- WSL / Lucy Callister

The 2022 Gold Coast Open World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 1000 event concluded today at Burleigh Heads, crowning Sophie McCulloch and Chris Zaffis as event champions in near-perfect swell at the iconic Burleigh Point. It was an outstanding end to the three-day event with one of the world's most iconic waves turning on pumping surf for Finals Day.

Sophie McCulloch Sophie McCulloch was on fire all event at the Gold Coast Open. - WSL / Lucy Callister

The women's final was a tight battle between event top seed Sophie McCulloch (Alex Headland) and Victorian rising star Ellie Harrison (Torquay). Both surfers went head to head in the 30 minute final however McCulloch's combined two wave score of 13.50 (out of a possible 20.00) proved too strong. McCulloch said she was over the moon to end up victorious today at Burleigh in a tight battle against Harrison.

"I really found my rhythm in this event," said McCulloch. "I've been working hard to perform under pressure and I feel I did that today. I had a slow start in the final and Ellie was surfing really well, so I'm glad I could come from behind and claim the win today."

Sophie McCulloch Sophie McCulloch with another winner's chair in 2022. - WSL / Lucy Callister

It was an electric final between two of the men's event standout performers, Chris Zaffis (Broadbeach/Angourie) and Dylan Moffat (North Narrabeen). Zaffis took an early lead and held it down for the remainder of the final winning with a total score of 13.40 over Moffats 11.25.
Zaffis said he's stoked to take the win today especially at his new home point break.

"I've been trying to win a comp for ages so it feels amazing to end up on top today in front of my friends, my wife and in," said Zaffis. "I entered this event with a plan to surf a certain way and I was lucky that plan came together today. Although I had a plan you can never count on it, especially up against such talented athletes. This win has certainly been a huge confidence boost moving into the rest of the season and kickstarting my 2022/2023 qualifying campaign."

Chris Zaffis Chris Zaffis with his first QS win since 2016. - WSL / Lucy Callister

Surfing Queensland CEO Adam Yates said the three-day event has been one of the best to date with spectacular waves and beautiful weather, bringing large crowds to Burleigh Heads to watch the return of professional surfing to Queensland.

"It's been an amazing event with world-class waves on offer for both homegrown and international surfing talent," said Yates. "The Gold Coast Open has been running at Burleigh since 2009 and I think this year's event may have been one of the best to date. It's been a great weekend for the Gold Coast region with so much to offer both spectators and competitors."

Ellie Harrison Ellie Harrison finding shade on Finals Day. - WSL / Lucy Callister

In conjunction with the Gold Coast Open, the Flotsam Festival provided two jam-packed nights of entertainment on Burleigh Hill. The free event included live music and cinema which showcased surf photography and culture of the southern Gold Coast. Flotsam Festival Director Carolyn Ridings said staging these events in conjunction with the Gold Coast Open was a natural fit, and such a win for all involved.

"For the artists, it meant their work was put on display back in the coastal environment that inspired it. For audiences, it offered the opportunity to discover local talent and enjoy family-friendly content at Burleigh's picture-perfect natural amphitheater," said Ridings. "We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with the Gold Coast Open and compliment the daytime contest action by throwing the spotlight onto the creative side of surfing each night."

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