Byron Bay’s Soli Bailey surfed in his debut event at Duranbah Beach at the Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast after qualified for the Championship Tour last year.
Soli got off to an encouraging start by advancing from round one in second place against Griffin Colapinto and Owen Wright.
He moved into round three and drew one of the top seeds in Filipe Toledo. Soli put in a solid performance and it looked like becoming an upset win for the rookie as he led the heat up to the final four minutes, but an excellent ride from Toledo followed by a quick backup sealed Bailey’s fate to finish in equal 17th place.
Bailey sported both the Indigenous and the Australian national flags on his CT jersey. Surfers wear numbered jerseys during World Surf League (WSL) events so that judges and fans can easily identify them in the water from the shore.
‘As much as I was super excited to represent Australia and what we stand for, it was also an opportunity for me to show some love, and show a bit of my culture,’ Bailey said.
‘I am part of the Yaegl people which consisted of [people] from Maclean, right through to Coffs Harbour, and that is Bundjalung Country. I’m an Indigenous Australian going to compete against the world,’ Bailey said.