Competition Kicks Off in Newcastle For Burton Automotive Pro QS 5,000

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Competition has kicked off at the 2023 Burton Automotive & Speaking in Colour Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 5,000 event, the final regional QS of the ‘22/’23 season for the Australia / Oceania and Asia regions. Competitors in the opening rounds of the men’s event battled in bumpy, wind-affected two-to-three foot surf for the completion of the Round of 112 and half of the Round of 96.

Competition Kicks Off in Newcastle For Burton Automotive Pro QS 5,000 -
Hughie Vaughan was on finre on Day 1. – WSL / DARREN ANDERSON

South Coast upstart Lennix Smith (AUS) is enjoying a great first season at the QS level, having already won a QS 1,000 and finishing equal fifth at a QS 3,000. Smith continued his solid run of form today at Merewether, winning both his Round of 112 and Round of 96 heats. Although Smith has enjoyed serious success already in 2023, the 18-year-old keeps his aspirations in check, aiming for an improved seed for the regional tour in 2023 rather than a spot on the Challenger Series as he continues building experience at the higher levels of competition.

“It’s been a great year for me, and I’m stoked with my results, especially given how hard everyone is ripping,” Smith said. “This year is all about getting as much experience at the QS level as possible, surfing against the bigger older guys, and looking to improve my rank for next season. It’s my first time competing at the QS at Surfest, and it’s cool to be around it. There’s a lot of history and big guys competing, so it’s a great experience.”

Competition Kicks Off in Newcastle For Burton Automotive Pro QS 5,000 -

Another pair of youngsters who shone on Day 1 at Merewether was Indonesia’s Bronson Meydi (INA) and Central Coast super-grom Hughie Vaughan (AUS), who booked spots in the Round of 64. Vaughan displayed his impressive repertoire, going left and right, to the air and on the face; he posted scores every which way to win his Round of 96 match-up, with Meydi progressing in the second spot.

Japanese competitor Monnojo Yahagi (JPN) was one of the standout performers on the opening day of the competition, posting the highest heat total of the event so far. Yahagi’s heat win included an excellent 8.00 point ride for three massive frontside gouges that saw him take a comfortable win at Merewether.

“That wave was so good,” Yahagi said. “I took off and saw the section and hit it; then it gave me another one, then another one – it was perfect. Each section got better as well, so I could push harder. It feels good to make that heat and continue in the event. With better waves on the way, I’m stoked to continue in the competition.”

Competition Kicks Off in Newcastle For Burton Automotive Pro QS 5,000 -
Monnojo Yahagi. – WSL / DARREN ANDERSON

Spain representative Sean Gunning (ESP) was able to find some form in the shifting peaks in Heat 3 of the Round of 96, posting an impressive two-wave total of 13.27 to win his match-up. Former Championship Tour competitors Ricardo Christie (NZL) and Nathan Hedge (AUS) were also able to progress through the Round of 96 as well as Micha Margieson (AUS).

The 2023 Burton Automotive and Speaking in Colour Pro WSL QS 5,000 event will run from March 19 – 26, 2023.