Holly Wawn (Australia/Newport) took her first World Surf League (WSL) win at the New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival defeating fellow Australian Isabella Nichols in stormy but good 1 meter plus surf at Fitzroy Beach Taranaki.
Wawn opened with a strong 7-point-ride and by mid-Final had backed that up with a solid 6.87 to control the bout from start-to-finish, taking a deserved win.
"It's so good to finally win a WSL event, I've had a number of second places and I was worried about getting pipped at the end of that Final so I'm really pleased to win," said Wawn.
"I head to Tahiti now for the next event which is super exciting and to go there with a win gives me a lot of confidence."
Wawn's victory elevated her to equal 1st on the Australasian WSL Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) rankings in an incredible three way tie with Isabella Nichols and 14-year-old Macy Callaghan from NSW's Central Coast.
Nichols was pleased with her 2nd place result and is looking forward to heading to Tahiti.
"It's incredible to have three girls tied for the series lead as we head to Tahiti, but it's also pretty stressful," said Nichols. "I just hope we get good waves over there and from what I hear about Tahiti there's an excellence chance we will."
The Port Taranaki Pro Women's QS6000 (Qualifying Series) is the premier event at this festival and Round 1 was completed in the best conditions of the day.
Tahitian surfer Karelle Poppke was the standout, posting an outstanding 9.40 ride to easily win through to Round 2. Earlier in the day Poppke scored a perfect 10 in her Round 3 Junior QS heat win.
"I've had a great day and that's my first perfect 10 point ride and hopefully not my last," said a confident Poppke.
"I'm confident here, the waves are really fun and I'm happy competing against all the international surfers and representing Tahiti."
"It's great to surf against international surfers and challenge my own surfing capabilities," said Gaby who recently won the NZ Open Women's Championships for 2015. "If I was to do really well here I'd certainly look to competing more out of New Zealand, but right now I'll take it heat-by-heat."
With excellent conditions forecast, all the top seeds including Championship Tour surfers Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Coco Ho (HAW), Laura Enever (AUS), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Sage Erickson (USA) and Dimity Stoyle (AUS) are all expected to surf tomorrow.
North Beach Junior Women's QS1000 Final:
1st: Holly Wawn (AUS/Northern Beaches Sydney) 13.87
2nd: Isabella Nichols (AUS/Sunshine Coast) 12.60