Finals day delivered at the Vissla Great Lakes Pro pres by D'Blanc QS1,000 event. The surf cleaned up and picked up with Boomerang Beach producing clean, three-foot waves for an action-packed day that saw two worthy winners crowned. Jackson Baker and Holly Wawn took control of Finals day to claim impressive wins and go into the up and coming QS 6,000 events in red-hot form.
Fresh off a win at the recent Mothernest Tweed Coast Pro, Novacastrian Jackson Baker was coming into the Boomerang event carrying momentum and this showed in the Final. Baker posted a 9-point (out of a possible 10) ride off the bat putting his opponent, Jared Hickel from Cronulla, on the ropes early. Baker then backed it up for a heat total of 13.70. Hickel waited patiently for a set wave but it never arrived gifting Baker his third QS victory and second win in a week.
"I don't think you can feel much better than this," Baker said. "I was so stoked to win on the Tweed Coast and have success this early in the year but to go back-to-back is such a dream run, it's definitely the best start to a season I've ever had so I can't complain.
"This is just the start for me, I'm really keen to have a solid year on the QS and crack the top 50 or maybe even better we'll have to wait and see. I've been training hard and eating well so it's nice to see that pay off. I'm really pumped for the first QS 6,000 in Newcastle, it's my home event which makes it stressful for me so I want to go into it, not over-thinking and these results will definitely help my confidence."
Although Hickel came just short in the Final, it was still part of his plan to surf as many heats as possible. The Cronulla local will head to Newcastle Surfest with the momentum he needs to solidify a spot in the top 100 of the QS rankings.
"I'm really happy to start the year with a second-place finish," Hickel said. "It is always pumping here at this event so it's nice to have great waves in a contest. I wanted to get some solid heat practice at this event leading into the QS 6,000s so I've achieved my goal for sure."
The women's final was a one-sided affair with eventual winner Holly Wawn putting on the strongest performance of the entire event against Californian prodigy Alyssa Spencer. Wawn found a beautiful left-hander early in the heat and posted a 9.50 for two massive backhand hacks. She then backed it up with a near perfect 9.90 for an astonishing heat total of 19.40, the highest of the entire event. It was the second time Wawn has won the Vissla Great Lakes Pro and sets her up for a massive assault on the 2018 Qualifying Series.
"This is my favourite place on the whole East Coast," Wawn said. "I have spent a lot of time here, coming up for weekends and surfing. It's a great part of the world. I paddled out for the Final and it seemed to calm down, then I just caught some waves and was all the sudden in the lead. I was thinking ‘Okay, don't get an interference and mess this up.' It's a great confidence booster heading to Manly and Newcastle QS 6,000s. I had a bad result at the first one of the year but now I'm feeling confident for the next two."
Although Spencer was left needing a two-wave combination to take the win in the Final, the 14-year-old didn't give up, finding a 9-point ride of her own to finish the final with a solid heat total of 15.90. She leaves Boomerang with one of the best results of her young career.
"I absolutely love this place," Spencer said. "The waves have been so great and it's so beautiful here. I have loved my time here. That was a really exciting Final. I think Holly got a 9 and a 7 in the first five minutes, and I just tried to stay calm and think that I had gotten 9s and 7s so I could catch her. She then got another 9 towards the end, which I matched, but it was too late."