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Quarterfinalists Decided at GWM Sydney Surf Pro

Hanneman and Fitzgibbons Find Diamonds in The Rough at Narrabeen; Brazilian Contingent Dominate Round of 16; Championship Tour Hopefuls Breakthrough to Quarterfinals

13/Mai/2024 - WSL

NORTH NARRABEEN, Sydney, NSW, Australia (Sunday, May 12, 2024) - The field has been narrowed to the Quarterfinalists at the GWM Sydney Surf Pro presented by Bonsoy, Stop No. 2 of the 2024 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series (CS). Another huge day of competition saw the completion of the men’s and women’s Round of 16 in more shifty, chunky and challenging surf in the four-to-five-foot range at North Narrabeen.

Hanneman and Fitzgibbons Find Diamonds in The Rough at Narrabeen 

Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) has continued to separate herself from the pack at North Narrabeen, putting on an excellent performance in tough conditions to post a 16.10 two-wave total (out of a possible 20) to convincingly beat fellow former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Bronte Macaulay (AUS) in the Round of 16. Having already earned a third-place finish on the Challenger Series this year, Fitzgibbons is in the hunt for another big result here on her quest for CT requalification. Fitzgibbons’s heat total is the highest for the event so far. 

“It’s great to have so many people on the beach and swell on a Sunday, there’s such good energy here,” Fitzgibbons said. “It was good to come up against my good mate Bronte in the heat. She’s incredible and capable of big scores so I know I had to go hard. When I saw that big section and hit it then rode out it felt amazing, especially with the energy coming from the beach.” 

Similar to Fitzgibbons, young Hawaiian Eli Hanneman (HAW) is looking to get back to the CT after falling off just a few weeks ago in Margaret River. After a major buzzer-beater comeback yesterday, Hanneman got busy early today, throwing multiple airs and progressive maneuvers early to take control of the heat with a 16.06 two-wave total, the second-highest of the event so far.

Brazilian Contingent Dominate Round of 16 

The first four heats of the morning saw Brazilian winners, which set up back-to-back all-Brazilian Quarterfinals when competition resumes Ian Gouveia (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA), Alejo Muniz (BRA), and Samuel Pupo (BRA) were all victorious in their Round of 16 matchups. With all four surfers landing on the same side of the draw, we are guaranteed to see a Brazilian competitor in the Final when it runs. 

One of the most impressive performances of the morning came from Samuel Pupo (BRA), who has guaranteed his best-ever finish at the GWM Sydney Surf Pro. Pupo came up against form surfer Dimitri Poulos (USA) and knew that with a heat win, he’d be close to taking a rankings lead by the end of the week here in Sydney. Pupo posted a 7.33 with one turn to end up with a two-wave total of 13.83, which was enough to take the heat win. 

“We’ve (the Brazilian group) had a good Australian leg on the Challenger Series so far, which has been cool to see that we’ve got something good going on,” Pupo said. “I feel like I’ve been surfing well in all of my heats and making the right decisions. I have been focussing on being really present, which has been key – always expecting the best out of my opponents, which helps to push me and my surfing,” 

Championship Tour Hopefuls Breakthrough to Quarterfinals 

Former World Junior Champion Vahine Fierro (FRA) is a competitor who has been knocking on the door of CT qualification for a number of years now but hasn’t quite been able to string a number of results together at the Challenger Series level. After a runner-up finish in Ballito last year, the hard-charging Tahitian hasn’t found her way back to Finals Day until today, when she overcame former CT competitor Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) to book a spot in the Quarterfinals, where she will take on Nadia Erostarbe (EUK). 

“I asked my mum this morning what she wanted for Mother's Day, and she told me she just wanted me to win that heat,” Fierro said. “I was like, okay, I’ll try. The conditions were super tough out there. It was hard to find the waves with opportunity, and I think that was reflected in the scores. I felt like I was behind for the whole time in that heat, but I had to keep reminding myself I had priority and to stay on my feet.” 

After a knee injury hampered his 2023 Challenger Series season, Gatien Delahaye (FRA) has come into 2024 fighting fit and keen to string some good results together. Today, he got his campaign off and running, overcoming former CT competitor Caio Ibelli (BRA) to book a spot in the Quarterfinals. Delahaye surfed a smart heat, using priority well and capitalising on the few opportunities he had, winning the heat with a two-wave total of 12.10. 

“This feels really good; I’ve dedicated so much time to this. I had a knee injury last year and missed a lot of events. I’ve been working hard to get back, and I’m glad I can put last year behind me now. Coming up against Caio was always going to be tough as he is a CT surfer and always so solid. I really needed to stay calm and keep to my plan, and I’m just so stoked I made it into the Quarterfinals.” 

Heat 7 of the men’s Round of 16 saw Californian duo Taro Watanabe (USA) and Kade Matson (USA) go head-to-head. Matson looks to find his way back to the Championship Tour level, and Watanabe looks to earn a career-best result. It was a close back-and-forth all heat, but in the end, it was Watanabe who found a spot in the Quarterfinals and the best finish of his career at a Challenger Series event. 

In a repeat of the 2023 GWM Sydney Surf Pro Quarterfinal, Heat 6 of the Round of 16 saw Bella Kenworthy (USA) face former CT competitor Macy Callaghan (AUS). Both surfers had moments throughout the matchup, but it was Kenworthy who walked away with the win once again at North Narrabeen.

Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) had her good run of form brought to an end at the hands of Yolanda Hopkins (POR) who has been looking right at home in the chunky beach-break peaks on offer this week. After six equal 9th-place finishes at the Challenger Series level, Hopkins has guaranteed her best result with a Quarterfinal berth here in Sydney.

Northern Beaches Icons Wind Back The Clock in Bonsoy Legends Heat 

The last heat of the day saw a group of Northern Beaches surfing icons take over the lineup at North Narrabeen for a 40-minute spectacle to see who still rules the roost and entertain the solid Sunday crowds that lined the shore. 

Surfers included 2018 Grand Masters World Champion Rob Bain, Two-time World Champion Tom Carrol, Former CT competitor and big wave world record holder Laura Enever, two-time World Champion and North Narrabeen Boardriders Club President Damian Hardman, and CT event winner Nathan Hedge. 

ll five surfers traded waves and had their moments, but it was Laura Enever who earned the biggest highlight of the session for a long left-hander with multiple turns completed on the sand.

The next call will be tomorrow, Monday, May 13, at 7:15 a.m. AEST for a possible 7:35 a.m. start.

GWM Sydney Surf Pro Presented By Bonsoy Men’s Round of 16 Results: 

HEAT 1: Ian Gouveia (BRA) 11.66 DEF. Jordy Maree (RSA) 11.50

HEAT 2: Miguel Pupo (BRA) 10.93 DEF. George Pittar (AUS) 9.26

HEAT 3: Alejo Muniz (BRA) 13.60 DEF. Alister Reginato (AUS) 13.34

HEAT 4: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 13.83 DEF. Dimitri Poulos (USA) 9.80

HEAT 5: Eli Hanneman (HAW) 16.06 DEF. Joan Duru (FRA) 9.93

HEAT 6: Jordan Lawler (AUS) 13.60 DEF. Levi Slawson (USA) 12.24

HEAT 7: Taro Watanabe (USA) 9.67 DEF. Kade Matson (USA) 8.23

HEAT 8: Gatien Delahaye (FRA) 12.10 DEF. Caio Ibelli (BRA) 10.84

GWM Sydney Surf Pro Presented By Bonsoy Women’s Round of 16 Results: 

HEAT 1: Vahine Fierro (FRA) 12.37 DEF. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 11.17

HEAT 2: Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) 13.83 DEF. Zoe Benedetto (USA) 7.06

HEAT 3: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 13.56 DEF. Kirra Pinkerton (USA) 13.00

HEAT 4: Erin Brooks (CAN) 14.67 DEF. Teresa Bonvalot (POR) 12.17

HEAT 5: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 16.10 DEF. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 10.44

HEAT 6: Bella Kenworthy (USA) 10.67 DEF. Macy Callaghan (AUS) 10.17

HEAT 7: Yolanda Hopkins (POR) 13.03 DEF. Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW) 7.00

HEAT 8: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 9.66 DEF. India Robinson (AUS) 5.90

GWM Sydney Surf Pro Presented By Bonsoy Men's Quarterfinal Matchups: 

HEAT 1: Ian Gouveia (BRA) vs. Miguel Pupo (BRA)

HEAT 2: Alejo Muniz (BRA) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)

HEAT 3: Eli Hanneman (HAW) vs. Jordan Lawler (AUS)

HEAT 4: Taro Watanabe (USA) vs. Gatien Delahaye (FRA)

GWM Sydney Surf Pro Presented By Bonsoy Women's Quarterfinal Matchups: 

HEAT 1: Vahine Fierro (FRA) vs. Nadia Erostarbe (EUK)

HEAT 2: Alyssa Spencer (USA) vs. Erin Brooks (CAN)

HEAT 3: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Bella Kenworthy (USA)

HEAT 4: Yolanda Hopkins (POR) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)