Ella Williams has claimed her maiden World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) victory, taking out the Women's division at the 2019 Mothernest Great Lakes Pro in heavy four-to-six foot surf at Tuncurry.
Williams ability to consistently post decent scores on longer running lefts proved to be an advantage as she moved past Cannelle Bulard (FRA) in the semi finals and Zahli Kelly (Cabarita, NSW) in the final. The Kiwi goofy-foot performed a mix of powerful forehand snaps in the final against Kelly, posting a decent 13.50 two-wave heat total to claim her first QS victory by less than a two-point margin.
"This is a fantastic feeling and so exciting," said Williams. "The waves were pumping out there and I couldn't be happier to get this win. The lefts came into my favour as I could use my forehand predominately. Where I'm from in Whangamata is a lefthand sandbar, so I was quite comfortable out there."
Despite moments of brilliance in the final, Kelly was unable to find the necessary seven-point ride required to top Williams. Nevertheless, Kelly walks away from the Mothernest Great Lakes Pro, with her head held high and confident going into the upcoming Vissla Central Coast Pro and Vissla Sydney Surf Pro QS events.
"That feels like a good start to the year and definitely got the momentum going heading into the next events," said Kelly. "I wanted to go out there and get the bigger waves that had corners on them so they didn't close out, I just don't think I got the opportunity to get the waves I wanted and when I did, I wasn't holding priority."
Despite being overcome by a mystery illness, Cooper Chapman (Narrabeen, NSW) made his return to QS competition today. Chapman proceeded to claim victories across round four and five and kept the momentum going in his bid to qualify for the WSL Championship Tour.
"To tell you the truth, I nearly pulled out of the event this morning after I didn't sleep a wink last night because I have this crazy bug," said Chapman. "I crawled out of bed this morning and was lucky to squeeze through the heat and then I just tried to take a bunch of painkillers and sleep before my second heat and thankfully I began to feel better."
Former Championship Tour surfer Matt Banting (Port Macquarie, NSW) stamped his authority on his round five heat with a series of backhand gauges to claim a near-perfect 9.6 scoring wave. As a result, Banting (Port Macquarie, NSW) claimed the AirAsia Wave Of The Day for his impeccable performance.
"I had been watching those lefts running into the corner that looked like they had a bit of length and also allowed you to get back out the back easier," said Banting. "I knew that the conditions would get better with the incoming tide, so I opted to not drift too far up the beach and focus on my backhand."