Manly Beach, NSW/AUS (Friday, March 2, 2018) - After another mammoth day of action at the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 6,000 event, the field has been narrowed and the contest is moving quickly toward the pointy end. Manly Beach has continued to provide competitors with great waves as all eyes look towards what will no doubt be an epic weekend of surf action.
Fresh off a recent win at the Burton Toyota Pro QS6,000 event, one would assume that Mikey Wright (AUS) would be feeling overly confident as he goes through the rounds of the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro. However, Wright’s current approach to forgetting about previous results and attacking what is in front of him is clearly paying dividends as he took out his Round 4 exchange against young dynamo Reef Heazelwood (AUS) and Mateus Herdy (BRA). Wright nailed a chain of exciting backside snaps to notch up a decent 15.66 two-wave heat total to gain the upper hand against Heazlewood who advanced in second position.
“The waves were really fun out there even with the higher tide,” said Wright. “I don’t feel overly confident off those recent wins, I’m just focusing on what is in front of me and forgetting about the day before. Ever since I was little, I’ve tried to just take every heat as a new thing.”
In what was a heat stacked with former and current Championship Tour surfers Keanu Asing (HAW), Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) and Griffin Colapinto (USA) went hell-for-leather as they looked to cement themselves a position into the fifth round. Asing’s game plan of sitting wide for the beginning of the heat proved to be smart tactical move as he put a handful of above-average scores on the board. Asing executed a flurry of impressive backside snaps to finished the heat with a 13.60 two-wave total and take the heat from Dantas and Colapinto who finished in second and third respectively.
“I wanted to get a quick start and post two quick scores before locking in something substantial,” said Asing. “The other guys were down the beach, so I figured I’d get a score on the board and then go and play the priority game. I knew I had to be smarter and make sure I was on the better waves. When you’re surfing against guys who are as good as Griffin and Wiggolly, you really need to make sure you give it everything you’ve got.”
After taking out the Volcom Pipe Pro QS3,000 earlier this year, Hawaii’s Josh Moniz (HAW) was set up for a stellar 2018 season, that was until he suffered from a staph infection and had to pull out of the first 6,000 event at Newcastle. After making a quicker than expected recovery, Moniz jumped on a flight and prepared for the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro. The last-minute call to come to Manly paid dividends in his Round Four match-up as he took a dying seconds win over former CT competitors Stu Kennedy and Matt Banting. It was a nail-biting heat with only 0.16 points separating the three surfers.
“I feel like I had some good momentum leading into Newcastle then had to pull out,” Moniz said. “I was prepared to miss both of the events and then recovered a little quicker than I was supposed to so got on a plane and came to Sydney and it feels good to have the ball rolling again. Although this is a super different event to the one at Pipe for waves, the preparation is the same so I was confident that I’d be ready for anything.”
Former World Junior Champion Macy Callaghan (AUS) came bursting out of the gates in her Round Four match-up with Hawaiian duo Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and Zoe McDougall (HAW). Callaghan posted her winning heat total of 14.57 on her first two rides leaving McDougall and Weston-Webb to duel it out for the second progressing spot. After missing out on qualifying for the Championship Tour in 2017 by one spot, Callaghan is keen on going one step further this year, and she is off to a good start with a Round Five berth at the Sydney Women’s Surf Pro.
“I was pretty devastated after missing out last year,” Callaghan said. “It was hard to take but it was an awesome learning experience. This year I feel a lot more confident in myself and my surfing which definitely helps when surfing heats at this level. I’m really excited about the year ahead and am really keen for a big result here at Manly.”
Usually known for her prowess in punchy surf, Northern Beaches native Holly Wawn (AUS) showed she was more than capable of dominating in the small conditions when she posted two excellent scores to amass a 17.84 heat total to take the Round Five victory over current World Championship Tour surfer Nikki Van Dijk. Having recently taken out the Vissla Great Lakes Pro at Boomerang, Wawn attributed her current form to the support of her family and ignoring the hype surrounding her fellow competitors.
“It’s really cool competing here and having a bunch of friends and family at the beach cheering me on,” Wawn said. “It really does spur you on having that kind of support. I’m aware that these girls have competed at the top level and are going to be tough to beat but I know what I’m capable of. I just focus on getting two good waves, and today I did that so
The Vissla Sydney Surf Pro Is proudly supported by the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The event will also be proudly supported by Vissla, Northern Beaches Council, WSL and Surfing NSW.
Words: World Surf League
Photos: Ethan Smith (WSL)