The Nissan Super Girl Pro has not only delivered a message of empowerment for women's surfing, but also provided a stage for some of the world's best to come and perform in front of their beloved fans. You never know who one of those young girls running up to their idols may grow into and Samantha Sibley is the perfect example of what inspirations can lead to after claiming her first-ever win in Oceanside and 6,000 vital points.
The 17-year-old made a bit of surfing history as the youngest competitor to win the Super GIrl Pro QS 6,000 after facing some of the world's best along the way, besting good friend and mentor Tatiana Weston-Webb in the Final. One of San Clemente, California's, emerging talents has awaited a breakthrough at this level and made her dream a reality.
"This is by far the best day of my life and I cannot believe I just won the Super Girl," Sibley said. "I've been working so hard leading up to this event and to see it pay off, I can't believe it. This is the most prestigious event in my opinion and to win it is out of this world. It meant the world to me to be out there with Tatiana. She's so strong and if I could've picked any heat with any surfer, it'd be her. I've looked up to her for years and now we're really good friends so to be in a Final with her was just the cherry on top."
Weston-Webb wasn't the only Championship Tour (CT) elite Sibley had to get past today after her stunning win over fellow 17-year-old and 2018 Rookie of the Year Caroline Marks in the Semifinals. Sibley's versatile approach with her vertical backhand and powerful forehand attack helped her garner some of the day's highest scores along the way -- including the event's highest heat total of a 15.76 (out of a possible 20) in Round 5 and an 8.00 (out of a possible 10) in the Final.
This win moves Sibley from No. 62 to No. 6 on the QS rankings and now into a qualification spot after defeating fellow Pro Junior stand out, and reigning WSL Junior Champion, Kirra Pinkerton in a Quarterfinal battle after dealing with previous No. 6 Sara Wakita along the way.
"I've been coming to this event ever since I was little, standing on this beach, taking pictures with all my heroes and now to be the Super Girl, I'm at a loss for words," Sibley said. "I'm so stoked to move so far up the rankings. At the beginning of the year I didn't feel like it was my time to qualify but now it's right there in my grasp. I couldn't have done it without everyone close to me supporting me and can't thank them enough for everything they've done for me."
Weston-Webb Notches A Second Super Girl Runner-Up
A bitter-sweet finish gives Weston-Webb 4,500 points and a second runner-up at this event, adding to her 2015 victory, with immaculate surfing throughout the weekend. The CT veteran has attended Oceanside every year since this event's inception as a QS and has rarely found herself not competing on finals day. The 23-year-old fought her way through the likes of Teresa Bonvalot, Leilani McGonagle, and fellow CT competitor Bronte Macaulay with impressive numbers of her own that included a 15.10 heat total in the Semifinals.
"Sam and I were staying together the entire event and spoke it into existence," Weston-Webb said. "I talked about how fun it would be to share a Final against Sam at the beginning of the event and to have it come true was really cool. I'm super proud of her and it's so awesome to see. I would've loved to have won but bring on the US Open. My surfing felt great this whole event and I just couldn't seem to get a wave in the Final (laughs). But, there's a lot to look back on at this event and take it moving forward."
Quotable and Notable Finishes
A pair of CT elite finished with Semifinal appearances as Marks fell to eventual winner Sibley and Macaulay fell victim to Weston-Webb's vicious backhand performance. But Marks leaves Super Girl Pro still atop the North America rankings where she eyes a three-peat to add to an already spectacular resume.
"I feel like I have a lot of momentum right now after a third-place in J-Bay and again here," Marks said. "Unfortunately that last heat was super slow and not a lot of opportunity but that's how it goes sometimes. I'm just stoked to be home, I love California in the summer with all my friends and family here -- I just have such an amazing support crew. Sleeping in my own bed is the best and to rest at home, and now I'm really looking forward to the US Open."
Macaulay's result notes her best of 2019 on the QS, and CT, with plenty of steam moving into the Vans US Open QS 10,000 where another major result there will help gain even more ground her for a spot on the 2020 CT.
"I'm actually really stoked with a third or better being my goal here since I've got a ninth and a fifth so that was nice to get it going," Macaualay said. "It's a keeper result and just to surf a lot of heats is always really nice. It's my best result here which is good and feel like I'm surfing well so I'll take everything from this week moving forward to the first-ever 10,000 which is really exciting."
Adaptive Surfing Shines Bright in Oceanside
One of the day's highlights witnessed the Adaptive Surfing Heat take to the water and spark inspiration to everyone on the beach. More young sensations stood atop the podium during today's Awards Ceremony as 16-year old Olivia Stone and 11-year old Faith Lennox finished first and second, respectively, in the first ever Super Girl Surf Pro Adaptive Heat. Retired USMC Captain Sarah Bettencourt earned third place.
With famed pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton and Charles Webb, who runs the US Open Adaptive Surfing Championship, providing commentary - six inspirational female surfers paddled out for a 20-minute contest this afternoon. Olivia Stone, a congenital bilateral above the elbow amputee, took the top honors with an amazing performance as she rode one of her scoring waves from the outside nearly to the shoreline.
"It was incredible to hear my name called first and to step on the tallest step of the podium and be announced as the winner was a moment that I will always remember," said an elated Stone, a congenital bilateral above the elbow amputee. "If you have a passion and you want to pursue it, just don't look back and keep charging. I just want to show everyone that women are strong and we are super."
"I think surfing is one of the hardest sports to go after and to have all these amazing adaptive athletes go for it just inspires other people to go out and do it," Hamilton said. "The ocean is such a place of healing and healthy environment. All of us can struggle with different things in life that can make it awful or downhill really fast, so it's such a healthy place to be in with adaptive differences or not. It's a place to celebrate your time and grow, and be challenged."
Next on the women's Qualifying Series schedule will be the Vans US Open of Surfing QS 10,000 presented by Swatch beginning July 29 - August 4.