Australian Surf Masters
Bells Beach, Victoria was blessed with a solid and straight two meter swell for the final day of the Australian Surf Masters on Sunday 10th September.
The Open Men's final hit the water at 7:30am with a quality line-up including former World Championship Touring surfer Glyndyn Ringrose from Phillip Island, along with highly rated Queensland surfer Dave Reardon-Smith and NSW's Michael O'Rafferty, but it was local legend Jirah Laws who set the scene for a day of great performances.
Law's took the lead early in the final with an excellent 8 point ride and backed it up with an outstanding 9.25 to take a very convincing win with Ringrose second, Reardon-Smith third and O'Rafferty fourth.
"Such a great feeling to finally win a big event," said an excited Laws after his win. "I've had many close results in national events and semi final finishes but until now, haven't been able to win. I figured Bells Beach would be my best and maybe last chance and I put everything in to this and it's paid off - it feels great!"
The Open Women's final looked set to follow the same pattern when local surfer Amy Stewart opened with an excellent 8 point ride. Stewart lead for most of the final but talented 18-year-old NSW surfer Jessica Hickson patiently selected her waves which paid off when she took one of the larger sets of the morning, executed some impressive and powerful bottom turns and scored an outstanding nine point ride.
Hickson later backed that ride up with a strong and required 6.5 second scoring ride to take a narrow win over Stewart, with Byron Bay's Jenny Boggis coming in 3rd ahead of Phillip Island Victorian Ainslie Burt.
Today's national title wins were shared across the eastern mainland states with Queensland taking two individual wins - John Truman winning the Over-45 Men's and Gold Coast's Mandy Roberts winning the Over-28 Women's. NSW took four wins with Robby Page winning the Over-35 Men's, Matt Gallagher taking the Open Kneeboards and Central Coast's Sandra English winning the Over-35 Women's.
Local Bell's surfers took the other four titles, highlighting their local understanding of the wave on a day that delivered solid waves for all finals.
The final event of the day was the Surfing Australia Teams Cup and in a close, exciting and super high quality display, NSW took a narrow win ahead of Victoria in second, Queensland third and Western Australia fourth with all teams well in contention to the end.
World Championship Touring Surfer Robby Page, a former Pipeline Masters Champion who returned to this event after 22 years and took the over-35 men's final said: "It's been an amazing week for all of us, great surfing through all the divisions and it's events like these that reaffirm that Australia is the greatest surfing nation in the world!"