Philippa Anderson earned a back-up score in the final minutes to win a third consecutive Michilis Mattara Surf Classic at South Bar Beach on Sunday.
Anderson started with a heat-high 7.67 in the fourth minute of the 25-minute women's final but struggled to find a decent second wave.
She trailed fellow South African-born Merewether surfer Sarah Baum 11.24 to 9.4 into the last eight minutes and earned a 5.83 with a backside carve and snap to lead with a minute remaining. Baum's last wave was a 5.53, leaving her short on 11.7. Elle Clayton-Brown (9.54) and Tyra Collins (5.37) were also in the decider.
"I dropped a seven at the start and then I really struggled to get another wave. It was pretty tough out there," Anderson said.
"I ended up down the beach because I got a right all the way, and it put me next to Sarah, who was surfing a different peak. Then I got a little left and it put me back in the lead."
Anderson said the win and $2000 prize were a boost heading into the final qualifying series event of the year, the 6000-point Port Stephens Pro, next week. She sits 20th on the QS and needs a finals result at Birubi Beach to have any hope of making the 2020 championship tour.
"It's really good to have that pay off, and just know I can get that score coming into Birubi," she said.
In the men's final, Central Coast's Ryan Slattery (15.83) beat past champions Jamie Skillin (13.4) and Nic Squiers (13.10), as well as Lliam Mortensen (12.17).
Nelson Bay's Mike Clayton-Brown dominated the boys' cadets final.
Back from the ISA world junior titles in the US, Clayton-Brown won with 15.34 from Isaac Foran (8.57), Jordan Liackman (8.43) and ackOscar Salt (5.63).
In the opens, Slattery led with an 8.5 for a 13.4 total with 15 minutes to go.
He improved to 14.57 with 10 remaining and to his final total of 15.83 with a score after the siren. Skillin dropped a 5.4 after the heat to rise to second.
More than $10,000 in prizemoney was on offer at the Michilis-backed event, which was in its 58th year, making it the longest-running annual surf contest.