Finals Day At The Phillip Island Junior Pro Presented By Bass Coast Shire Council Doesn’t Disappoint With Six Competitors Coming Out Victorious

Published on 23/09/2023

Finals day at the Phillip Island Junior Pro presented by Bass Coast Shire Council did not disappoint with Woolamai Beach producing amazing rip bowl conditions for six competitors to come out victorious across the divisions. With a drop in swell, the event was moved to its primary location at Woolamai Beach which provided both left and right hand rip bowl options for the competitors. 

The semifinals set the tone for what was to come later on with Under 14 Girls surfer Eliza Richardson (Sunshine Beach) showing everyone how it was done. Collecting a 9.00 point ride on her first wave Richardson went straight back out to show the judges what else she had.

Within a couple of minutes, she found her way onto a perfect right hand peeler and laid into a couple of backhand carves to receive one of the highest scores of the day, a 9.60 point ride (out of a possible 10 points). This magnificent wave earned Richardson the Surf Better Now Wave of the Day award. 

Continuing on from yesterday’s momentum was Locana Cullen (Avalon Beach) who looked to be unbeatable all the way through the final. From the first hooter, Cullen was going as hard as he could, laying into a substantial forehand carve and a straight air to receive an early 8 point ride. A few minutes after this Cullen was seen drifting the tail on his first turn before smashing the lip all the way to the inside and then spinning into an air reverse.

With progression like this not seen in the Under 14’s yet, the judges awarded him a 9.25 point ride. Cullen refused to slow down until the final buzzer went, standing up within the last few seconds and flying down the line to pull off an unbelievable full-rotation air.

Rightfully so, Cullen was awarded a 10 point ride and the win with a 19.25 (out of a possible 20) combined heat total. Coming in second was Joey Silk (Crescent Head) on 12.55 points with Luke Silver (Fairlight) and Eden Alker (North Curl Curl) coming in third and fourth respectively.

“Yeah thats the biggest heat total I’ve had, I’m stoked,” exclaimed Cullen

Midway through the day, Buell Wetsuits held an expression session for the competitors with the biggest manoeuver receiving a free Buell Wetsuit. Over 30 groms lined up on the beach frothing to hit the water and show the judges what they had.

An early contender was Ben Zanatta Creagh (Dee Why) who went huge on a straight air dropping right to the flats. Everyone out there was hyped to go big and land an air for themself including Okie Fraser (Gnarabup) who pulled off a lofty air reverse to take out the expression session. 

In the Under 18 Boys final Harley Walters (Angourie) and Dane Henry (Fingal Head) started off strong with Henry laying into some power hacks for a 6.35 and Walters smashing out four major manoeuvers for a 7.75 and the early lead.

The ocean seemed to slow down after this with minimal major scores being locked in, leaving Walters in the hotspot and the rest of the field trying to catch him. Willem Watson (McCrae) tried to find an inside runner but was unsuccessful while Henry went for broke going for a full rotation only to come unstuck. 

“I wanted to get a quick start but then it went slow so I was stoked to get a couple of little ones,” said Walters.

“It was so fun, I’m just so happy to take it out,” he added.

Going into the last couple of minutes all surfers were able to get one more opportunity to overtake the current final leader. Henry made Walters very nervous with his last wave, needing a 7.85 point ride for first. He took to the air again this time landing a smaller full rotation spin and leaving the judges with something to think about.

After much time spent deliberating on the score, the judges gave Henry 6.75 points therefore awarding Walters with the title of Under 18 Boys champion. Henry placed second with a 14.20 point total and Watson and Samuel Lowe (North Wollongong, NSW) placed third and fourth.

On the other side of the draw in the Under 18 Girls, the final also came down to the wire with a flurry of scores all being dropped within the last few minutes. Going into the last four minutes Willow Hardy (Gnarabup, WA) had the lead with all the other girls looking for a score.

Milla Brown (Bungan, NSW) started the flurry of waves, hooking into three excellent forehand re-entries. Straight behind Brown’s wave, Ruby Berry (Margaret River, WA) went big by committing to one big backhand snap. Not even waiting around to hear her competitor’s scores Hardy took off out the back and went straight into two carves before opting to swing left on the same wave and get one more big left-hand layback in. 

After the dust had settled and the scores had been locked in, Brown ended up on top securing an 8.75 point ride for her last wave, crowning her the Under 18 Girls champion. Hardy came in second with a 12.35 point total with Berry and Natalie Fensom (Newcastle East, NSW) placing third and fourth respectively.

“It was super fun with all the girls out there but it was tricky as always. I’m stoked to get the win though,” said Brown.

“I saw this sick one coming towards me and then I did what I could on it and got the score,” she continued. 

Other division winners included Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head, NSW, Under 16 Girls), Lachlan Arghyros (Kingscliff, NSW, Under 16 Boys) and Eliza Richardson (Sunshine Beach, QLD, Under 14 Girls).

Finals Results:

U18 Girls
1st – Milla Brown (Bungan, NSW), 13.35
2nd – Willow Hardy (Gnarabup, WA), 12.35
3rd – Ruby Berry (Margaret River, WA), 10.95
4th – Natalie Fensom (Newcastle East, NSW), 8.35

U18 Boys
1st – Harley Walters (Angourie, NSW), 14.20
2nd – Dane Henry (Fingal Head, NSW), 13.10
3rd – Willem Watson (McCrae, VIC), 8.70
4th – Samuel Lowe (North Wollongong, NSW), 8.00

U16 Girls
1st – Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head, NSW), 16.00
2nd – Ziggy Mackenzie (Bilinga, QLD), 14.20
3rd – Olive Hardy (Gnarabup, WA), 12.65
4th – Grace Gosby (Caringbah, NSW), 11.55

U16 Boys
1st – Lachlan Arghyros (Kingscliff, NSW), 14.40
2nd – Taj Air (Thirroul, NSW), 11.95
3rd – Felix Byrnes (Merewether, NSW), 11.15
4th – Mitchell Peterson (Noosa Ville, QLD), 9.30

U14 Girls 
1st – Eliza Richardson (Sunshine Beach, QLD), 15.25
2nd – Rosie Richardson (Sunshine Beach, QLD), 14.50
3rd – Miller-May Berg (Miami, QLD), 10.00
4th – Talia Tebb (Kincumber, NSW), 7.75

U14 Boys
1st –  Locana Cullen (Avalon Beach, ), 19.25
2nd – Joey Silk (Crescent Head, NSW), 12.55
3rd – Luke Silver (Fairlight, NSW), 8.85
4th – Eden Alker (North Curl Curl, NSW), 8.45

Full scores and results is available via www.surfingvic.com/phillipislandjunior 
 
The Phillip Island Junior Pro is presented by Bass Coast Shire and supported by the Victorian Government Significant Sporting Events program, Carve Sunglasses, Buell Wetsuits, GLOBE, SurfBetterNow.com and Surfing Victoria.

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