Silvana Lima (BRA) tore through the star studded field to claim victory at the ASP 6-Star Qualifying Series (QS) Port Taranaki Pro on the final day of the New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival. Hundreds of surf fans lined the shores at Fitzroy Beach, Taranaki to watch a selection of the world's best female surfers battle for all-important ASP QS ranking points and prize-money in reeling 3-foot (1-metre) lefts and rights.
Lima was sitting in second place with only three minutes left of the 30 minute final. She chased down a left and unloaded a barrage of tight and technical turns, scoring an 8.00 and stealing the win from Samsung Galaxy ASP Women's World Championship Tour (WCT) competitor Laura Enever (North Narrabeen, NSW/AUS). Lima was on the WCT circuit for seven years until re-occurring knee injuries saw her drop off last year. But the innovative Brazilian is back to her best and on track for a return in 2015 after claiming the No. 1 spot on the ASP QS rankings.
"I haven't been in a Final for three years because of my injured knee and it feels so good to be back," Lima said. "I'm getting closer to being back on the WCT next year, I just need to stay fit and focused."
Enever was on fire in her Quarterfinal and Semifinal clashes, attacking the lip with speed, power and flair and netting excellent scores for her efforts. In the Final it looked like she had the win, sitting in first place with only three minutes to go, but was leapfrogged by Lima. Enever had one last chance, taking off on a nice wave with four seconds remaining on the clock, but she fell on her second turn and handed victory to Lima.
"I've been trying to search for that competitive fire that I used to have and I feel like I found it today," Enever said. "I used to make a lot of Finals, but I lost the flair or fire and it feels so great to be posting good scores and surfing good heats again."
Sage Erickson (USA) lost out to Lima in the Semifinals finishing the event with her second third place finish on QS circuit for 2014. Erickson moves into fourth on the ASP QS rankings and has her eyes firmly focussed on reclaiming a spot on the ASP WCT.
"It's a little bittersweet, I want to do one heat better and get into the Final," Erickson said. "I knew that Silvana was going to be tough competition, she's just so good in beach breaks and small conditions so I knew it was going to be tough and I'll just take this one on the chin and hopefully go one better in the next event."
Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), who won the Chain Resources Pro Junior two days ago had to settle for third place in the Port Taranaki Pro after she was eliminated by a red-hot Enever in the Semifinals. Weston-Webb was one of the in-form surfers of the event, consistently posting big scores with her fast and powerful brand of surfing.
"I came into this event trying to have fun and that's what I did," Weston-Webb said. "My first two events weren't too good, so this event I really wanted to try and get a good result and now I have a lot more confidence going into the other events."
Weston-Webb will be stepping in for Courtney Conlogue (USA) in the Women's Rio Pro Presented by Billabong, stop No. 4 of the WCT. Conlogue sustained an ankle injury during a freesurf at Bells Beach forcing her to withdraw.
For more information log on to Surffest.co.nz
New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival is presented by TSB Community Trust, Venture Taranaki, ZM, Marbles Buffet, Devon Hotel