Brazilian surfer scorches in Tweed Coast Pro opener
A BRAZILIAN surfer returning to elite competition for the first time in four years has dominated the first day of action at the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) Tweed Coast Pro at Cabarita.
Jihad Khodr was a force on the elite Championship Tour in the late 2000's, but after losing a major sponsor, Khodr stuck to only competing in events near his home in Brazil.
Surfing in his first QS heat since 2013, Khodr set the tone in testing conditions yesterday, to post a dominant heat total of 14.75 (out of 20).
"It's so exciting to be back competing in Australia and this area especially," Khodr told Surfing NSW.
"Last time I was here was for the CT at Snapper. I'm just thankful that I am competing again and that my family could help me get here."
Australian Jayke Sharpe was also a standout, with the natural-footer progressing to Round three with a heat total of 14.50.
A promising junior who competed in the World Junior Championships and beat star surfer Julian Wilson in a Pro Junior Final at Burleigh Heads, is back on track after taking time off from surfing in 2013 to focus on a building career.
"I'm really enjoying being back at a contest," Sharp said.
"I moved from Coffs Harbour to Sydney to do my carpentry apprenticeship, so I kind of gave up on the competitive surfing thing for about five years.
"I moved home at the start of last year and started surfing again and just began to feel really good with it. I just thought it would be cool to have a crack in a comp and If I go well I go well and If I don't, I don't.
"I've got really low expectations at the moment, but if I keep making heats I might have to re-access where I'm at in my competitive career."
Caribbean surfer Timothy Bisso finished runner-up at the 2015 World Junior Championship in Portugal and is in Australia preparing for an all out assault in the 2017 QS.
The goofy-footer continued his Burleigh QS form where he finished third at Cabarita yesterday to post a 13.60 on his way to Round three.
In the women's, Northern Beaches surfer Tru Starling caught nine waves in her 20-minute heat, including one ride which handed her a 7.50 (out of 10), which was the equal highest single wave score of Round one.
"It's a completely new experience for me surfing here as it's my first time," Starling said.
"I have surfed around Cabarita but not this spot. It is really nice."
Of the local contingent, Tweed Heads junior star Kobie Enright made her way into Round four this morning, with a Round three combined score of 11.00.
Fellow Tweed surfers, Zahli Kelly is also through to Round four after posting a 14.00 to tie for first in Heat four this morning, while Alyssa Lock (heat eight) and, Codie Klein (heat 12) hit the water for the first time later today.
In the Men's draw, Round three competition is on standby, but Tweed surfers Quinn Bruce and Sheldon Simkus are through to Round four.
The Tweed Coast Pro QS1,000 runs from February 1-5 and is broadcast live at www.worldsurfleague.com and on the WSL App.