This week Caitlin simmers and Callum Robson beat some of the worlds best in big swell at Snapper Rocks to claim the Gold Coast Pro the first stop of the WSL Challenger Series.
After four massive days of flawless waves at Snapper, the east cost low began to show its teeth which caused wild and woolly conditions for Finals Day with competitors battling in strong-onshore winds and three-to-five foot waves. The conditions never detracted from the action with massive scores being dropped throughout the day.
The challenger series stocked full of first time CT hopefuls and those who just missed the mid season cut at Margaret River including the G.O.A.T Kelly Slater and Tyler Wright to name a few.
Today’s victory marked the second Challenger Series win for 16-year-old Caitlin Simmers (USA). Simmers won the US Open of Surfing last year and also earned the final spot for the elite Championship Tour (CT). After Simmers declined the spot on the CT for 2021, Molly Picklum (AUS) received entry as the next on the qualification list. Given how close they were on the 2021 Challenger Series rankings, it was no surprise to see the two matched up in the first Final of the Challenger season here at Snapper Rocks.
“I’m so happy to win the first Challenger Series event of the year,” said Simmers. “It was really tough out there and I didn’t even know where I was for half of the heat. I was kind of just guessing on that last one and I guess I got the score, but Molly is my favorite surfer. She’s so gnarly so it’s so fun to share the Final with her. My goals for the season are definitely to try and win the Challenger Series, I’d love to do that.”
“I’m so happy to win the first Challenger Series event of the year,” said Simmers. “This has been an incredible event with amazing waves even though today, it was extremely tough out there. The wind and rain was howling and it was victory at sea out there. I really had no idea what my situation was in that final minute but I felt I needed a good second wave score – I got that last wave and just surfed it as best I could and managed to get the score – A goal for the season is definitely to try and win the Challenger Series – I’d love to do that.”
Australians Callum Robson and Sheldon Simkus Take First and Second at Boost Mobile Pro
The men’s Final saw an all-Australian matchup between Callum Robson and Sheldon Simkus. Robson, representing Evans Head, is a current rookie on the 2022 CT and carried over his recent success into today’s Challenger Series Final to claim a win over Gold Coast local Simkus. The win marks Robson’s first Challenger Series victory, following his breakthrough second-place result on the CT at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach last month.
“It’s been a big day for me and an amazing event with fantastic surf and to win is incredible for me,” said Robson. “The year to date has been better than I could have imagined. I’ve had enormous support from the entire community from my hometown at Evans Head to surf this tour and I’m stoked to repay them and put Evans Head on the map.”
Hometown hero Simkus was a standout performer all event posting big scores and picking some of the best waves of the event, showing local knowledge is key at all locations around the world. In the end, Simkus fell just shy of the ultimate result but was proud to fly the Coolangatta flag on Finals Day in front of a home crowd of friends and family.
“It’s been a huge few days for me and such fantastic surf at my home break for this great event,” said Simkus. “It’s been a goal of mine for a long time to surf in this event, I just scraped into the field this year and to make the Final and surf against Callum in front of my home crowd has been amazing. It’s a really good start to the Challenger Series season and I have the confidence to keep going on this series.”