India Robinson of Australia and Samuel Pupo of Brazil were crowned champions at yesterday’s Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro event, the first competition of the 2023 World Surf League Challenger Series.
The tournament closed out in 2-3 foot conditions at Snapper Rocks in Gold Coast, Where a full day of action saw Pupo and Robinson victorious and on track to hopefully re-qualify for the 2024 Championship Tour hopefully.
The event marked the beginning of the qualification process for the 2024 CT, with those who missed the mid-season cut fighting to get back on tour, and a wave of young guns hoping to make the big jump to the Championship Tour.
For India Robinson, it was the most significant achievement of her career, having defeated the queen of snapper, eight-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore in the semifinals. Robinson had to overcome injuries and concussions to make it to this point, and she described the victory as surreal. Robinson worked hard to start her requalification campaign flawlessly, and she is grateful for her support crew, without whom she wouldn’t be where she is today.
In the final, Robinson went head-to-head with Sawyer Lindblad of the USA, and both surfers were eager to secure the most significant win of their careers. Robinson posted an impressive two-wave total of 14.17, which proved too much for Lindblad to chase down, resulting in Robinson claiming a remarkable victory.
“It feels so surreal right now it’s been an amazing week here and I can’t believe I’m standing here now as a winner,” said Robinson. “I got a second-place finish at a Challenger Series a few years ago so I knew I could get here but to actually have the win now feels amazing. After I fell off the tour last year, I gave up my spot on the Challenger Series to focus on my health. I spent a lot of time here surfing at Snapper during my recovery and today I guess it all paid off. I’m so grateful for my support crew, I wouldn’t be here today without them all.”
Samuel Pupo of Brazil, who was disappointed by his early exit at the Margaret River Pro, bounced back and claimed victory at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro. Pupo had little time to recover from his disappointment before shifting his focus to the Challenger Series. The 2022 CT Rookie of the Year delivered some of the best performances seen all week at Snapper Rocks, and he is back on track to qualify for the CT with his second win at this level and first since 2019.
In the final, Pupo made the most of every set wave up and down the bank to build momentum, and he eventually landed a massive air-reverse followed by two turns to secure a 15.10 two-wave total. This left Imaikalani deVault of Hawaii requiring a near-perfect score to take the lead. Despite executing a fantastic air and posting a 5.83, it wasn’t enough to dethrone a fired-up Pupo.
“It feels so good to win, it was such a hard year for me,” said Pupo. “I got one good result and I just needed one more result but came up short. But God knows his plan and I just tried to reset coming to the Gold Coast. Winning here is another dream come true. Thank you, everyone, for supporting me. There are so many good things around me besides falling off the tour. Two weeks ago I was having such a hard time and now I’m winning a contest. I can’t wait to go to Narrabeen and do my best.”
The Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro proved to be an exciting start to the 2023 World Surf League Challenger Series; with India Robinson and Samuel Pupo taking the top honours, the series now moves to Narrabeen in NSW for round two.