Western Australia's future face of surfing Jack Robinson won the World Surf League (WSL) Sunset Open, one of the highest quality and hotly contested Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000-rated events in the world.
Although this is Robinson's maiden QS win, the Australian already had plenty of competitive success on the North Shore, earning podium spots at Sunset Beach in 2016 and 2015 during the HIC Pro and a win at the 2014 Pro Junior. Jack was granted a sponsor wildcard into the Sunset Open as a standout at this venue for two straight winters now. Today's victory rounds out his reputation, which also includes a remarkable win at the Pipe Invitational in 2015.
Robinson referred to the Final as a good sparring session, as it came down to an international match up between Finn McGill (HAW), Bino Lopes (BRA) and Miguel Tudela (PER). A great representation of the far reaching talents of surfers around the globe, the culmination of the Sunset Open was nothing short of energetic and entertaining. With the majority of the 112-man field from Hawaii, the addition of international athletes offered a true test of skill at this level of professional competition.
"It was a big talent pool," said Robinson after the win. "I was definitely stoked to get the jump on them all." Jack joined the 112-man field as an event wildcard, along with Maui's Ian Walsh who took a respectable 5th place and Waianae's Sunny Garcia who bowed out in Round Three.
"There's so many talented surfers and it's a gnarly contest so it's definitely up there, it's cool," continued Robinson on how the victory felt.
Second place winner McGill was on a roll after placing runner up in last week's Sunset Pro Junior, and expressed his confidence and ease at surfing his home break.
"I knew that me and Jack actually kind of had an advantage, because he comes out every winter all winter," said McGill. "Jack's really good out here and we know the reef really well, so I kind of knew we had an advantage to finding the waves and knowing what they were going to do. But Bino and Miguel are so good, you can't underestimate anyone in these contests at all."
In the 30-minute Final, Robinson commanded the heat from the onset with smooth carves, speed and a casual confidence that is quickly becoming his trademark. In the first half of the heat, Robinson and Lopes traded solid waves, both drawing out committed lines on the huge faces.
As sets feathered on the horizon, McGill positioned himself and caught the best wave thus far with powerful turns and a patented Sunset closeout carve, which judges awarded a 7.10. But Bino answered back with a 6.25 for a nice turn off the top and a second turn right under the lip, which put him in second after backing up his 5.40. Robinson continued to solidify his lead with a searing turn and a small barrel, the beach crowd applauding the 7.6, which ended up being the highest single wave score of the Final.
But McGill was not to be outdone and dropped into a bomb as the swell peaked at Sunset. He scored a 7.15 for big open carves to change the situation, and knocked Robinson out of the lead. But the Australian had priority, and was in perfect position to stroke into the last wave of the day with only a minute left on the clock. Robinson hammered out two beautiful turns then landed the closeout for the win, a 6.75 and combined two wave total of 14.35, just 0.10 points ahead of McGill.