Indonesia's Oney Anwar and Queensland's Isabella Nichols (AUS) have taken out the 2017 Flight Centre Burleigh Pro at the iconic Gold Coast point of Burleigh Heads. After small surf troubled competitors for Day 3, the final day offered the best conditions of the event with long two-to-three foot waves reeling down the point.
The men's Final had the large Sunday crowds on the edge of their seats as Anwar, who now resides on the Gold Coast, came up against event standout Kalani Ball. The two went wave for wave both posting excellent scores with their display of radical, fins free surfing.
Ball had control early, with a near perfect single wave score of 9.65 (out of a possible 10) but Anwar's aerial prowess earned the win with a heat total of 18.20 (out of a possible 20), the highest of the event. Today's victory makes it two from two for Anwar who took out the Taiwan Open of Surfing at the end 2016.
"I am so happy to win an event at my second home," Anwar said. "Until Taiwan last year, I had a run of really bad results and was struggling to find motivation. After Taiwan I was really fired up and now to open the season with a win is the best. My goal is to be the first Indonesian to qualify for the Championship Tour (CT) and this win is a great result to start my campaign off."
Ball surfed an amazing event and was unlucky to finish runner-up for the second event in a row after falling just short of a win at the Carve Pro last week. However, his duel Final appearances and high heat totals are all promising signs for the 19-year-old who now has his eyes set on the big QS events for the rest of the season.
"That was a really fun event," Ball said. "It was sick that the waves turned on at Burleigh and everyone got to show what they can do. Losing in another close Final is tough, but I'm glad I made the two Finals. It was hard to lose with an excellent score but the fact I got those scores is also a good thing. I'm looking forward to Surfest in Newcastle in a couple of weeks."
The Women's Final saw the 2015 World Junior Champion Isabella Nichols come up against the current World Junior Champion Macy Callaghan. With Callaghan having won all three events she's entered this year, and Nichols just missing out on CT qualification at the end of last season, there was bound to be fireworks in the Final.
The Final began as a tight battle until Nichols found a long, medium-sized right that hugged the bank perfectly, enabling her to unleash a series of forehand maneuvers to post a near perfect 9.80, putting Callaghan in a combination situation (needing to scores). Never one to give up, Callaghan, with only minutes left found another wave and posted a 9.00 to get back into contention. Then in the dying seconds a priority mistake from Nichols gave Callaghan an opportunity to take the lead. And although Macy's score was excellent, it fell short, allowing Nichols to take the win.
"That was such a fun Final against Macy," Nichols said. "We were both having a lot of fun out there. We both wanted to win but not being too competitive which was nice. I was under a lot of pressure at the end and gave her a wave and was kicking myself because I know how amazing Macy is and how easily she could get a score. I'm just stoked to have had a final with one of the best female surfers in the world at the moment."
Callaghan, who was looking for her fourth win in less than a month was in incredible form all event. This was especially the case in the Final where she showed great resolve with her back against the wall and never gave up.
"It was cool to surf against Isabella in a final," Callaghan said. "She was the World Champ the year before me and is an amazing surfer. The waves were really fun today which was good. I'm really happy with how I surfed all contest and can't wait for the next event."