The WQS surfers faced wind-blown 3-4ft (1-1.5m) waves throughout the morning, competing in front of a massive crowd who were also enjoying one of the more warmer days Newquay has seen in recent weeks.
WQS events always showcase the exciting young talent moving through the surfing world ranks, but the Boardmasters is also blessed to have some of the ASP World Tour’s elite in town for the week. Tour veteran Megan Abubo (HAW), Sam Cornish (AUS), Jacqueline Silva (BRZ) and 2006 ASP World Tour ’Rookie of the Year’ Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) are four of the higher profile surfers who competed today.
Former European Champion Caroline Sarran (FRA) was another ASP World Tour surfer competing today, advancing through her morning heat with 15-year-old Rip Curl trialist Canelle Bulard (FRA).
Bulard has started the European Junior circuit on fire this year and was excited about competing her first ever WQS event. Although she was pleased to advance through Round 1, Bulard was later eliminated by Jacqueline Silva (BRA) and Laurina McGrath (AUS) in the Round of 24. Australian Tour veteran Melanie Redman-Carr was the other casualty in the heat.
"I’ve been on tour for six years now and I am definitely focused on getting back there again this year," said McGrath. "After two years in the elite Top 16, I had some tough time with an injury that kept me out of the water for a while last year, but it’s all on again and I’m glad I won this heat."
Former Women’s Pipeline Master Alana Blanchard (HAW) was always going to bring something special to the 2007 Rip Curl Boardmasters and she quickly impressed with a solid Round 1 win against some tough competition. Blanchard, who is "the face" of Rip Curl’s female marketing, defeated Serena Brooke (AUS), Julia Christian (USA) and Garazi Sanchez (EUK) in Heat 2 of Round 1.
"It’s my first important contest this year and I am looking forward to doing a heap of these events next year," said Blanchard, explaining that this is her first professional contest of the year.
"That was a good first heat. The situation changed a lot and I’m glad I got those two last waves that pushed me to first spot."
Unfortunately for the 17-year-old Kauai surfer, her run was cut short in the next round when 2006 ASP World Tour ’Rookie of the Year’ Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) pulled off some last minute heroics to eliminate Blanchard.
Miley-Dyer dominated Round 1 earlier in the morning, posting the day’s highest heat score in Heat 5 - a two-wave combined score of 15.67 points. The Australian struggled a little in Round 2 though, forced to sit in third place for most of the 20-minute heat behind Nikita Robb (ZAF) and Blanchard. With less than 3 minutes remaining her luck changed though and the goofy-footer locked in a 6.60 and a 6.37 to jump into first. Blanchard was knocked to third and out of the event.
"I was hating that heat there for a while," laughed a relieved Miley-Dyer after the heat. "I actually didn’t know if I’d got through until I got back to the admin area - I couldn’t hear the announcers. Luckily I did though, so I’m stoked."
"I like coming to Newquay, because it’s a cool little town. Not everyone thinks ’surfing’ when you talk about England, but the waves are actually okay here and it’s plenty of fun. It’s an important event too, so I want a good result."
"I expect myself to do well in every event I compete in and it’s no different here," continued Miley-Dyer, who finished fourth overall here in 2006. "I had a good result here last year and want to make the finals again this week."
The day’s biggest upset came in Heat 9 of Round 1, when defending champion Claudia Goncalves (BRA) was eliminated from the event by ASP Women’s World Tour surfer Rebecca Woods (AUS) and French WQS campaigner Amandine Sanchez (FRA). Goncalves failed to find rhythm, finishing the heat with a low 3.50 point two-wave combined score.
Californian Julia Christian and French star Pauline Ado pulled off another upset in Heat 4 of Round 2, finishing first and second respectively ahead of Jaimee Wheatley (AUS) and Samantha Cornish (AUS) to advance through to Round 3.
Cornish is one of the world’s most experienced surfers, but neither Ado nor Christian were intimated in the match-up.
"I am 100 per cent focused on the Junior Regional Title, but it would be really pleasant to get a good result here," explained Ado. "My junior career is what counts most right now, but it is very important for me to get some experience against the best surfers and learn to deal with pressure."
Both the Women’s Davidoff Cool Water Wave WQS competitors and the Men’s Rip Curl Boardmasters WQS competitors will meet onsite at Fistral Beach at 7am tomorrow for an expected 8am start to competition. The surf forecasts predict consistent 2-3ft (0.5-1m) waves tomorrow and good weather.
All of the Rip Curl Boardmasters Surf & Music Festival action will be broadcast live online here at: www.ripcurlboardmasters.com