Manuel, Weston-Webb shine at Manly Beach

It’s been nine years since I was in Australia. Hopping into the way-back machine and dialing up 2008, you’d find me in the scorching summer streets of Melbourne, checking out the Aussie Millions poker tournament, as well as the Australian Open tennis center.

Every winter (or summer, given the alternate hemisphere), it seems like I’m transported back there because the surf season remains down under for weeks on-end. After last week’s Surfest events handed out the year’s first significant Qualifying Series points, two more huge contests will further develop the early-season leaderboards this week at Manly Beach in Sydney.

Both Malia Manuel and Tatiana Weston-Webb stayed true to form, advancing through their third-round heats on Tuesday. The (somewhat patronizingly named) Girls Make Your Move Women’s Pro is the counterpart to the men’s Australian Open of Surfing. Each are QS 6,000 contests that can further aid in qualifying or re-qualifying efforts for some of the world’s best.

Manuel faced a stiff challenge from Australia’s Holly Wawn in round three, but each advanced through the four-woman heat with scores topping the 15-point mark. Manuel pulled off an 8.17 on her final effort to eke out the win. She’ll now match up with fellow Championship Tour standout Sally Fitzgibbons and New Zealand’s Ella Williams in round four.

The final heat of round three showcased a busy Weston-Webb earning a heat win after picking off 12 waves throughout the session. Her two best equaled a 13.20 total, good for the victory along with Peruvian Melanie Giunta. Maui’s Summer Macedo was also in that lineup but could not advance further.

Weston-Webb now has a tough heat in round four against France’s Pauline Ado and New Zealand’s Paige Hareb. Hareb just reached the final heat at last week’s Surfest women’s contest, falling just short of the title against Johanne Defay.

In addition to the two Kauai girls, Brisa Hennessy and Alessa Quizon are still alive in round four among the 24 remaining competitors vying for the crown. Those two Oahu natives will be in the same heat, along with American CT performer Sage Erickson.

Hennessy continues to impress at such a young stage in her career. She’s won each of her first two heats, including a win over Defay in round three. She took an equal 17th place at Surfest and she’s guaranteed to at least repeat that accomplishment this week.

On the men’s side, Koa Smith took a second place in his opening heat to advance into round two on Monday. He was one of just two bright spots for the Hawaii boys on the day. Nine competed in round one, but only Smith and Josh Moniz advanced through their respective four-man heats.

They joined Ezekiel Lau, Keanu Asing and Torrey Meister, who each had byes into the second round. Hopefully there are better waves and performances on tap for that crew moving forward through this event.

The men’s second round got underway Tuesday with Julian Wilson getting things going in style. He earned a perfect 10.00 ride in the opening heat of the day, leading to an 18.00 two-wave total and a convincing victory. Wilson is one of the favorites to make a deep run on his home turf and he’s setting the bar quite high for anyone hoping to challenge him down the road.

Additional round two results were unavailable as of press time.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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