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Byron Shire
March 21, 2023

Kennedy chasing WSL return

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Lennox Head surfer Stu Kennedy took another step toward his goal of returning to the World Surf League Championship Tour with a semifinal finish at the Burton Automotive Pro in Newcastle last week.

With a semifinal finish up against a huge international field, Lennox Head’s Stu Kennedy was the best of the locals who competed at Newcastle’s Merewether Beach for the Burton Automotive Pro last week.

Joining Kennedy at the a WSL QS 6000 rated event were fellow local professional surfers Matt Wilkinson and Soli Bailey from Byron Bay, and Adam Melling from Lennox Head. 

Wilkinson and Bailey started with strong heat wins in the round of 96 while Kennedy and Melling had solid second places to all advance into the round of 48. 

On a day that saw multiple major upsets, many past and present CT competitors fell to lower seeds in the draw including Wilkinson, who was eliminated by less than half a point.

Bailey and Melling also suffered defeats that saw an end to their campaign while Kennedy survived the difficult conditions and advanced in second place to the round of 24 where he stepped up his energy and posted a heat win and then followed that up with another in the top 16 man-on-man round, scoring an excellent 8–point ride to impress the judges. 

Kennedy blitzed his quarterfinal and just came up short in his semifinal to finish in equal third place and win US $5,500 and 3,550 valuable QS points.

He now has a keeper result in the bag for his quest to fight his way back onto the WSL Championship Tour.

Mikey Wright from Culburra Beach won the event. 

Stephanie Single from Lennox Head had a great start with a powerful heat win in round one of the Grandstand Sports Clinic Women’s Pro but failed to find any rhythm in slow conditions in her round two heat and was eliminated from competition.

Meanwhile, Byron Bay’s Kyuss King finished runner-up in the four-man final at the 2018 Key Sun Zinke Sydney Pro Junior, which featured punchy two-foot peaks at Manly Beach.

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