Imagine for a second that you are a professional surfer, you’ve travelled over 30 hours and half way round the world. You have 25 or 30 minutes to make it through your heat, lose and you may not even make enough money to break even on your accommodation. Welcome to the world of a professional female surfer.
The World Surf League’s qualifying series is called the World Qualifying series or the WQS as it’s known takes surfers all around the world chasing enough points to qualify for the World Championship Tour, the WCT or for the WCT surfers to requalify if they drop out of the Top 10. Some years it can mean only to or three surfers will graduate from the WQS to the WCT.
Prizemoney on the WQS is good if you’re winning but takeout all the expenses such as flights, accommodation and food, then you need to be winning but what if you’re lower on the rankings and can not get into a WQS 6000 event then you may have to work your way up through the WQS 1000 events.
A good idea is to team up with other surfers and share the load as sponsorship dollars only go so far, they are more likely to recieve boards and equipment.
A great example of this is Dominic Barona, Melanie Guinta, Silvana Lima and Luchy Cosoleto. These girls travel together and not only share expenses but give support for each other. Having this support is vital and they all want each other to win. If one of the girls bow out of the event, they turn up and support the ones still surfing. It’s a sytem that I have witnessed firsthand.
It’s no doubt the girls are colourful, loud and passionate. Could the Australian girls learn from the South American girls and is this is what makes the South American girls such a force in professional surfing.
I think this support of each other helps celebrate the wins and makes loses easier to bear.
The development on women’s surfing in Australia is helped by the number of WQS events and the rating attached to those events, but which is better?
Having both events available are equally important.
The QS6000 events bring the top WCT and WQS surfers to your local beach. The points are highly valuable and can determine who chases the world title the following year.
The surfing is amazing and it brings an international feel to the event.
The best example of this is Surfest, which is held each year at Merewether Beach in the month of February.
Due to funding and sponsorship the women’s event at Surfest dropped back to a QS1000 event in 2015. The benefit of having this rating meant that we got to see up and coming young surfers with lower rankings compete against some great international surfers.
Surfers like Sophia Bernard, The Greene sisters Mikaela & Eliza, Ellie Brooks and Alyssa Lock got a chance to shine and advance their competitive skills in this QS1000 event.
The benefit from to surfing in Australia is all these young ladies have progressed in the sport, we hope this was due to having events that increased their rankings which then allowed them to tackle QS6000 events.
Move forward to 2016 and Surfest became a QS6000 event and continues to be till this day due to crowdfunding.
A bigger international field is great for young frothing groms, good for increased sponsorship and exposure.
A QS6000 event helps our young aussie girls like Macy Callaghan and Philippa Anderson edge closer to the WCT, a reward for the hard yards.
Towards the end of the year the lower ranked surfers on the WCT, need to hit the WQS events to make sure the requalify for the WCT. This will be evident at the QS6000 Port Stephens Toyota Classic.
This event might not have the same impact, if it were a QS1000 event, however go back a week and Phillip Island will hold a QS1000 event, both important for the surfers competing.
As a photographer I like the first two rounds of a women’s event where you see the top players rested while the up and coming surfers battle to compete against the elite.
It’s hard to deny the excitement of seeing the best surfers competing against each other in the QS6000 events but the QS1000 events showcase much of the development work done by Surfing Australia with our young surfers.
Nusa Lembongan is one of a series of three islands off the coast of mainland Bali, which is made up from Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Ceningan and Nusa Pendina.
Lembongan is truly a great place and is probably still one of the hidden gems in the area. It has natural beauty, is fairly small and you always feel safe.
The decision to go to Lembongan was made due to hearing about the island through a friend at work.
The easiest way to begin the trip to Nusa Lembongan is to land in Bali, then make your way to Sanur. The reason for this is that most of the boats that travel to Lembongan depart from there. We stayed at the Inna Grand in Sanur, which was a short walk to the office of our boat, Sri Rejeki Fast Boat. This was a good choice as they do hotel pick up in Bali then Hotel drop off in Lambongan.
Getting on the boat is the start of the adventure, put your footwear (shoes, thongs or fliplops) into a crate and watch your bags get stacked onto the top deck of the boat. Getting on and off the boat means your going to get wet, at least to the bottom of your shorts. Entry is via the back of the boats and it’s done on the beach. It’s all pretty smooth and easy, just keep phones and ipods in your backpack.
The trip takes about 25 to 30 minutes depending on the seas and weather but it’s a good run. Getting off the boat is pretty much a reverse procedure, again it’s pretty easy. As previously mentioned your boat ride includes the transfer to your accommodation.
We stayed at the Mahagiri Resort in Lembongan, which is one of the newer hotels on the island. First thing you should do when you get there is hire a scooter. It’s again very easy to do as nearly every place hires scooters. For surfers I recommend getting one with a surfboard rack, it makes life easy. It also gives you the chance to have a look around for food places. Scooters or as we called ours, the mighty hog cost around 700,000 Rupiah a day or $7 AUD. You pay and take the scooter, no forms, no licence but some basic instruction….don’t crash as most Travel Insurance don’t cover Scooters. At first the roads seem chaotic but you quickly learn there is a system and a lack of agro, very pleasent indeed.
There are many food options on the island and I have to say they are all good and cater to everyone, even the gluten free, dairy free and vegans. You will quickly find your favourite. We found The Sampan, Bali Eco Deli (great coffee), Mickey’s Sports Bar, Nyomans Warung (great fish in banana leaf), The Deck Cafe & Bar, Tiki Cafe & Bar and the Thai Pantry which has a VW Kombi as a bar on the deck overlooking Lembongan Harbour.
As a surfer I was keen to hit the water. The water is clean, clear and warm. During September it is around 27 degrees each day. The best surfing is on the mid to high tide. I thought it might be ok on the low tide but this was a really bad idea. During this session the reef boots I purchased, paid for themselves six times over.
The main breaks are Playgrounds, Lacerations, Shipwrecks and Ceningan Lefts.
Playgrounds is a nice fun wave for beginners to immediate surfers, which breaks left and right. The left seemed to break better for me and it was fun when I hired a mini mal from the guys at Long Sambung Beach (Coconut Bay). They will also help you out with a lift to the breaks but it’s really not required for Playgrounds. A board will cost you around 500,000 to 700,000 rupiah a day. Again this is only $5 to $7 AUD for the day.
The next break is Lacerations and I’m glad it never lived up to it’s name. Again good for beginner to intermediate, this wave is a great little right hander and really fun. Between Lacerations and the next break, Shipwrecks is No Mans Land, take note and stay away.
The third break, Shipwrecks is definitely Intermediate to Advanced and although you can paddle out, grab a boat on the way out and paddle in. Shipwrecks really pumps! All the waves have plenty of power in the and the crowds are great during the time I was there anyway.
Crossing the Yellow Bridge takes you to the other surf break, Ceningan Lefts, a ripper of a left hander. The Yellow Bridge is the only way to get there and is only wide enough for two scooters or one scooter and a few pedestrians with luggage.
There is a small wave at Tamarind Beach on Lembongan and it looked alright for a beginner on a mal.
One of the big drawcards of Lembongan is the amazing sunsets. Grab a Happy Hour drink and sit back and enjoy.
You can do as much or as little as you want on Lembongan. Snorkeling, Scuba Diving, Paddle Boarding or every other watersport like parasailing, even banana boat rides.
Every eatery has Wi-Fi, you can keep in contact with the outside world and make your friends envious with your Instagram and Facebook posts while having a cool Bintang.
Speaking of Bintang, the local small shops and the Adi Mart do largies for 350,000 rupiah ($3.50 AUD). Wine is quite expensive as are spirits however if you are going to have a mojito then this is the place to do it, especially at sunset.
Nusa lembongan is an amazing paradise, it’s Bali but not Bali if that makes sense. We had a 10 day stay on Lembongan and many people we met along the way, wished they stayed longer. It’s relaxing and great for everyone from backpackers to 5 Star, singles to families. Just try to stay away from the last two weeks of September, nothing bad will happen then, I just want it all to myself.