- WSL / Liam Robertson

Former event champion Jacob Willcox and Sunshine Coast surfer Sophie McCulloch have been crowned champions at the Phillip Island Pro presented by Bass Coast Shire in playful clean surf at Cape Woolamai.

The event's inaugural champion in 2017, Willcox returned to Phillip Island and looked unstoppable throughout the early rounds in the raw southern ocean waves.

On finals day he continued that form despite a rapidly decreasing swell locking in a 6.75 and a 4.75 in the final against Joel Vaughan to finish with a heat total of 11.50 points (out of a possible 20).

Vaughan was building throughout the event and in the semi finals put on an incredible display of aerial surfing. However, he was unable to find the waves in the final finishing behind Willcox on a heat total of 11.00 points.

"Phillip Island reminds me a lot of home with the raw coastline energy and all the wind here" said event champion Willcox. "I feel very comfortable here and it's a good way to get the year started. This was the perfect way to begin the year and get ready for some of the larger events in a few months and hopefully qualify for the Championship Tour by the end of year. I've been working with a Victorian coach "Moose" who works with a lot of tennis and golfers and it's been great to hang out with him and enjoy the week."

Jacob Willcox Jacob Willcox getting his year off to the perdfect start at Cape Woolamai. - WSL / Liam Robertson

On the Women's side of the draw Sophie McCulloch looked determined to ensure she walked away with her maiden Qualifying Series win.

McCuloch cruised through her Semi Final heat, locking in the highest scoring wave of the day an 8.50 for a series of clinical backhand carves and snaps. The final saw the two in form surfers of the event McCulloch and Merimbula surfer Freya Prumm.

In a wave starved heat it was McCulloch that came out on top locking in a heat total of 11.25 to Prumm's 6.05 heat total.

"I'm feeling really good, and stoked to come away with my first QS win" said McCulloch. "I had a bit of a different approach to this event. Saw some family, cruised around and just enjoyed the beautiful Victorian coastline. We have had a lot of different types of waves over the last few days but it has been really fun adapting to the conditions each day. I will take a lot of confidence out of this event, mainly in my own ability and preparation. I'm looking forward to the next few events."

Sophie McCulloch Sophie McCulloch chaired to victory for the first time ever. - WSL / Liam Robertson
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