Nichols starts 2017 campaign in style at Burleigh
SURFING: The Sunshine Coast's next big thing on the waves, Isabella Nichols, started her 2017 campaign in promising fashion on Friday.
The Coolum Beach prospect, who won the world junior title last year, stormed through her opening heat at the Burleigh Pro.
She posted the highest heat total of the event so far, with a score of 17.50 points amid small surf of round two.
"I was a bit concerned about the conditions before that heat,” she told World Surf League.
"Once we paddled out there was a flurry of waves so it was all good, and everyone has to deal with the same conditions.”
Nichols experienced a solid 2016 campaign on the world Qualifying Series, just missing out on a berth on this year's World Championship Tour.
She's primed to make a bigger impact this season.
"The end of last year was a bit frustrating but it has really motivated me for this year,” she said.
"I have been training and surfing a lot and am excited to compete in 2017.”
Fellow Coaster and ex-world tour contender Dimity Stoyle just progressed to the next round, with a score of 12.25 points.
She won the 1000-point QS event in 2015 and is eager to return to that sort of form this year.
"I haven't had a heat for so long so felt pretty shaky in that heat,” she said.
"I feel like I was lucky to make that heat, my wave selection was poor and it was a tough heat.
"It is great to be competing at Burleigh again. The waves aren't amazing at the moment but whenever you enter the event there is always the chance of getting classic Burleigh with no one out.
"If that were to happen it would be the best contest in the world.”
Stoyle and Nichols are drawn in the same round three heat. Coaster Sophie McCulloch eased into round three by winning her round two heat.
In the men's edition, Reef Heazlewood and Noah Stocca are set to compete in finishing first and second respectively in the same four-man round two heat.