|Rio Waida (INA) and Philippa Anderson (AUS) won the 2023 Nias Pro World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 5000 in firing, three-to-four foot surf at Lagundri Bay. Competitors in many of the morning’s Quarterfinal match-ups traded pumping barrels, including a best-of-the-event 10-point (out of a possible 10) ride earned by Anderson for a large, clean barrel.|
Waida and Anderson were both able to combo their fellow competitors, Tully Wylie (AUS) and Paige Hareb (NZL), in the early moments of their respective Finals, and each maintain a stronghold throughout, despite incredible performances from Wylie and Hareb earlier in the event.
Entering the event as the sole Championship Tour (CT) surfer and the highest seed, Rio Waida (INA) was always going to be the man to beat. The 23-year-old Tokyo 2020 Olympian waited until Finals Day to peak however, slowly building his heat totals throughout the event, before delivering a near-perfect 19.00 (out of a possible 20) in his Semifinal match against Oscar Berry(AUS). Throughout the event Waida was clear that his intentions weren’t to win, but to perform to the best of his abilities. And perform he did, to the loud cheers of a giant local crowd that showed up to show him their support.
Opening the Final with a 7.00 and almost immediately backing it up with an 8.77, Waida showcased his lightning fast rail-work, matching the judges criteria to a tee, with speed, power and flow on full display. After a litany of excellent scores throughout the rest of the event, Wylie was unable to come anywhere near cracking the Indonesian’s two-wave combination, especially after Waida notched a 9.60 midway through.
“I don’t know how to explain but I’m really happy that I came here to Nias and today, the Finals Day, Nias showed us the proper wave, the wave that everyone’s dreaming of,” Waida said. “In the Final I was kind of a little bit more nervous maybe, I saw more crowd and stuff and I thought I had to perform my best and then I think I did, I got a pretty good score. I haven’t watched the replay, you know, I have to learn and get better, but I’m happy with how I performed.”
“I’m really grateful that there’s so many people here,” Waida continued. “I’m just really grateful that I have so many supporters and of course representing my country, Indonesia, there’s so many locals that said, ‘Rio please, do it for us!’ They [were saying] it’s been Australians winning this event, so they want Indonesians to win this event and I think I did, so I hope I made everyone happy. I’m really proud of my surfing and I’m really grateful.”
Despite competing together for more than a decade, good friends and traveling roommates Philippa Anderson (AUS) and Paige Hareb (NZL) had never shared the final of an event together, until today. As the reigning event winner and holder of the highest women’s numbers of the event for two days running, Hareb seemed primed to find back-to-back wins, but today belonged to the South African-born Anderson, who claimed her first QS win since 2019.
After her epic 10-point barrel in the Quarterfinals took Anderson to victory over Ellie Harrison (AUS), the 31-year-old overcame event standout Rosie Smart (AUS) in the Semifinals in a much more subdued affair, both surfers having collected event-high totals in their prior heats. The Final itself was almost over before it began, Anderson immediately opened with a 7.00, and quickly built to an 8.33, her vertical attack on the opening section of the wave clearly sharpening over the course of the event. Meanwhile, Hareb struggled to complete a wave and never came close to matching the 8-point rides that she had found in almost every other heat. The win took Anderson to a commanding early lead in the Australia/Oceania QS Rankings.
“It’s been a while since I’ve won an event,” an emotional Anderson stated. “I’m so happy. To share it with Paige as well out there was super cool, she’s come back from injury. We did it for the older girls. My team and my family know it’s been a long five years with a few things in between and I’m so thankful. Every year I just keep putting the head down, and you know I got a fifth at Krui and I’ve been working so hard both in and out of the water. I’m speechless, but I’m so happy.”
“I said to Paige at the start, ‘Are we going to be super serious or are we going to be able to talk?’ and she was like, ‘Oh, we can talk, but we’ll also be serious,’” Anderson laughed. “I was waiting for a battle and I kind of built house at the start. I knew what I had to do and unfortunately she had a bit of a shocker out there. She was like ‘What am I doing? I have a 4 and a 3.’ But just in terms of us competing for so long to actually share that moment with one of your best friends. She just pushed me because I know that she can do some really big backhand turns so I just stuck to my guns and it’s such a special moment. I’m so thankful.”
Each of the third placed surfers in the event, Rosie Smart (AUS), Freya Prumm (AUS), Oscar Berry (AUS) and Jack Thomas (AUS), earned their career-best QS results, as did runner-up Tully Wylie (AUS), and all collected valuable points in their campaigns to qualify for the 2024 Challenger Series.
The 2023 Nias Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 5000 and Pro Junior events ran from September 11 – 17 at Lagundri Bay, Nias, Indonesia. For more information head to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the Free WSL App.
The 2023 Nias Pro is supported and funded by the South Nias Government.
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