Brisa Hennessy earned the biggest win of her WSL Qualifying Series (QS) career by beating Dominic Barona in the final of the Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing pres by Hurley at Port Elizabeth's Pollock Beach Sunday.
"It has been a really challenging year," Hennessey said after the Final. "The QS is hard and I am just over the moon to get a win here. I have not been in a Final in a while and it was just amazing to surf against Dominic. She is an incredible surfer and human being and I feel very honored," she said.
‘Pipe,' as the spot at Pollock Beach is affectionately known, delivered throughout the final day of competition providing beautifully crisp, clean, three-to-four foot (1 to 1.3-meter) conditions for finals day. While some of the more experienced competitors faltered, it was the 18-year-old regularfooter who owned the day.
The Hawaii local who, after the win, sits at No. 10 on the women's QS rankings, showcased her sharp forehand in the Final and was in control throughout. She caught six waves in total, posting two good-range (6.0 - 7.9) scores early on, to have Barona needing a combination of scores (meaning, two new scores to catch up), before dropping an excellent 8.17 (out of a possible 10) midway through the 30-minute encounter.
Barona's first wave came 12 minutes into the heat. On her backhand, she landed a top turn, followed by a bottom turn and a strong vertical snap that saw her go vertical and earn 5.83 points that pulled her out of the combination situation, but left still requiring an excellent score (8.01) to take the lead.
This requirement was soon stretched to 9.51 when Hennessy dropped an 8.17 on her third wave. She later improved her situation with a 7.20 for a total of 15.37 (out of a possible 20) to leave Barona (who caught two waves only) a near-perfect 9.54 short when the buzzer went.
Hennessy was a deserved winner in what is the biggest women's event on the African continent, having been impressive since Round 1, where she posted the highest combined heat total of 18.83, courtesy of two scores in the excellent range (a 9.00 and a near-perfect 9.83). In fact, not only did she post three of the top five women's wave scores for the event but her 9.83 was the highest wave score of the entire contest.
Barona's runner-up result -- which catapulted her up to No. 17 on the QS ratings -- is another solid keeper for her. She has already won two women's QS 1,000 events in 2018 and, before the event here, was ranked No. 27. She will be especially pleased with her performance in the Semifinal, where she overcame Silvana Lima, who is ranked No. 9 on the elite-level WSL Championship Tour (CT) and had been a standout since Round 1.
Cape Town's Tarryn King pulled off a commanding victory in the women's longboarding Final, ending the heat on 13.00, nearly five points higher than runner-up Michelle Van Kempen from Nelson Mandela Bay.
The high tide conditions were difficult for the longboarders and King opted to sit away from the pack in the second half of the heat. This tactical move paid off as she replaced her lowest score with a 3.27 and extend her lead. A final 6.33 on the buzzer earned her a solid win over Van Kempen (Nelson Mandela Bay), rankings leader Crystal Hulett (St. Francis Bay) and American Shannon Hughes.
"It was a good final; surprisingly it was really slow out there," said King. "There was one set that came through while we were out there and I managed to get on one wave and just hang on until the inside to get a good score. I then needed a back-up score which took me a while but I managed to get it."