Surfing history was created on the final day of the Drug Aware Pro Margaret River presented by O’Neill, as two new champions were crowned at Surfers Point.
Tom Whitaker (Bronte, NSW) and Paige Hareb (New Zealand) created their own individual pieces of history, both sealing their maiden professional tour victories in style.
Whitaker, a 10-year Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Tour veteran, defeated American Chris Ward (San Celmente, USA), in a one-sided affair – winning 15.67 (out of a possible 20), to Ward’s 6.17, to take home a US$15,000 winner’s cheque and 3,000 points on offer in the 6-Star World Qualifying Series (WQS) event.
The popular 28 year-old pro-surfer, often seen chairing his Aussie mates up the beach on the World Tour, was never in doubt in the Final, after opening with a 6.17 to lead from start to finish.
“I am so stoked,” he said.
Whitaker, 28, has been competing on the ASP World Tour for five years without a first place result.
“I’ve had a second on the ASP World Tour in Brazil and countless third places, but to finally win an event is so awesome. I feel like the monkey is finally off my back.
“I had a super relaxed week and the waves were really quality here,” he said.
“Margaret River has the best waves on the WQS circuit. To win here is all-time.”
In the Women’s competition, 17-year-old Paige Hareb defeated Rosanne Hedge (South Africa) in a truly international Final.
Hareb, who was extremely impressive throughout the entire competition, dazzled the crowd with an exciting brand of progressive surfing – becoming the first New Zealander in history to win a major event on the ASP Tour.
“I’m so stoked,” she said. “I can’t believe I’ve won.”
In a very close affair, Hareb, with a cumulative total of 14.5 (out of a possible 20), was able to come from behind to take the title over Hodge, who scored a 13.57 (out of a possible 20).
“I just tried to get off to a quick start and get the best waves I could to build my heat,” she said.
In addition to the US$4,000 first place prize, Hareb was awarded with 2,000 valuable WQS ratings points, boosting her fight for qualification on the 2009 ASP Women’s World Tour.