Johanne Defay has taken out the Port Stephens Toyota NSW Pro QS 6,000. After four days of competition, Defay found herself up against Hawaiian competitor Tatiana Weston-Webb in the Final as Birubi Beach served up clean 2-to-3 foot waves.
Defay was still trailing with under five minutes left, but took off on a long right and threw down a huge layback snap and a powerful closeout re-entry. The judges awarded her with an excellent 9.07 which not only earned her the win, but the top spot on the 2017 Women's Qualifying Series as well.
"This feels great to get another win this year," Defay said. "My last few events on the CT haven't been great so I came here to surf some heats, get some scores, and build my confidence. I didn't have much pressure on me because I'm pretty safe on the CT so that definitely helped me relax during my heats and just have fun."
At the completion of the 2017 Qualifying Series, Defay has had three QS 6,000 final appearances, taking wins in two of them, here at Port Stephens and the first event of the year down the road at Surfest in Newcastle. It's safe to say her appreciation for the QS and this area is abundant.
"It is so important for the women to be able to finish off the year with a big QS like this," she said. "Even for the CT surfers it means a lot for us to be able to come to these events because the standard is so high. Without it, the opportunities would not exist for the women QS surfers. I had never won a QS and now I have won two in the same area which is really special."
Weston-Webb was a standout all event and looked destined to take the win when she opened up the Final strong. Although Defay over took her in the end, the powerful goofy-footer was over the moon to have come and surfed the beautiful beaches of Port Stephens.
"It's been an awesome week here," Weston-Webb said. "At the beginning of the year I didn't think I would be here chasing points on the QS, but here I am. It's a good feeling though to make the Final and know how well I surfed and know I have re-qualified, I can head to Maui for the final CT with confidence."
Having had a below-par year on the CT for her standards, Weston-Webb was relying on QS events to guarantee her spot on the 2018 CT. She, along with all of the competitors, was all too aware of the hard work that went into this event and was thankful for everyone's efforts.
"Everyone was so excited at the start of the year when we saw the final QS 6,000 on the schedule so when we heard it wasn't going to happen we were really disappointed. It is amazing that everyone got together and worked so hard and put in money to ensure the event would remain, we are all so appreciative."
After six years at the top tier of competitive surfing, Kiwi Paige Hareb had fallen off the Tour and spent the last three years fighting to get back on. After a great competitive season on the QS Hareb needed a strong result at Birubi to return to the CT. After being eliminated in 5th, her fate was in the hands of Weston-Webb who after beating Macy Callaghan in the Semifinal, gifted Hareb her return to the dream tour.
"I was so shattered after my loss I came home to watch," Hareb said. "That heat was so hard to watch and I just felt sick for the last few minutes, it just took forever. Once it was over and I knew I had qualified I just burst into tears. It has been an intense week and a long year so I'm glad it's over and I'm back. I have matured a lot over the last few years so I'm stoked to get back on and tackle it with a different approach and hopefully stay there."