Fireworks were on display on the last day of the Burton Automotive Pro and the Grandstand Sports Clinic Women's Pro as Mikey Wright and Coco Ho surfed to impressive wins at the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 6,000-level events.
The small, grim conditions were outshone by incredible displays of surfing. Along with winning the event, Mikey made history with his sister, Tyler Wright, the reigning women's WSL Championship Tour (CT) Champ, as the first siblings to surf in dual Finals of a QS event.
On the men's side, in the Burton Automotive Pro Final, Mikey posted dual 9.00-point-range rides to combo Barron Mamiya with a total of 18.20 and take the win. Blasting a weak left-hander for five huge backhand hooks, Wright showed his incredible power to post a 9.00 early in the battle; putting him in a near-unbeatable position in the last heat of the day. Overall this week, the Wright family has been on fire; Mikey and Tyler won the Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle Final at Newcastle Beach last weekend as part of the Culburra team.
"The Burton Automotive Pro is the way we start the year so to walk away with a win is huge for me," Mikey Wright said. "Last year was my first full year doing the QS and this year I feel more ready because I learned so much and I'm so much more determined. It was so good to have a Final on at the same event as my sister Tyler. We've been hanging out, and having so much fun together. I will never forget this event."
Mikey Wright now leads the men's QS rankings and has started the year perfectly as he looks to qualify for the 2019 Championship Tour (CT) and join siblings Owen and Tyler on the elite Tour.
As for the event runner-up, Mamiya, a 17-year-old from Hawaii, pushed Wright all the way, posting excellent scores with an incredible display of aerial surfing in the cross-shore conditions. In his first big QS event of the year, a second-place finish exceeded the young naturalfooter's expectations.
"If you told me a week ago I was going to be in the Final by the weekend I would have told you that you were crazy," Mamiya said. "This is my first time competing at a big QS outside of Hawaii so I thought I'd try and make a heat or two so I'm so stoked to have made the Final.
"I've loved my time in Newcastle, the waves have been different everyday which keeps it interesting. I'm looking forward to heading to Manly and will try to build some momentum."
Coco Ho, meanwhile, who won Surfest in 2011, won the Grandstand Sports Clinic Women's Pro after a nail-biting final over Tyler Wright. Overcoming 2017 contest winner Johanne Defay in the Quarterfinals, and 2009 champion and local favorite, Philippa Anderson in the Semifinals, Ho's form was undeniable heading into the Final. Ho's best finish on the CT was World No. 6 in 2011 -- the same year she won in Newcastle. The Oahu native will be hoping to use momentum from this early QS 6,000 victory for a serious CT push in 2018.
"It was definitely anybody's day, in very trying conditions, but I was super energized and stoked and I think that always helps you win," Ho said, wearing an infectious smile post-win. "I think the point of difference in these conditions is keeping really busy. I won here in very different conditions to today, but I am so stoked to think I can come back seven years later and still win. It means a lot to me and proves that I am still capable of victories."
Electing to surf a bank 50 meters north of Ho, Wright's heat never really got started, riding six waves before locking in anything over a 5.00-point ride. However, Ho, the eventual winner, left the door open for (Tyler) Wright, failing to capitalize on early scoring rides, with both women keeping busy; riding a total of 29 waves between them.
"I'm really happy with how this event has gone," Wright said. "It was good to get into the contest mode and get some heat practice before the CT kicks off and making the Final is definitely good for the confidence. I'm most happy about seeing Mikey in the Final, regardless of if he wins or loses I know how hard he has worked and how much he wants to make the CT. Him winning this event shows how important hard work and commitment is."
Catch Ho and Wright kick off their CT season at the Roxy Pro Gold Coast live on the WSL starting March 11.