Yesterday the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing at Manly Beach saw the field that started with over 100 of the best Pro Junior (U21) surfers reduced to just two Finalists in the women’s draw and four Semifinalists in the men’s.
The action didn’t stop all day as the surfers went to work in the three-foot punchy peaks and, with precious ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series points on the line, there was no holding back.
Matt Banting (Port Macquarie) reigning Hurley Australian Open of Surfing champion in both the Pro Junior and open 6-Star Qualifying Series divisions, sent a warning shot to his fellow competitors with a devastatingly dominant performance today.
Banting launched and landed multiple giant aerials as he stormed through the draw all the way to the Semifinals where he has matched-up against Italian surfer Leonardo Fioravanti.
‘I’m really happy with the way things are going at this event so far’, said Banting. ‘It’s really tough to draw Cooper (Chapman) in the Quarterfinals, it was a good test for me and it was also great preparation for the 6-Star QS division to have a really hard heat this early.
‘When I won this event in 2012 I had no pressure and it was like I was free-surfing in my heats, I’m really trying to do that again here. I don’t like surfing heats doing three turns to the beach like the old days, I just want to go out there, go big and have fun.’
Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy) defeated Jackson Baker (Newcastle) in an exciting Quarterfinal encounter. Fioravanti found two solid scores, while Baker was left with only one. Fioravanti has been one of the most consistent performers at the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Pro Junior this year, posting excellent scores, and executing critical turns and airs in every heat.
‘I’ve got Matt (Banting) in the Semifinals, it’s going to be a hard heat, but I’m not going to give up. I’m going to try and go all the way’, said Fioravanti. ‘There’s so many people on the beach right now, it’s the weekend at the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing and the sun is out and the beach is crowded. It’s great!’
Jacob Willcox (Margaret River) overcame a massive hoodoo when he won his Quarterfinal against Kanoa Igarashi (USA) on the day, Willcox has been eliminated in the Quarters at the last two events and was elated to be one of the final four surfers standing in the Pro Junior division of the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing.
‘It was a really fun Quarterfinal and Kanoa (Igarashi) is a great surfer’, said Willcox. ‘At the last couple of events I’ve lost in really close Quarterfinals, so I’m really happy to finally get through this one. This is a really cool event, it feels like being at an ASP World Championship Tour event, rather than a Pro Junior, it’s a great experience for us young guys.’
Soli Bailey (Byron Bay) stepped back into the No. 1 spot on the ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series ratings today, after being bumped to No. 2 at the last event in Maroubra. Bailey is in red-hot form, earning the highest single wave score of the event – 9.90 (out of a possible 10) for a monster air-reverse that saw him take off and land right in the critical section of the wave earlier this morning.
‘The level of surfing at this event has stepped up’, said Bailey. ‘I saw my Round 2 heat, how many good surfers I was up against and I couldn’t believe it. Then in the Quarterfinals there were some big international guys and the heats were all really tough.
‘I didn’t have a solid plan going into this event, I just wanted to get on a roll and post a big result and it’s happening. I’m really looking forward to the Semifinals.’
Bronte Macaulay (Margaret River) won through to the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Pro Junior final today after defeating current No. 1 rated surfer Keely Andrew (Sunshine Coast) in the Semifinals.
Ellie-Jean Coffey (Gold Coast) last year’s ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series champion also won through to the Final of the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Pro Junior. Coffey had to match-up against her younger sister Holly-Sue Coffey in the Quarterfinals and Laura Poncini (AUS) in the Semifinals, but used her solid backhand surfing to easily advance through both heats.
The open men’s and women’s ASP 6-Star Qualifying Series divisions will get underway today starting with the Round of 144. Some of the surfers to hit the water this week include reigning ASP Women’s World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Dane Reynolds (USA), Julian Wilson (AUS), Tiago Pires (PRT) and many more.
For more event information log on to www.AustralianOpenofSurfing.