LAGUNDRI BAY, Nias, Indonesia (Saturday, September 16, 2023) – Beautiful, clean four-to-six foot surf welcomed competitors to Lagundri Bay today for the continuation of the 2023 Nias Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 5000. Men’s Round of 32 was completed, as were Men’s and Women’s Rounds of 16. With the swell decreasing and losing consistency through the day, an increase to thirty-minute heat times allowed for exciting and dramatic moments.
One surfer taking advantage of the extra time on the clock was reigning World Junior Champion Jarvis Earle (AUS), who found the highest single wave score of the event after torquing his body upside down through an intensely critical two-turn combo on his backhand for a near-perfect 9.60 (out of a possible 10) on the five-minute countdown in his Round of 16 heat. The humble disposition and eternal smile of the 19-year-old no doubt did little to dispel the fear in his competitors, especially after he collected the two highest heat totals of the day.
“It was pretty tricky conditions out there and it was a really stacked heat,” Earle said. “All the boys were ripping and have been ripping in their previous heats, so I was stoked I got a couple fun ones and ended the heat with that 9. I still think I’ve got a bit left in the tank, but I’ve definitely been happy with my performances. Hopefully I can keep it going through the next heat tomorrow.”
In his first appearance at the Nias Pro, Javanese surfer Febri Ansyah (INA) provided one of the highlights of the Round of 32, an epic frontside barrel collecting applause from across the beach, though he was unable to fight through a stacked Round of 16 heat in the afternoon, a fate shared by Westen Hirst (INA). A priority interference on Made Mahendra (INA) by 2018 event winner Ketut Agus (INA) in the Round of 32 cost Agus a place in the Round of 16, with Mahendra also eliminated in the same heat. Fellow countrymen Varun Tandjung (INA), Dhany Widianto (INA) and local Nias surfer Kevin Wau (INA) also lost out in the Round of 32 after producing great surfing in earlier rounds, leaving Rio Waida (INA) as the sole Indonesian surfer represented on Finals Day.
Dakoda Walters (AUS) continued to fill the highlight reel, even after splitting his heel open during an attempt to land yet another impossibly smooth air reverse. Walters moved into the Quarterfinals alongside Riaru Ito (JPN), who was on a heater of his own. Ito collected the first excellent score of the day, an 8.50, for a solid backhand barrel in his Round of 32 heat, before claiming the next highest heat total of the day behind Earle in the Round of 16.
Oscar Berry (AUS) rounded out the top half of the draw for the Quarterfinals, alongside Ito, Waida and Walters, which split the draw in half between regular-footers and goofy-footers, with Jordy Maree (RSA), Tully Wylie (AUS) and Jack Thomas (AUS) joining Earle in the bottom half.
The first heat of the Women’s Round of 16 was tense, with all-important Asia Regional QS points on the line for the four Japanese surfers battling for progression into the Quarterfinals. Sara Wakita (ranked No.3), Nanaho Tsuzuki (No. 5), Rina Matsunaga (No. 9) and Mirai Ikeda (No. 11) each held the lead at various moments in the heat, with low scores keeping all surfers in tight lock for two-thirds of the thirty-minute clock, before Tsuzuki found an open canvas to unleash her sharp forehand attack and wrap a huge grab-rail cutback for a more convincing lead. Ikeda soon followed, taking off on a solid set wave and aggressively carving through the face. Wakita and Matsunaga both had last second attempts, but it was Ikeda and Tsuzuki who were able to move on to Finals Day, a first at the QS 5000 level for 15-year-old Ikeda.
“Japanese women’s surfing is very strong,” Ikeda said. “So I felt very excited. It was a really fun heat.”
Two Australian veterans came up against two Japanese juniors in a classic battle of nations for Heat 3 of the Round of 16. Experience paid off as Australia’s Philippa Anderson and Freya Prumm advanced over Japan’s Sai Maniwa and Sumomo Sato. Anderson pushed the limits on a forehand hack that set the Novocastrian’s fins free and garnered her first excellent score of the event, an 8.27.
“I’m really happy to be in the Quarterfinals,” Anderson said. “I got quarters at Krui, so super happy to get there, but the drive is to win the event. Out here it’s kind of like a couple waves at a time, still a lot of water moving. But yeah, I’m really happy I got the board vertical a couple times. I do feel like there is a bit of a rhythm out there, there’s quite a few waves. Maybe I could have improved my wave selection, but going into the quarters I’ll just set up and watch. This is my first time in Nias, so I’m still learning about the place.”
Australian juniors Mia Huppatz, Ellie Harrison and Rosie Smart also progressed to the Quarterfinals, as did Kiwi veteran Paige Hareb, who again claimed the highest women’s numbers of the day.
All competitors have been asked to be on standby at 7:00 a.m. for a possible 7:30 a.m. start for Men’s and Women’s Quarterfinals.
The 2023 Nias Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 5000 and Pro Junior events will run from September 11 – 17 at Lagundri Bay, Nias, Indonesia. For more information or to watch the event LIVE, head to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the Free WSL App.
The 2023 Nias Pro is supported and funded by the South Nias Government.