Byron Bay’s Matt Wilkinson has won the Outerknown Fiji Pro after an action-packed Finals Day that saw the world’s best surfers battle in pumping waves at Cloudbreak.
Wilkinson’s win in round five on the 2017 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour came after hard-fought wins over 2017 CT Rookie Connor O’Leary (Australia), and 2017 World Title contenders Michel Bourez (Tahiti) and Julian Wilson (Australia).
The Australian came into Fiji determined to take the win after earning a runner-up finish to 2014 WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (Brazil) at this event last year.
Wilkinson’s incredible 2016 season saw him win the opening two events and finish the year in fifth place.
This win not only marks Wilkinson’s third CT victory, but sees him lead the elite World Title race heading into the next event.
‘We’ve had an awesome week that started with pumping waves and then had some lay days,’ said Wilkinson. ‘If you were going to have lay days anywhere, this is the place to do it’.
Wilkinson will now sport the coveted yellow Jeep Leader Jersey with 26,750 points on the leaderboard.
His win advances him past former leader and reigning WSL Champion John John Florence (Hawaii), as well as Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adriano de Souza (Brazil) and Owen Wright (Australia).
‘I am so stoked,’ continued Wilkinson. ‘It definitely feels good to pick up momentum rather than to have the yellow Jeep Jersey to lose. Now I have it to keep it. Thanks to everyone, all my support crew and everyone who has helped me.’
Lennox Head’s Stu Kennedy finished the event in ninth place after a great win over Adriano de Souza in round four and picked up 4,000 valuable points that will help to assist his efforts to stay on tour for 2018.
Byron Bay’s Neil Cameron managed to add another championship title to his mantelpiece at the 2017 HIF NSW Surfmasters Titles when he claimed the Over-60 Men’s division at Boomerang Beach in Forster.
The current Byron Bay Boardriders president and former NSW and Australian Champion effortlessly linked together a chain of turns to post a heat total of 13.5 to take the top spot on the dais and earn a spot into the NSW team for the upcoming Australian Surf Festival.