Massive crowds have braved unruly weather to line the shores of Manly Beach and watch 11-time WSL World Champion Kelly Slater hit the water and compete at the 2019 Vissla Sydney Surf Pro, World Surf League Qualifying Series event.
The greatest surfer of all time didn’t disappoint, taking out his opening heat against QS warriors Vincente Romero, Ramzi Boukhiam and Victor Bernardo. 47-year-old Slater made light work of the small conditions on offer at Manly, speeding through turns and slicing sections to overcome his opponents.
“I haven’t surfed a QS event in so long especially in small waves like this so I was really aware that anything could have happened today,” Slater said. “There is not a lot of separation between surfers when the waves are like this. It really comes down to who gets the best waves, but I also knew that the three guys I was up against are really talented and super competitive. Arriving at the beach today was pretty crazy with all of the people — I could really feel the energy being focused on me, especially because I haven’t surfed here in so long.”
Slater, who once resided on the Northern Beaches for half the year during the late 1990s and early 2000s was over the moon to return to such a familiar place to get his 2019 competitive season underway. The last time he competed in Sydney was in 2004 when he won the Australian Open at Maroubra.
“The last time I was here I won in Maroubra and then went to Newcastle and won there so let’s hope I can get that kind of roll on again,” Slater continued. “It is really cool to be back in Sydney though, I love flying in over the Harbour and just the feeling of being in a big city that still has beautiful beaches and great surf — It’s a really unique and special place.”
After winning the heat, Slater progresses into Round 3 where he will surf in Heat 5 against three of the QS’s inform surfers including Alex Ribeiro, who is fresh off a win in Newcastle last week, CT competitor Jesse Mendes and Frenchman Charly Quivront. Heat 5 will likely hit the water at approximately 3:30 pm AEDT tomorrow.