Keely gifted another chance on world tour
ALEXANDRA Headland's Keely Andrew will continue her quest to earn a spot on next year's world tour when she paddles out at the Fiji Women's Pro today.
Andrew will again take the place of injured six-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore, who has withdrawn from the event due to an ongoing foot injury.
Gilmore's absence opens the door for Andrew to gain valuable points and experience as she tests herself against the world's best.
Andrew replaced Gilmore earlier this month at the Oi Rio Pro in Brazil, where she progressed to the quarter-finals - an amazing effort in just her second World Surf League Championship Tour event.
WSL deputy commissioner Jessi Miley-Dyer confirmed the defending world champion would not be competing at the Cloudbreak event.
"Steph Gilmore has withdrawn from the Fiji Women's Pro," Miley-Dyer said.
"Keely Andrew has accepted the position as injury replacement."
The 19-year-old will face America's Courtney Conlogue - the winner in Rio - and France's Johanne Defay in her round one heat.
It is a tough opener, but Gilmore previously told the Daily she was backing Keely to star.
"She is surfing very well and I rate her really highly," Gilmore told the Daily last week.
"I hadn't seen too much of her and then I saw her in Brazil and was really impressed."
Andrew is fourth in the Qualifying Series' rankings.
The top six on the year-ending QS rankings - not including surfers qualifying in the top 10 on the Championship Tour rankings - will secure a spot on next year's elite tour.
Buderim's Dimity Stoyle is also competing and will be desperate to improve on her recent form.
She has failed to progress past the second round of any CT event this year.
Stoyle's coach and Surfing High Performance Centre chief mentor, Andy King, told the Daily he expected the gnarly Fiji reef break to suit Stoyle's style.
He said Stoyle had been struggling to take her scintillating free-surfing form into the competitive environment.
Stoyle sits 13th in the race for the world title.
Coolum's Julian Wilson will surf in the men's event next week. He is eighth in the CT rankings.