“Hot damn” isn’t how we normally start off these World Surfing League Championship Tour recaps, but we’re excited, so… hot damn!
The reason for our elation? On Monday night, Blenders rep and surfing phenom, Lakey Peterson, added to her legend with a serious victory.
After a less-than-ideal start to the 2019 season marred by injury and hardship, Lakey struck back this week and nabbed top honors in Western Australia on the fourth stop of the CT.
Santa Barbara’s surfing sensation started strong, scoring an upset over seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore, who was competing in her home country’s waters. In doing so, Lakey set the heat record on the season with an unbelievable score of 18.83.
Building on her standout effort against Gilmore in the quarters, she rode the wave of momentum into the semis, edging out Hawaii’s Carissa Moore, 15.97 to 15.80. Emboldened by that clutch victory, Lakey was able to finish the job in the finals against Tatiana Weston-Webb.
It’s an interesting juncture for Lakey to earn her first win of the season. She’d never won Margaret River Pro previously and, moreover, only made the quarterfinals once in five previous attempts. Arguably part of the reason is her fear of sharks:
"Lakey was really scared of the sharks and the power of the waves when she first started coming to West Oz," said her coach Mike Parsons. "But I told her that her surfing suits this place. I told her she would win this event one day and she thought I was crazy.”
Perhaps it is fitting then that Lakey had to overcome her fear to win her first Margaret River Pro title. During the quarters, a small shark made an appearance and the safety team was forced to halt action. However, following the resumption of competition, Lakey was composed and carried the day.
"This event has been a hard one for me to overcome," said Peterson. "After beating Stephanie and Carissa and making it through the quarterfinals, I found some extra momentum and fire and had definitely figured it out at Main Break. Tatiana was surfing so well so a big congratulations to her.”
Lakey’s fourth career WSL event title catapults her to #6 overall on the 2019 Jeep Leaderboard. She finished 2nd overall last season.
Lakey, we’re immensely proud of ya and can’t wait for what you have in store for the rest of the season. Congratulations!
On the men’s side, it should perhaps come as little surprise that Hawaii’s John John Florence prevailed yet again at Margaret River Pro—he finished 1st in 2017 after a 2nd-place finish in 2015, and won it in 2012 when it was part of the Qualifying Series. But it’s not as if he wasn’t pushed—in fact, he faced a familiar foe along the way to glory in West Oz.
After dispatching of Italo Ferreira in the quarters and Caio Ibelli in the semis, Florence faced good friend, Kolohe Andino of San Clemente, in the finals—just as he did in 2017. And while an Andino win would have represented the first California sweep of an event in WSL Championship Tour history, it was not to be, with Florence again coming out on top.
Andino fought admirably and went wave-for-wave with his contemporary for much of the action, but Florence pulled away in the final minutes when he used priority and nailed a near-perfect 9.50. As a result, he now sits atop the Jeep Leaderboard after four stops on the tour.
"I'm super stoked to win in Margaret River again," Florence said. "Brother (Kolohe Andino) was pushing me super hard in that heat and it was pretty nerve-racking in those last 12 minutes because it got really slow out there, so I knew I had to pick the perfect wave. Kolohe is scary to surf against in waves like this. That was our second Final out here and he is always such a threat."
It’s been a fascinating season thus far! Keep it with us because the action isn’t slowing down anytime soon—CT stop #5 goes down at Oi Rio Pro in Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 20 - 28!