The final round of the 2023 Victorian Open Series kicked off at Phillip Island with the opportunity for a select few surfers to take out the series title. With 2 foot groomed lines and Cape Woolamai producing constantly great set waves, the competitors were able to display their best surfing.
Coming into this event, only the Mornington Peninsula pair of Lucas Hickson (Rye) and Pedro Lani (Bittern) could overtake Willis Droomer (Bells Beach) to win the Victorian Open Series. However, with Droomer competing at the Lake Mac City Pro Junior in NSW the door was left wide open for either Hickson or Lani to overtake him.
In a turn of events during the Quarterfinals Pedro Lani (Bittern) was taken out of title contention after being knocked out in the dying minutes of his heat due to a buzzer beat wave by Ryder Tweedie (Aireys Inlet).
This put Lucas Hickson in the hot seat as he went into the final looking for a first place finish. However, to get into that first place on the rankings he was going to have to overcome Phillip Island local Harry de Roth (Phillip Island), 2021 Under 18 State Title winner Ethan Huxtable (Jan Juc) and Jack Bassett (Barwon Heads).
Hickson came out of the gates with a 6.17 point ride (out of a possible 10) however without a backup ride the lead was left wide open for the rest of the field. Ethan Huxtable capitalized on this by scoring a 6.90 point ride with a technical air reverse to tail slide to combo. This inspired Hickson to also take to the air as he completed a smooth air reverse of his own to earn a 6.87 point ride and the lead back.
After staying quiet in the first half of the final Harry de Roth found his way onto the biggest wave of the final to completely unload a series of power hacks to receive the highest score of the heat, an 8.27 point ride.
With de Roth making his way into first place Hickson decided to ramp up his aerial game by racing down the line and launching almost 2 meters into the air while rotating 360 degrees, however he unfortunately came down on the wrong part of the wave making the score inconsequential.
In the final minutes of the final De Roth backed up his excellent score with similar surfing to his previous ride earning a 7.27 point ride and a combined total of 15.54 points (out of a possible 20). This scoreline secured Harry de Roth the win. Blasting his last wave Huxtable obtained a combined total of 14.07 points that bumped him into second place.
“It feels great to win the last event of the series as I had a bit of a shocker in the others so it feels good to get on top,” said Harry de Roth.
“There were some fun lefts out there and you just had to be patient,” he continued.
With Harry winning the final round of the series he went into second place on the total ranking knocking Lucas Hickson out of contention for the title and leaving Willis Droomer on top of the 2023 Victorian Open Series Title.
On the other side of the draw in the Open Women, the Victorian State Title contenders were condensed to three people going into the final with Lucy Naylor (Point Lonsdale), Eva Bassed (Sandy Point) and Sophie Fletcher (Phillip Island) vying for the top spot on the podium.
Sophie Fletcher was looking strong all day and continued this momentum in the final by lighting up her first wave with a couple of vertical snaps. This set the tone for the final and ended up being the highest scoring ride of the final.
Emily McGettigan (Torquay) was able to put together two tail slides early in the heat however wasn’t able to get her way onto another set wave leaving her in third place. Lucy Naylor, needing a first place to win the state title, came close by posting a 4.83 point ride and a 5.23 point ride to claim a 10.06 combined heat total and second place.
With Fletcher being able to connect on two rides throughout the final she took out the final and jumped from 11th place on the series rankings to first place, overtaking Eva Bassed (Sandy Point).
“I didn’t even have any idea of the rankings, I was just keen to surf my home break with friends and family,” Sophie Fletcher stated.
“It was also cool to rock up and see fun waves to surf,” she added.
Another highlight of the day was the men’s Indigenous Titles which was taken out by Jordie Campbell (Torquay) with an impressive 16.07 combined heat total. Campbell put together multiple huge turns on the left hand runners to score an 8.00 point ride and an 8.07 point ride. Placing in second was Anthony Hume (Torquay), with Rhylee Duell (Phillip Island) coming in third.
Full results and scores can be found online at www.surfingvic.com/live
The Victorian Open Series and Victorian Teams Titles is supported by QUIT Victoria, VicRoads Community Safety Grants, Cancer Council Sunscreen and Surfing Victoria.