Queensland's Taj Stokes and Victoria's Ellie Harrison captured their maiden World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) victories, with dominant performances in pumping conditions yesterday at the Cape Naturaliste Pro presented by Creatures of Leisure, the final stop of the 2022 West Australian Pro Surf Series.
In arguably the best waves seen at a QS 1000 event in Australia in recent memory, Yallingup Main Break provided groomed four-to-six feet surf all day long, with sunny skies and a festival style atmosphere on offer.
Ellie Harrison (Barwon Heads, VIC), confirmed her status as a star on the rise, dropping the events only perfect 10 point ride on her way to victory. Harrison defeated Amelie Bourke (Newcastle, NSW) in the Women's final, backing up her win at the Peel Pro Junior in Mandurah earlier in the week.
In a closely contested final, Harrison had to draw deep from her energy reserves on her way to a two-wave combined total of 12.15 (from a possible 20). Despite posting the highest individual score of the final with a 7.75 (from a possible 10), Bourke couldn't find a strong enough back up score to overcome Harrison in the dying minutes of their matchup.
"I feel really good, that last heat was very tough, but I'm happy to get the win," said Harrison. "It's been such a good trip to Western Australia, to win the Pro Junior in Mandurah, qualify for the World Juniors, and now win my first QS, it'll be an experience that sticks with me for a very long time."
Taj Stokes (Sunshine Coast, QLD) is another surfer with a bright future, and his maiden QS win in Yallingup will surely be the first of many. Stokes reached the semi finals at the Peel Pro Junior and capped off his trip to WA with victory over Max Marsden (Geraldton, WA) in the Men's final.
The two form surfers of the event duelled it out in the 30-minute final, with the pair exchanging waves and scores at will. Stokes' smooth style and flawless technique saw him post an excellent 8.75 and back it up with a 7.00, to finish on a two-wave combined total of 15.75 (from a possible 20), leaving Marsden chasing an excellent score when the siren sounded.
"It's been a surreal day, we woke up this morning to six foot offshore conditions and we knew we were going to be in for good day and to top it off with a win is awesome," said Stokes. "It's been a really good trip over to the West and this win is the cherry on the top for me and I look forward to many more."
The Cape Naturaliste Pro presented by Creatures of Leisure saw many West Australian surfers shine on home soil with Max Marsden a standout amongst the local competitors, along with Luke Campbell (Scarborough, WA), who reached the Semifinals. While, Otis North (Yallingup, WA), Duke Nagtzaam (Yallingup, WA) and Cyrus Cox (Margaret River, WA) all featured in the quarter finals.
On the Women's side of the draw Felicity Palmateer (Yanchep, WA), and Emma Cattlin (Yallingup, WA) were the best placed West Australian's reaching the semi finals, with Olive Hardy (Margaret River, WA), Mia McCarthy (Cowaramup, WA) and Coral Durant (Red Bluff, WA) all making the the Quarterfinals.
The Cape Naturaliste Pro presented by Creatures of Leisure capped off an exciting week of professional surfing in Western Australia, with back-to-back events in Mandurah and Yallingup creating a coastal road trip through the South West of WA for travelling surfers and West Australian's alike.
"The WA Pro Surf Series has made a welcome return after two year hiatus," said Surfing WA Event Manager Justin Majeks. "We scored really good waves in both Mandurah and Yallingup and I congratulate Ellie Harrison and Taj Stokes for their wins here in Yallingup. We look forward to bring these events back to the shores of WA for many years to come."