether, the decision was made to call the competition off after the men's Round of 16, leaving the women's Round of 16 and finals to be completed tomorrow.

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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