Surfing: Isabella Nichols clinches first major title with 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro win

Isabella Nichols clinched her first major World Surf League Qualifying Series win on Sunday when she won the 2019 Port Stephens Toyota Pro championship.

Nichols took down fellow Australian Macy Callaghan in the 35-minute final at Birubi Beach where the two went toe-to-toe in clean three-to-four foot waves for the last WSL Women's QS event of the 2019 season.

After finishing runner-up in the first two QS6000 events earlier in 2019, Nichols was placed in a solid position to qualify for the elite Championship Tour and locked in her spot with a few events to go in the season. The only boxes left to tick were a major event win and to take the title of QS Champion for 2019.

"Words can't even explain what I'm feeling right now," Nichols said on Sunday. "I had a few second places already this year, which was great but to finally get a win, in the last contest, at the end of the year it feels unreal.

"Coming into this year I wanted to win a QS event which I've done now, but to win the entire series is so sick."

Championship Tour rookie Macy Callaghan has had a tough competitive season, struggling to find a solid result on both the CT and QS tours. She looked as if she was going to drop off the CT at the end of this season.

Callaghan, like last year, needed to make the final at the Port Stephens Toyota Pro to guarantee herself a spot on the Championship Tour in 2020.

In true clutch style, Callaghan tore through the field to lock herself a spot in the Final and a spot on the 'dream tour' next year.

"Today felt exactly the same as last year," Callaghan said. "I was super nervous, but I did feel strangely comfortable - I think because I really love it here at Birubi.

"I knew what I needed to do today and that was just surf well and put a few heats together. It's been a super long and tiring day but with really fun waves. It was great to share a final with Bella (Nichols) and I'm stoked to have a new face on tour next year.

"She's such a great surfer so I knew it was going to be hard. In the end, she got me but that's all good."

Two surfers that did enough to guarantee their spots on the elite Championship Tour in 2020 were Keely Andrew (Australia) and Brisa Hennessy (Costa Rica).

Andrew, who fell off tour at the end of 2018 and surfed as an injury replacement for Tyler Wright this year, locked herself in as a full-time competitor in 2020 with a fifth-place finish at Port Stephens. Hennessy finished equal third.

For Mahina Maeda (Japan) and Zahli Kelly (Australia), their earlier than hoped eliminations on Sunday meant their dreams of making the CT cut for 2020 are now over.

Comments