Byron Bay’s Dave Winchester has upset his more fancied rivals to take out the Kiama Bodyboard Pro on Thursday.
The wildcard entrant delivered scores of 8.00 and 5.25 to take out a low-scoring final at Bombo beach.
A former full-time bodyboarder, Winchester has taken time away from competition in recent years to focus on business opportunities and he was considered an outsider to take home the crown.
Winchester, however, was able to make the most of challenging conditions in the final, with the big waves the competitors had been hoping for failing to eventuate.
Morroco’s Brahim Iddouch held the early lead in the final, but couldn’t add a quality second wave and finished in second position. Iddouch was followed by South African Iain Campbell and Japan’s Hayato Enokido.
“I’m pretty stoked, the last few years I haven’t been doing too many contests, just selling and distributing bodyboards,” Winchester said.
“We’ve been working hard and obviously with the family it’s time consuming, but I love it. I was just stoked to get the wildcard and get back into it again.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be here. Looking at the other 31 guys in it, it was a stacked field and those guys these days, they can do flips off anything, so to be here is pretty special.”
The week-long competition was plagued by smaller than expected waves, with Thursday marking the final day of the event window. As a result, organisers were forced to throw the athletes into the water in tricky surf conditions.
Winchester was pleased with the way he adjusted to suit the conditions to come away with the victory.
“The waves were pretty small this afternoon, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.
“I actually didn’t do any ARS or back-flips the whole competition until the final, so I wasn’t necessarily surfing the best the whole contest, but I was on the best waves and that’s half of it in these conditions.”
South African world tour leader Campbell had a chance to secure the overall world title with a victory, however he struggled throughout the final and was unable to find two high-scoring waves.
The women’s final was taken out by Brazilian Isabela Sousa who claimed the victory on her final wave of the competition. Japan’s Ayaka Suzuki thought she had the title wrapped up, until Sousa’s last-wave score of 6.8 handed her the victory after the final hooter.
“I was trying to catch a wave with more conditions to catch Ayaka,” Sousa said. “In the last minute I did a spin and a roll and I was thinking ‘please, please.’ I was crying and I never cry, I was crying on the beach.”