Bethany Hamilton : photo Jake White/Surfing Queensland
Central Coast Pro
ASP 1 Star WQS Mens Event
ASP 1 Star WQS Womens Event
Soldiers Beach, Central Coast NSW
20 - 23 April 2006
HAMILTON EARLY EXIT - BUT TRULY INSPIRATIONAL
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 20 April, 2006 : - - HUNDREDS of local school kids took advantage of the school holiday period today to witness shark attack survivor Bethany Hamiltons debut World Qualifying Series (WQS) contest appearance at the Central Coast Pro. The Central Coast Pro is being held at Soldiers Beach on the New South Wales Central Coast.
And while Hamilton did not progress beyond her first heat, Hamilton proved inspirational to those watching from the shore. I want Bethany to win, said five-year-old Hannah Byron from Wollongong, whose mother, Yvonne, was surfing in the same heat. I read Bethanys book Soul Surfer to Hannah and she has been so excited knowing that she was going to see her surfing today, Byron senior said.
I know everyone was willing Bethany on to win but it wasnt her day today. But her time will come and shes truly inspirational to just about everyone, Byron added. The 16-year-old Hawaiian goofy-footer drew a heat of veteran campaigners including former World Championship Tour (WCT) surfer Byron, who defeated Layne Beachley in the final of a six-star contest at Margaret River last year.
Also in Hamiltons heat was Sandy English. English is not only a six-time Australian champion and the 2003 World Masters champion, but she runs the surf school on this very beach. Hamilton did well to edge out Lyndsay Noyes (Cronulla, NSW) by less than a point. Noyes is ranked 39th on the Womens World Qualifying Series ladder.
It was okay out there I guess, but I really prefer the waves to have a bit more power and push, the Kauia native said. "I am going to concentrate on the nationals in the United States this coming summer and my focus is on the events coming up at home, she added. Mum and Dad and me are going up to Suffolk park and I hope to score some decent waves up there, said Hamilton, who will spend another week in Australia before heading back to Hawaii.
The small conditions on offer at Soldiers Beach for the opening day of the Central Coast Pro forced organisers to delay running any of the scheduled heats of the mens competition. An unseasonally warm day and perfect blue skies accompanied by light offshore winds saw glassy waves of around 0.5 metre.
Organisers delayed proceedings until around 10.30am when the womens event hit the water to take full advantage of small lefthanders peeling off courtesy of the incoming tide. Surfing was abandoned shortly after 2pm due to a lack of swell.
Standout surfers today included south coast sensation Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW) whose light frame reveled in the conditions.
Fitzgibbons has been in scintillating form of late, following up a win at the Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro Teen in Newcastle a fortnight ago with a second placing at the Billabong Girls Easter Surfing Festival on the Sunshine Coast.
Fitzgibbons was edged off the top of the tally-sheet for best wave score today by a quarter of a point that separated her from Sheridan Shields (Bilinga, QLD).
Shields, who is currently ranked 15th on the WQS ladder, also topped the best average heat points register with a 16 out of a possible 20.The powerful natural footer, who will turn 22 next month, looks like she will provide a formidable opponent for Fitzgibbons if they meet in the quarter-finals.
Surfing will recommence tomorrow with a 7am start for the 4 heats of the second round of the womens competition.The mens event will commence directly after the completion of the womens second round at around 8.20 am.
The Central Coast Pro has been made possible by NSW Premiers Department , Wyong Shire Council , The Beachcomber Hotel , Unions NSW , Tooheys Extra Dry , Greater Toukley Vision , ASP Australasia , Surfing Australia , Ark Event Hire , Fuel TV , Sea FM , The Central Coast Sun Weekly , Surfing NSW
# 1 : International army of surfers converge on Soldiers Bch
# 2 : Coming soon
# 3 : Coming soon
# 4 : Coming soon
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