It’s always nice to claim that you won the first contest of the series.That’s a boast that belongs to both Shane Campbell and Kobie Enright after they secured victories in the Carve Pro yesterday.

The Carve Pro, which was held over four days at Maroubra beach, is the first event on the Australian leg of the 2018, WSL calendar and also the opening event of the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series, which includes contests at Cabarita Beach, Avoca Beach and Boomerang Beach. The four events offer competitors the opportunity to surf their way up the east coast of NSW in the hunt for valuable WQS points. It’s also a chance for surfing fans to witness world-class surfing from a field of local and international competitors, while exploring the treasures of the NSW coastline.

After kicking off in solid conditions last Thursday, the waves at the Carve Pro tapered off throughout the event. However, by finals day the waves were still two-foot and fun with Maroubra extracting the most out of the small easterly swell, beneath classic, Sydney blue skies.  

Shane Campbell whipping a left at Maroubra. WSL/Ethan Smith

In the men’s division final, Sydney surfers from different sides of the bridge traded waves on Maroubra’s unpretentiously named ‘Dunnybowl’ bank. Seasoned WQS competitor, Shane Campbell, is from Cronulla to the south, while Harley Ross calls the Northern Beaches home. While Campbell had made multiple finals in the past, it was Ross’s first appearance in the ultimate stage of a WQS event.

Eager to wipe away the memory of a number of second place finishes in 2017, Campbell was the pace setter, posting a 6.00 and an 8.25 early the final to leave Harley Ross playing a game of catch up. Although Harley couldn’t find the 7.26 he needed to snatch the lead, after the heat he suggested he was just happy to have made his first final.

"This is my first QS event final so I'm really stoked," … "The waves were really suited to me this week which was great. Although it was small, they had a great shape so it was really fun. I'm heading to a QS3,000 in Hawaii next week so I'm stoked to be heading into that with a bit of momentum."

Ross’s result is a positive sign for surfers from Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Although the stretch boasts multiple men’s and women’s world champions, in recent years it has struggled to launch surfers into surfing’s top flight, with Davey Cathels and Laura Enever perhaps the two notable exceptions.

Meanwhile for Campbell, it was a chance to savor a victory close to home and hopefully kick starts a quest to join fellow Cronulla surfer, Connor O’Leary, on the WCT.

"My aim this year was to get another win so to do it in the first event of the season is really cool,” suggested Campbell.  “It's the best start when you're going for a solid showing on the Qualifying Series. Coming from Cronulla, I have spent a bit of time in this area and am comfortable with the waves, this was definitely an advantage for me this week. I'm excited for the next event and to see what sort of a run I can get on in 2018."

Like Campbell, Carve women’s division winner, Kobie Enright, knows what it’s like to taste the bitterness of second place. In the same event last year Kobie finished runner-up to the highly regarded Macy Callaghan. Enright’s determination to avoid another bridesmaid result helped bring focus to her commanding performance. 

Kobie Enright slashing to victory in the Carve Pro. WSL/Ethan Smith

"Coming second is really tough and I definitely didn't want it to happen again," Enright said. "I'd rather get fifth or first but not second again. The ultimate goal at every event is to win, but this one is sweeter than most. I'm really stoked to take out the first event of the season, I feel like it will put me in a really good stead going into the 2018 season.

"For runner-up Molly Picklum it was still a day for celebration. At only fifteen, Molly, who is from the NSW central coast, is already upstaging much more experienced competitors.
"I came to this event to try and get some experience surfing against the older girls," Picklum said. "I definitely didn't expect to do very well so to end up in the final with Kobie was a bit of a shock, the small surf over the last couple of days was definitely to my advantage."

For the next event on the Vissla NSW Pro Surf Series competitors head North to Cabarita Beach on the Tweed Coast. Between Jan 31 they will do battle beneath the Pandanus Palms at Cabba’, one of the most spectacular natural amphitheatres on the Northern NSW coast. Bring on the swell.   

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