March 6 - 12, 2016: Issue 254


Australian Open of Surfing finalists (L-R) Mens Runner-up Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy), Mens Champion Dion Atkinson (Seaford, SA), Womens Runner-up Malia Manuel (Hawaii) and Womens Champion Nikki Van Dijk (Phillip Island, Vic).  Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW 


MANLY BEACH, SYDNEY (Sunday, 6 March 2016): by Surfing NSW

Dion Atkinson (Seaford, SA) and Nikki Van Dijk (Phillip Island, Vic) have taken out the Australian Open of Surfing and the Aussie Bodies Women’s Pro respectively at Manly Beach. 

After a couple of days with gruelling conditions, mother nature turned it on for a thrilling finals day with clean three foot waves on offer for competitors.

Atkinson was on fire all event posting excellent wave scores in each of his heats. The former Championship Tour (CT) competitor found himself in the final against young Italian sensation Leonardo Fioravanti, another standout at Manly. It was Atkinson’s experience that prevailed in the peaky beachbreak waves, posting a solid heat total of 14.66 (out of a possible 20) with some incredible power surfing, digging his rails hard on every turn. Atkinson is thrilled to get his 2016 campaign off to a great start as he aims to requalify for the elite CT.

“If someone told me that I would win this comp a few weeks ago I probably wouldn’t have believed them,” Atkinson said. “I feel like I put together a good comp and was able to build momentum through the week - I just can’t believe it. This event is always so daunting with the huge crowds, you can hardly think out in the water with everything going on so I’m pretty stoked with myself to keep it together.” 

“Last year I got pretty close to requalifying right at the end of the year so getting a win like this early in the year is huge for me.”

Fioravanti, although coming just short for the second time this week - after a runner-up finish at Newcastle Surfest - is also setting a solid foundation for 2016.

“This is a great start to my qualifying campaign,” Fioravanti said. “Two seconds in a row is pretty tough to deal with but it is a good result regardless. The support this week has been amazing, huge crowds and seeing these Italian flags on the beach everyday was really cool.”

Van Dijk built momentum through each of her heats even eliminating local favourite and defending champion Laura Enever in the semifinals. The current world No. 10 left her best performance for the final posting two excellent scores a 9.66 and an 8.33, leaving runner-up Malia Manuel needing a combination score of 17.94 for the majority of the heat. Van Dijk posted her scores on lefts and rights going hell for leather on every turn she did. 

“I’m so over the moon to win here at Manly,” Van Dijk said. “The waves were really fun today I felt like I was surfing a rip-bowl at home. Malia was surfing really well all event so I‘m stoked to get the win. There are so many people down here it’s such an amazing atmosphere on the beach. I’ve had the best week.” 

Manuel’s performance was strong all event posting some massive scores, but was unable continue this in the final against her fellow CT competitor Van Dijk. 

“I’m really happy to make the final,” Manuel said. “Posting some good scores and making some heats is a great way to relieve some stress before the next three CT events. Making the podium is always a good feeling so hopefully I can keep this going.”

Live event coverage of all the competition was webcast at

General information is available at:  •  #ausopenofsurf

Owned and operated by IMG, with the support of the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, and Manly Council, the 2016 Australian Open of Surfing is expected to draw crowds in excess of the 255,000 people who flocked to Manly for the event in 2015.

Legends Expression Session: Sunday March 6th: 2016 Australian Open of Surfing

There’s hardly a more intimidating lineup of former pro goofy-foot heavyweights than these four – Tom Carroll, Barton Lynch, Mark Occhilupo and Damian Hardman.

Between them they’ve won a total of seven WSL World Titles, dozens of elite tour event wins and had hundreds, maybe even thousands of heats against one another since beginning their careers in Sydney waters as teenagers. Now, these Aussie legends and former world-beaters will paddled out in a special commemorative heat during the Australian Open of Surfing at Manly.

The Sydney Champions Expression Session will saw these guys pull on jerseys and reignite the competitive fire that made them the champions of their day. 

“We went through some of the craziest competitive years of our lives together … the intensity is hard to describe in words,” explains Carroll. “At Manly in particular, Dooma (Damian Hardman) going vertical on the rights during the 1988 Coke Classic, I’ll never forget watching that, and I absolutely loved winning this event Manly in 1987… I took out Pottz (Martin Potter) in the final which was really tough at the time!”

“The theatre that is Manly has some real vibrant energy that I love the feel of, and I enjoy connecting with the local rippers and older hard core guys who surf no matter what the conditions present. A sense of history prevails which is undeniable and rubs off easy.”

 Sunday: Legends Expression Session:  Barton Lynch, Damian Hardman, Mark Occhilupo and Tom CarrollPhoto by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW 

 Barton Lynch - 'BL'. Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW 

 Damian Hardman - 'Dooma'. Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW 

 Mark Occhilupo - 'Occy'. Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW 

 Tom Carroll - 'TC'. Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW 

 Laura Enever - photo by Bennett / WSL 


MANLY BEACH, SYDNEY (Saturday, 5 March 2015): by Surfing NSW

Competitors made the most of a challenging two-foot swell today at the Australian Open of Surfing as competitors across the mens and womens division fought to seal themselves a spot into tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy) kept the ball rolling on his 2016 qualification campaign, eliminating Shun Murakami (Japan) from the event in the fifth round. The lightening fast natural-footer showed impeccable timing through a series of powerful frontside turns to post a heat total of 12.80. Fioravanti will face off against local surfer Cooper Chapman (Narrabeen, NSW) in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

“I was just trying to survive today to make it through to tomorrow, when there’s hopefully a bit more swell,” said Fioravanti. “When it’s this small, it’s important to not do anything wrong; one little mistake can cost you the whole heat and with it being this small, you need to maximise every opportunity as you don’t know when you’ll get another one.” 

Deivid Silva (Brazil) managed to perform a multitude of giant backside snaps to book himself a position in the quarterfinals. In the all goofy-footer heat, Silva was able to post an excellent 8.17 wave score (out of a possible ten points), which put fellow competitor and countryman Robson Santos (Brazil) on the back-foot, needing a near-perfect 9.74 to take Silva’s lead. 

“I’m so happy to have won that heat, even though I had surf against my friend [Robson],” said Silva. “To get this far in a QS6000 feels great and will help me with my seed going into the rest of the year.”

South Australian, Dion Atkinson (Seaford, SA) continued to defy his big wave rep. The Seaford local was in divine rhythm against Jonathan Gonzalez of the Canary Islands, lucking into every decent head-high wave to outpoint Gonzalez 15.17 to 8.0. The win sets up an anticipated quarterfinal for Atkinson with Heitor Alves of Brazil.

“What was a bad heat for Jon turned out to be the perfect heat for me,” said Atkinson. “I didn’t really have to hunt around for waves, which is a nice feeling because in these kind of conditions anything can happen really. You can go out with the best intentions and then it all goes out the window. A win’s a win, I’ve got a great board and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.” 

Kalani Ball (Stanwell Park, NSW) took a narrow win over Joshua Moniz (Hawaii) to move into tomorrow’s quarterfinals, the furthest he’s ever progressed in a QS6000 event. Ball opted to rely on rail-to-rail surfing in lieu of his renowned aerial repertoire, which resulted in him taking the victory over Moniz by a slim 0.34 margin.

“I had a bad start to that heat, but thankfully I was able to turn it around later and just sneak into the lead,” said Ball. “I decided to focus on my rail surfing a lot more this event as I was seeing a lot of guys not getting big scores for small airs and so far it’s been paying off.” 

Mihimana Braye (Tahiti) kept the hope alive for the Tahitian surfing contingent taking out a tight battle over Vicente Romero (Spain). Braye executed a chain of mammoth backside snaps to take the victory with a 12.27 heat total.

“I got off to a good start in 2016, getting a fifth in the World Juniors and I have a good seed going into the prime rated events,” said Braye. “I might change my gameplan going into the quarterfinals to being more selective with the man-on-man priority, but I’ll just remain relaxed and stay as focused as possible.”

Tomas Hermes (Brazil) caused one of the biggest upsets of the event so far eliminating current World Championship Tour surfer Matt Wilkinson (Copacabana, NSW). Hermes kicked off the heat with a massive bang, posting a near-perfect 9.17 wave score, followed by a 9.00, giving him an excellent 18.17 heat total.

“I’m so stoked to have got to the final day,” said Hermes. “I’m pretty focused at the moment and I know there’s no easy heats, I’m really trying to remain this way as I go into the quarters tomorrow.” 

Defending Australian Open of Surfing champion and local Laura Enever (Narrabeen, NSW) mirrored a similar performance that saw her take victory at last year’s event, notching up a 17.23 heat total and eliminating Kim Veteau (GLP) from the competition. Enever put on a near flawless clinic in the exchange bashing out a series of critical backside snaps to take the victory. 

“I keep getting a bit stressed about getting to my heats on time and when I get here I need to refocus,” said Enever. “I’ve been working a lot with Glenn Hall [former World Championship Tour surfer and coach] and he’s really been keeping my head on and ensuring I stay on top of my gameplan.”

Pauline Ado (France) earned her place in the quarterfinals, taking out Keely Andrew (Sunshine Coast, Qld) with a 14.67 heat total. Ado joined Justine Dupont as one of the two remaining French surfers left in the women’s heat draw. Ado will face off with Enever in tomorrow’s quarterfinals.

“I didn’t do too well in Newcastle so there was a bit of pressure to do well in this event,” said Ado. “It’s a relief to get the win as the waves are super tricky. You could get good waves, but often they would not really eventuate into much and you could miss the opportunity to get good scores. I’ve been surfing against Laura for a long time and I know she can be really dangerous, I’m just going to try my best really.”

Tyler Wright (Culburra, NSW) had another brilliant day in Manly, smashing her way to tomorrow’s quarterfinals. The World Championship Tour surfer scored a 9.17 wave score to take the win ahead of event standout Maud Le Car (France) in their man-on-man battle. 

“I actually can’t really remember that 9.17 (laughs), but I’m stoked to have locked it in,” said Wright. “I’m really just trying to remain as calm as humanly possible as I get closer to Snapper because I know how hectic things become once the tour begins in a weeks time.” 


Women, Round 6 

Heat 1

2 Kobie Enright AUS                         Top Scores:  4.97 + 4.10   Total:   9.07

1 Bronte Macaulay AUS Win by 2.7 Top Scores: 76.17 + 5.67   Total: 11.84

Heat 2

1 Malia Manuel HAW    Win by 1.1    Top Scores: 06.17 + 6.07  Total: 12.24

2 Holly Wawn AUS                              Top Scores: 6.27 + 4.87    Total: 11.14

Heat 3 

1 Justine Dupont FRA  Win by 0.73   Top Scores: 7.93 + 7.33    Total: 15.26

2 Dominic Barona ECU                       Top Scores: 7.70 + 6.83    Total: 14.53

Heat 4 

1 Tyler Wright AUS  Win by 1.47         Top Scores: 9.17 + 4.00    Total: 13.17

2 Maud Le Car FRA                             Top Scores: 6.17 + 5.53    Total: 11.70

Heat 5 

2 Keely Andrew AUS Comb.               Top Scores: 3.57 + 3.07    Total:  6.64

1 Pauline Ado FRA Win by 8.03         Top Scores: 7.67 + 7.00    Total: 14.67

Heat 6

1 Laura Enever AUS Win by 10.67    Top Scores: 9.73 + 7.50     Total: 17.23

2Kim Veteau GLP                                Top Scores: 3.73 + 2.83     Total:   6.56

Heat 7

2 Philippa Anderson AUS                    Top Scores: 6.33 + 4.83     Total: 11.16

1 Georgia Fish AUS Win by 1.04         Top Scores: 6.30 + 5.90    Total: 12.20

Heat 8

1 Nikki Van Dijk AUS Win by 1.16      Top Scores: 6.67 + 4.83      Total: 11.50

2 Dimity Stoyle AUS                              Top Scores: 6.17 + 4.17     Total: 10.34

Women, Quarterfinals: Sunday March 6th

Heat 1: Bronte Macaulay AUS, Malia Manuel HAW 

Heat 2:  Justine Dupont FRA, Tyler Wright AUS 

Heat 3: Pauline Ado FRA,  Laura Enever AUS 

Heat 4: Georgia Fish AUS, Nikki Van Dijk AUS

Men, Round 5

Heat 1 

1 Leonardo Fioravanti ITA Win by 2.40 Top Scores: 7.33 + 5.47  Total: 12.80

2 Shun Murakami JPN                             Top Scores: 5.57 + 4.83  Total: 10.40

Heat 2

2 Ricardo Christie NZL                            Top Scores: 5.07 + 5.00   Total: 10.07

1 Cooper Chapman AUS Win by 3.66   Top Scores: 7.33 + 6.40  Total: 13.73

Heat 3

1 Deivid Silva BRA Win by 6.54            Top Scores: 8.17 + 6.17   Total: 14.34

2 Robson Santos BRA                            Top Scores: 4.60 + 3.20   Total:   7.80

Heat 4

1 Kalani Ball AUS Win by 0.34               Top Scores: 7.67 + 6.17   Total: 13.84

2 Joshua Moniz HAW                               Top Scores: 7.00 + 6.50  Total: 13.50

Heat 5

1 Heitor Alves BRA Win by 3.50             Top Scores: 8.17 + 5.33   Total: 13.50

2 Marco Fernandez BRA                         Top Scores:  5.73 + 4.27  Total: 10.00

Heat 6

2 Jonathan Gonzalez CNY                       Top Scores: 4.17 + 3.83   Total:   8.00

1 Dion Atkinson AUS Win by 7.17          Top Scores: 8.17 + 7.00   Total: 15.17

Heat 7

1 Mihimana Braye PYF Win by 1.11      Top Scores: 6.67 + 5.60   Total: 12.27

2 Vicente Romero ESP                           Top Scores: 5.83 + 5.33   Total: 11.16

Heat 8

2 Matt Wilkinson AUS                              Top Scores: 7.00 + 6.83   Total: 13.83

1 Tomas Hermes BRA Win by 4.34       Top Scores: 9.17 + 9.00   Total: 18.17

Men, Quarterfinals 

Heat 1:  Leonardo Fioravanti ITA, Cooper Chapman AUS

Heat 2:  Deivid Silva BRA, Kalani Ball AUS 

Heat 3: Heitor Alves BRA,  Dion Atkinson AUS 

Heat 4: Mihimana Braye PYF, Tomas Hermes BRA

Event Schedule: Sunday, 6th March, 2016

7:30a - 9:10am     Aussie Bodies Women's Pro: Quarters (H1 - 4) Surf Stadium

9:10a - 10:50am Men: Quarters (H1 - 4) Surf Stadium

10:50a - 11:40a Aussie Bodies Women's Pro: Semifinal 1 & 2 Surf Stadium

11:40a - 12:30p Men: Semifinal 1 & 2 Surf Stadium

12:30p - 1:00p Sydney Champions Expression Session Surf Stadium

1:00p - 1:35p         Aussie Bodies Women's Pro: Final Surf Stadium

1:35p - 2:10p         AOS Men: Final Surf Stadium

2:10p - 2:30p         Awards Ceremony Surf Stadium


The 2016 Australian Open of Surfing runs from 27 February – 6 March.

Owned and operated by IMG, with the support of the NSW Government through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, and Manly Council, the 2016 Australian Open of Surfing is expected to draw crowds in excess of the 255,000 people who flocked to Manly for the event in 2015.

The nine day, one-of-a-kind festival will bring together some of the world’s top athletes in surfing and skateboarding combined with two days of live concerts on the music stage, art/photo installations and interactive sponsor displays – all taking place on iconic Manly Beach, Sydney.

All events are free and open to the public.

Live event coverage of all the competition will be webcast at and live on Channel Nine on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th March and Fox Sports 4th – 6th March.

 Cahill Bell-Warren  - photo by Surfing NSW/Ethan Smith


MANLY BEACH, SYDNEY (Friday, 4 March 2015): by Surfing NSW

Another sunny day with two-to-three foot waves has greeted competitors on Day 5 of the Australian Open of Surfing and Aussie Bodies Pro at Manly Beach. The field has been narrowed from 144 Men and 72 women down to the final 16 in each division.

The first heat of the day was taken out by young Italian ripper Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA). Fioravanti has continued his momentum since finishing runner-up at Surfest in Newcastle last week. Known for his ability in the air, Fioravanti opted to keep it on the face to post a 6.30 and an excellent 8.33 (out of a possible 10) for a heat total of 14.66 (out of a possible 20).

“I feel like through these early rounds it’s about trying to survive,” Fioravanti said. “It’s all about posting scores that will get you through but once it goes to man-on-man heats, that’s when you have to start to go big. I just try and surf smart, do what I know will get a score and use my priority, it seems to be working so far.”

Former CT competitor and Brazilian powerhouse Heitor Alves (BRA) used his years of competitive experience to grind his way through a busy heat. Alves managed to find a couple of waves that opened up as he wound down the line bashing a number of forehand hits to post a modest heat total of 11.87 and progress to Round 5.

“It was a hard heat to get through but a great heat because I won,” said Alves. “I was watching the last few heats before so I felt confident with the game plan I had. I have been surfing out the front here all week which I don’t usually do but I have really focused on surfing this bank and it’s working well.”

Malia Manuel (HAW) found herself in a sticky situation in her Round 4 heat being in third spot for the entire heat trailing young Australian’s Macy Callaghan and Bronte Macaulay. Needing a medium score, Manuel took a wave in the dying seconds to post a 6.73 and move into first. The CT competitor was lucky to win with only 0.30 points dividing the 3 competitors

“My adrenaline was pumping all through the heat,” Manuel said. “I’ve been watching that righthand bank all week so I went and sat on it today and just hoped something would pop up on it. I feel like it was a bold move to sit up there away from the other girls, especially when I wasn’t finding any waves, then that one came out of no where and I thankfully got the score.”

Another CT competitor who found herself trailing for the majority of the heat was the No.1 seed Tyler Wright (Culburra, NSW) who searching for a score to progress to Round 6. Wright eventually found a right that she smashed two big snaps on, throwing huge amounts of spray to move into first and move closer to the finals.

 “I tried to be patient for that heat and couldn’t really find a wave,” Wright said. “There wasn’t many coming through, I was stoked that when I was needing a score I got it. I just stayed calm and kept telling myself a wave would come and when it would I’d be able to get the score.

Australian Open of Surfing defending Champion Laura Enever continued her excellent run through the event utilising the two peaks on offer to post an excellent 8.33, backing it up with a 6.10 with a good display of forehand and backhand surfing.

“The waves are difficult today but I just moved between the two banks and managed to get a couple of good scores,” Enever said “I like surfing beachies so I feel this event suits me. I’ve been doing well at the QS events and not so much at the CT’s so I hope I can carry this form into Snapper and the rest of the tour.”

Bronte Macaulay - photo by Bennett / WSL 


MANLY BEACH, SYDNEY (Thursday, 3 March 2015): by Surfing NSW

Day four of the Australian Open of Surfing saw an exciting day of men’s and women’s action, in punchy three-foot Manly peaks, as competition edged closer to finals day.

Current World Championship Tour surfer Matt Wilkinson (Copacabana, NSW) put on a similar display that saw him take out the prestigious Surfest event in Newcastle last week. The goofy-footer found a handful of lengthy right-handers in the wave-starved heat, which allowed him to bash out a variety of different snaps and post a respectable 13.43 heat total (out of a possible 20 points). 

“That heat was really tricky,” said Wilkinson. “I got one half decent wave and one good solid wave, but I didn’t feel like I surfed the solid one very well. I’m still feeling really good after the win in Newcastle, so with any luck I can carry a bit of momentum as we get closer to the finals.”

Fellow Central Coast surfer Wade Carmichael (Avoca, NSW) also put on a dominant performance, notching up a 16.27 heat total. Carmichael is still firing on all cylinders after taking a victory at the Komunity Project Great Lakes Pro a fortnight ago at Boomerang Beach and is feeling comfortable in the punchy beachbreak conditions. Carmichael eliminated event standout Joan Duru (France), who posted the only perfect ten-point ride of the event - thus far - yesterday.

“Conditions are definitely tricky, but there’s some room for big clean turns if you get the right wall,” said Carmichael. “I’ve found that you need to get those clean double up waves and time the sections properly. If the waves stay the same, I’ll be sticking to the same plan tomorrow.” 

Mateia Hiquily (Tahiti) showed why he was the 2015 Australian Open of Surfing runner-up performing a barrage of mammoth backside hooks on the punchy righthanders. The light-weight goofy footer flew over a series of tricky and flat sections in the heat and as a result, posted a 13.67 heat total and booked his spot into the fourth round where he’s set to face Kalani Ball (Stanwell Park, NSW) and Deivid Silva (Brazil). 

“I’m treating every heat like it’s a final,” said Hiquily. “I have a really good board under my feet and the confidence is building with every heat I surf. The waves are massively different to last year, so my gameplan has changed a little, but if you find the right waves there’s still some decent opportunities to get some decent scores.”

Local standout Cooper Chapman (Narrabeen) continued to eliminate top-seeds from the event, eliminating 2016 World Championship Tour debutant Kanoa Igarashi (USA) from the event. Chapman took a progressive approach into the round three battle performing a range of giant aerial manoeuvres and was rewarded with a 16.83 heat total.

“I’m feeling pretty comfortable out there in the Manly lineup,” said Chapman. “Over the last few heats, I’ve found there’s a fair few opportunities to put decent scores on the board for combinations of turns and it seems to be working so far. At this stage though, there’s no easy heats, so I’m just trying to remain focused and get through one heat at a time.”

Defending women’s champion Laura Enever (Narrabeen, NSW) took out one of the most stacked heats of the event, claiming victory over former World Champion Sofia Mulanovich (Peru) and current World Junior Champion Isabella Nichols (Coolum, Qld). Enever dropped an excellent 9.40 wave score and edged ahead of Nichols to win the seesaw battle. Both surfers are advancing through to tomorrow’s fifth round.

“Coming back to an event as defending champion is foreign ground for me,” said Enever. “I have just been trying to enjoy the ride in this event and not give up until the end. Being at home for an event is definitely a good feeling.”

Tyler Wright (Culburra) stormed into the next round of the Australian Open of Surfing, posting a massive 15.40 heat total. Wright attributed her current form to the work she’s been doing with former World Championship Tour surfer and coach Glenn “Micro” Hall.

“It’s always good to get the first heat out of the way,” said Wright. “Having Glenn on board as a coach has helped me a lot and I’ve learned so much from him already. I think he’s helped me keep my competitive life balanced and he’s helped me improve in so many aspects of my career.”  

Macy Callaghan (Avoca, NSW) caused one of the early upsets of the event, eliminating World Championship Tour surfer Sage Erickson (USA) in round four. The young Central Coast surfer put on an exciting performance in the heat posting an excellent 16.54 heat total, which left all her fellow surfers chasing two-wave combinations to steal the lead.

“I couldn’t be more stoked to win that heat,” said Callaghan. “I knew there was an incoming tide, so I thought I’d be best to hang inside a little and wait for those waves that hugged the bank.” 

 Stu Kennedy - photos by Surfing NSW/Ethan Smith


MANLY BEACH, SYDNEY (Wednesday, March 2, 2016): by Surfing NSW

The Australian Open of Surfing has continued today at Manly with round two of men’s being completed in two-foot surf on a mechanical right-hand bank as the strong swell of Tropical Cyclone Winston continues to dissipate. 

Kanoa Igarashi (USA) took to the water in the first heat of the morning while the wind was still relatively light. Igarashi looked focused as he continues to build towards his debut Championship Tour (CT) event at Snapper next week. Igarashi’s methodical approach saw him post two solid scores for a heat total of 15.20 (out of a possible 20) to progress to round three.

“The Snapper event is always in the back of my mind,” Igarashi said. “It’s difficult to focus on a heat at this event when I know I’ll be paddling out in my first CT event next week but this is a great way to warm up and get my head into contest mode. This event is massively important for me though, I do want to get the points and have a great start to the year." 

Northern Beaches local Cooper Chapman (Narrabeen/NSW) is enjoying surfing at an elite level contest in his own backyard. Chapman surfed with a huge variation in the manoeuvres, looking sharp and comfortable on his equipment. His comfort with his board was almost jeopardised when he snapped the nose off yesterday but luckily he had it repaired ready for this morning.

“It’s nice competing close to home - it’s the only time of the year I can do it,” Chapman said. “I do feel more pressure competing in front of a home crowd, but still feel lucky to do be able to do it. I was a bit nervous before that heat so glad to get it out the way. This board is my favourite; I got it at the start of the year and have loved it. Yesterday I snapped the nose off surfing at home but got it fixed and it seemed to hold up.” 

Connor O’Leary’s (Cronulla/NSW) big frame was not a problem in the small soft waves he had to work with today. The powerful goofy-footer hammered the right-handers all the way to the shoreline. O’Leary went vertical on a number of turns to earn a near perfect 9.13 (out of a possible 10) as he continues to set his sites on the CT.  

"Coming from Cronulla I’m used to getting smaller beach break waves in summer so home is a pretty good training ground for me,” O’Leary said. “After coming so close to making the CT at the end of last year I realised you can't take these early events for granted, you have to stay focused and keen to win for the entire year. I got a Quarters finish at Newcastle so I'm keen to continue that form here and set myself up for a great competitive season."

Michael Dunphy (USA) was given the daunting task of competing against CT powerhouse Michel Bourez (Tahiti). The veteran Bourez had moments of brilliance, but it was Dunphy who was able to string his heat together surfing well too the conditions to post a modest heat total of 12.87 to win the heat and continue into Round 3. 

“Michel is obviously such an amazing surfer - really powerful,” Dunphy said. “I really love his surfing and look up to him but I feel like in waves like this I can overcome him or anyone really. I feel like the last year I have been surfing really well but it just hasn’t transitioned into results, so I’m glad to make that heat.”

Carlos Munoz (CRI) took a huge gamble in his round two heat opting to sit on a completely different peak to everyone else in his heat. This payed off as Munoz found a number of right-handers that offered a great end section for the young man from Costa Rica to take to the air or layback on. He will surf again in round three. 

“I really want to make it to the CT,” Munoz said. “I’ve been aiming to make it for almost four years now so this year I’m feeling really good and more knowledgeable than ever. I feel like I could go all the way at this contest.” 

Former CT competitor Dion Atkinson is generally known for his powerful surfing in big powerful waves, not the sort of waves on offer at Manly today. Atkinson was not phased as he still managed to throw his big frame around with buckets of spray with some impressive forehand hacks. Atkinson posted a heat total of 13.83 to win his heat. 

"The waves are pretty hard out there but coming from Seaford on the mid-coast of SA has helped me to handle these conditions," Atkinson said. “When you come to this event your never expecting incredible waves so you just take what you get given. Manly is a pretty special place for me, I’ve been coming here since I was doing Junior contests and even got my only 10-point-ride here which is funny as I’m a bigger guy. Every year I make my main goal is to re-qualify so hopefully I can keep this momentum through this event and into the next ones."

 Australian Open of Surfing standout Cooper Chapman (Narrabeen, NSW) cementing his position into the third round. Photo by Ethan Smith / Surfing NSW.