Byron Bay’s Soli Bailey is in Sydney preparing for his first ever World Surf League event appearance as a qualified CT surfer.
Bailey is competing alongside a host of other pros at Manly Beach in the QS 6000 event, the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro.
“I’m just using this as tuning up. Obviously a great result here will help me with a QS campaign throughout the year,” Bailey said.
“But it’s a good opportunity to work on choosing the right waves and making the right decisions. I’m really confident in my boards. My decision-making last year under pressure was all really good.”
Fellow CT surfers Ethan Ewing, Connor O’Leary, Jesse Mendes, Miguel Pupo and the GOAT Kelly Slater are also at the event.
Several female top flight surfers are competing as well, including Felicity Palmateer and Ellie Brooks. Alana Blanchard is making her return to competition at the event, after two years off.
Bailey went to Japan in the offseason to snowboard, after officially qualifying for the Championship Tour at the end of 2018.
He has spent the last month preparing for the season, which starts at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast in two weeks.
“I’ve sort of been taking it easy. Trying some new boards. We got some good barrels [on the Gold Coast] in the cyclone swell,” he said.
“It doesn’t feel any different. I suppose when I paddle out there [at Snapper] it’ll be a big stage and it’ll sink in. I’ll just have to surf smart, get some good waves.”
Bailey is only the second Indigenous surfer to make the Championship Tour.
By Keiran Deck