WINNING at Surfest meant even more to Hawaiian Coco Ho seven years on at Merewether on Sunday as she toppled two-time defending world champion Tyler Wright to deny a family clean sweep.
Ho won the Grandstand Sports Clinic Women's Pro final before Wright’s younger brother, Mikey, claimed the Burton Automotive Pro men’s title with a dominant victory over Hawaiian teenager Barron Mamiya in small, wind-swept conditions.
It was the first time siblings had competed in dual finals of a World Surf League qualifying series event but Ho worked hard early in the women’s decider to ensure the Wrights did not take both 6000-point titles.
Ho built a lead surfing the southern end of the competition area, earning scores of 5.17 and 6.33 for a 11.50 total.
Wright spent the first 15 minutes of the 35-minute decider 100 metres further north but moved to join Ho when needing a 6.83 to take the lead.
That became 5.74 for the final 16 minutes and the 23-year-old from Culburra went close with a 5.57 with three minutes to go but finished with a 11.34 total.
It was Wright’s first appearance at Surfest since 2011, the year Ho won the event as a 19-year-old.
Ho, who retained her place on the championship tour through her QS efforts last year, said the win at Surfest meant more than her first.
“Surfing has evolved so much, it’s so much bigger than it was in 2011,” Ho said.
“And with Olympics coming up for us in 2020, it’s definitely a bigger stage and I love that I can prove that at 26, 27, we’re still the ones in the final.
“I’m just stoked to even think that I came back seven years later and still won.
“It means a lot to me. It means I’m still getting better, I’m still learning and I’m still capable of victories.”
Ho caught 15 waves in the final and Wright 14 as both struggled to complete more than one turn in the testing conditions.
“It was definitely anybody’s day,” Ho said.
“It was definitely trying conditions but I was super energised and stoked to surf, and I think that does always win.
“I definitely stayed busy all day, from my first heat to now, and I think that’s the point of difference in these tricky conditions. Just wanting to surf is a huge plus.
“I came into this year just wanting to really make every event count, every event be a result.
“I didn’t do that in Florida so I’m going to pretend that this is my start.”
Wright said Surfest worked in better with her schedule this year and the final was fun.
“I’m really happy with how this event has gone,” Wright said.
“It was good to get into the contest mode and get some heat practice before the CT kicks off and making the final is definitely good for the confidence.”
Wright battled through a knee injury to the win the world title last year and said “everything’s good” with the joint heading into the CT opener at Snapper Rocks next month.