Courtesy of WSL – World Surf League
Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast/QLD (Friday, January 27, 2017) – Another massive day of action has gone down at the iconic Australian point break if Burleigh Heads for day two of the 2017 Flight Centre Burleigh Heads. Conditions improved this morning with light winds grooming the still small 1-to-2 foot waves. Event organisers ploughed through another 24 heats completing Round two of the Men’s and Women’s.
After narrowly missing out on qualifying fro the elite Championship Tour (CT) at the end of last season, former World Junior Champion Isabella Nichols (Sunshine Coast/QLD) has kicked of 2017 with a new lease on competing. Nichols pulled on the contest jersey for the first time this season in Heat 1 of Women’s Round two and made it clear she means business. In the small soft conditions Nichols’ sharp forehand attack looked flawless as she posted the highest heat total of the event so far, an excellent 17.50 (out of a possible 20)
“I was a bit concerned about the conditions before that heat,” Nichols said. “Once we paddled out there was a flurry of waves so it was all good, and everyone has to deal with the same conditions. The end of last year was a bit frustrating but it has really motivated me for this year. I have been training and surfing a lot and am excited to compete in 2017.”
Kingscliff local Codie Klein only just progressed through her Round two heat at the Flight Centre Burleigh Pro. The powerful goofy footer found herself in third spot and holding priority with only a few minutes left. Klein stayed strong with priority until a decent set wave came her way. Codie unleashed a number of solid backhand snaps and was rewarded a single wave score of 7.25 (out of a possible 10) to progress into Round three.
“Moments like that are what you train for,” Klein said. “It’s stressful needing a score to progress when you have priority and the waves are slow. Staying calm in those situations is something I have been working on a lot recently so to put that work into practice was good. It was great to see my work pay off in a heat.”
Former CT competitor Dimity Stoyle (Sunshine Coast/QLD) is no stranger to the Flight Centre Burleigh Pro having taken the event out in 2015. Stoyle has returned in 2017 to get her competitive season of and running. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Stoyle who only just progressed in second with a mid-range heat total of 12.25.
“I haven’t had a heat for so long so felt pretty shaky in that heat,” Stoyle said. “I feel like I was lucky to make that heat, my wave selection was poor and it was a tough heat. It is great to be competing at Burleigh again. The waves aren’t amazing at the moment but whenever you enter the event there is always the chance of getting classic Burleigh with no one out. If that were to happen it would be the best contest in the world.”
Fresh from winning three events in a row, current women’s World Junior Champion Macy Callaghan (Avoca/NSW) took to the water at Burleigh in Round two as the event reigning champion. Callaghan barely missed a beat in Heat 5, posting her winning heat total of 11.25 early and utilising priority to control the heat in its entirety.
“I’ve been surfing a lot of heats recently so am feeling good,” Callaghan said. “It isn’t the sort of Burleigh we would all love to have for this contest but it is still fun. I was just enjoying myself out there which always helps in heats I think. If you are having fun things will tend to go your way.”
Californian goofy footer Nolan Rapoza was surfing in fast forward in his Round two heat at Burleigh. With a light onshore breeze puffing up and the small surf on offer, Rapoza looked light and agile on his equipment. He nailed backhand re-entry after backhand re-entry and floated sections down the line to post an excellent single wave score of 8.00 to go into his heat total of 14.25 to progress through the round.
“I thought I saw a few good one before the heat and then once I got out there it seemed to slow down,” Rapoza said. “Eventually I thought I’m just going to go for anything and got that 8.00. Once I had that it was all good. I swapped onto a board I haven’t surfed much but it is just a bit smaller and flatter so suited the waves today, it felt good and really fast.”
Brazilian Victor Mendes showed there is a way to surf nearly perfectly in the small challenging conditions that Burleigh offered on Day 2 of competition. Mendes found one of the bigger longer walls of the day and went to work on his backhand, smashing snaps and throwing spray to post a near perfect single wave score of 9.75 for his heat total of 17.50 – the highest of the men’s event so far.
“I wasn’t expecting to find a wave like that,” Mendes said. “It just kept offering sections so I just kept doing turns and then all of a sudden I was almost at the beach. It felt really good and I’m really stoked with how surfed that heat.”
Making the short drive up to Burleigh from Coolangatta was Mitch Parkinson for his first heat in the Burleigh Pro for a few years. Parkinson relished in the small conditions but only managed a midrange heat total of 9.85 to progress into Round 3.
“It was a long wait for the good ones but when they came they were pretty fun,” Parkinson said. “It would be amazing if there more waves on offer but it ‘s just good to be surfing a comp at Burleigh. I missed the entry for last years comp so I’m stoked to be in it this year.”
Another Coolangatta local who made the trip to Burleigh today was Sheldon Simkus. Simkus was unstoppable in his first competitive appearance of the year. The stylish natural-footer posted an excellent 9.00-point single wave score for a number of front-side manoeuvres to go towards his heat total of 17.00.
“That was super fun out there,” Simkus said. “Being able to compete at an event at home is really special. It’s so relaxing just waking up in your own bed and being in an area your super familiar with, it makes it easier for sure.”
The 2017 Flight Centre Burleigh Pro is proudly supported by Flight Centre, Tourism and Events Queensland, Telstra, City of Gold Coast, 90.9 Sea FM, Health Insurance Fund, Australian Skin Cancer Clinics, World Surfaris, Coastalwatch PLUS, Pages, Queensland Government, World Surf League and Surfing Queensland.
|About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.
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