Before the women hit the water for the Final, the Port Stephens Toyota NSW Pro pres. By Newcastle Airport men's QS 1,000 Final took place. It was a battle of the form surfers as Margaret River's Jacob Willcox came up against Burleigh Heads youngster Liam O'Brien.
It was a heated battle as the two went blow-for-blow, both posting solid scores. O'Brien surfed fast and loose, mixing power with progression to post a near excellent heat total of 15.60. Willcox fought back, going left and right and surfing with aggression, but was unable to find the score he needed to win. O'Brien held the lead and went on to take the biggest win of his career.
"I'm so happy - I can barely speak right now," O'Brien said. "I didn't really expect much from myself at this event. I just came to have fun and surf heats so to find myself in the Final was amazing. Everyone in the competition was surfing so well but I just seemed to get a lot of the good waves. I'm really stoked with this win, it's definitely the highlight of my career so far."
Fresh off a win at the Phillip Island Pro QS 1,000 earlier this week, Willcox came into this event as the man to beat. With the hope of going back-to-back, he finished just short which was disappointing for the young West Aussie. However, his performance in the last two events has increased his rank enough to put him into the QS 10,000 events in Hawaii later this month. He will head to Hawaii leading the WSL Australia / Oceania QS rankings, 23 spots higher than he was this time last week.
"I'm really disappointed to fall short today," Willcox said. "I'm sure once I have a while to think about it I'll feel better about these two events. Liam (O'Brien) is a really deserving winner. He surfed great all week, so I'm happy for him. I wasn't thinking about my ranking coming into these events so to find out I can enter Hawaii is great. This has given me some confidence so I guess I will go home and prepare for Hawaii and hopefully get some amazing waves over there."