It’s good to be young – Point Loma surfer competes in Super Girl Pro, which was dominated by teenagers
Published - 07/31/19 - 08:00 AM | 21829 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Seventeen year-old Samantha Sibley, from San Clemente, won the Super Girl Pro. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Seventeen year-old Samantha Sibley, from San Clemente, won the Super Girl Pro. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Brooke Young, from Point Loma, surfs in the first round on Friday, July 26. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Brooke Young, from Point Loma, surfs in the first round on Friday, July 26. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Brooke Young, from Point Loma, competes in the first round on Friday, July 26. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Brooke Young, from Point Loma, competes in the first round on Friday, July 26. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil) finished second. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil) finished second. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Samantha Sibley in the Quarterfinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Samantha Sibley in the Quarterfinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Kirra Pinkerton in the Quarterfinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Kirra Pinkerton in the Quarterfinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Tatiana Weston-Webb poses for photos on the beach after her win in the Semifinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Tatiana Weston-Webb poses for photos on the beach after her win in the Semifinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Caroline Marks in the Semifinals against Samantha Sibley. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Caroline Marks in the Semifinals against Samantha Sibley. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Leilani McGonagle in the Quarterfinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
Leilani McGonagle in the Quarterfinals. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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Seventeen year-old emerging star Samantha Sibley, from San Clemente, overcame a stacked field of top-ranked competitors to stand atop the Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro podium in Oceanside on July 28, earning her first World Qualifying Series (QS) title and becoming the youngest champion to wear the Super Girl Pro cape.

Previous Super Girl Pro champ, Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil) finished second, with last year’s runner-up Caroline Marks (Florida), and Bronte Macaulay (Australia) earning third.

The tournament saw top-ranked surfers such as Sage Erickson, Malia Manuel and Johanne Defay eliminated on Saturday, and teenagers (Sibley, Marks, Leilani McGonagle, and Kirra Pinkerton) take four of the eight slots in the Quarterfinals on Sunday, with Marks and Sibley advancing to the Semifinals.

Another teenage surfer, Brooke Young, who recently graduated from Point Loma High, competed on Friday at the tournament for the first time. She finished third in her heat and did not advance, but savored the opportunity.

“For the last couple years I’ve been waitlisted, but this year I made the top 100 and actually qualified for the event based off of my results from last year’s QS events that I surfed,” Young said. “I was happy just to make the cut and surf in my first Super Girl event.

“I decided to go big or go home in my heat and went for the bigger more critical turns, but the waves weren't going my way unfortunately,” she said. “This event is full of some of the best surfers from around the world, so every heat is competitive.”

Super Girl Pro is the largest female surf contest in the world, which focuses on women-powered entertainment and inspiration, both in and out of the water.

“The event is known for it’s female empowerment, but it is also a big event worth a lot of points,” Young said. “However, all of the girls are so relaxed and having fun, you would hardly know it’s so important. Before the event, I was free-surfing in Oceanside and the entire lineup was girls. That never happens!”

Young plans to pursue a career in surfing by competing at QS events and taking college classes online. “The events are around the world so there’s going to be a lot of travel, but I love it.”

For Sibley, the win skyrockets her from No. 52 to No. 6 on the QS rankings, with a strong shot to land a spot on the Championship Tour (CT) next season.

"This is the best day of my life! I can't believe I just won the Super Girl Pro,” said an emotional Sibley. “I've been coming to this event ever since I was little, standing on this beach, taking pictures with all my heroes, and now to be the Super Girl ... I'm at a loss for words."

Weston-Webb wasn’t the only CT elite Sibley had to get past. She also served up a stunning win over fellow 17-year-old and 2018 Rookie of the Year Marks in the Semifinals. Sibley’s versatile approach with her vertical backhand and powerful forehand attack helped her garner some of the day’s highest scores along the way – including the event’s highest heat total of a 15.76 (out of a possible 20) in Round 5 and a single wave score of 8.00 (out of a possible 10) in the Final.

The friendships amongst the competitors in this event is well-known, and this was never more evident than on the beach after Semifinal Heat 2, when the first person to congratulate Sibley was Weston-Webb.

"It meant the world to me to be out there with Tatiana. I couldn't pick a better person to be in a final with, she's such an amazing surfer, she’s so strong,” said Sibley of her Finals competitor Weston-Webb. “I’ve looked up to her for years and now we’re really good friends, so to be in a Final with her was just the cherry on top.”

The bitter-sweet finish gave Weston-Webb 4,550 points and a second runner-up medal at the event, in addition to her 2015 victory. The CT veteran has attended the Super Girl Pro contest every year since the event’s switch to a QS, and has rarely found herself not competing on finals day. The 23-year-old fought her way through the likes of Teresa Bonvalot (Portugal), McGonagle (Costa Rica), and fellow CT competitor Macaualy with impressive numbers of her own that included a 15.10 heat total in the Semifinals.

A pair of CT elite finished with Semifinal appearances as Marks fell to eventual winner Sibley and Macaulay fell victim to Weston-Webb’s vicious backhand performance. Marks leaves the Nissan Super Girl Pro still atop the North America rankings, and Macaulay’s result was her best of 2019.

“This year’s Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro told such inspiring story for the record-breaking crowds that came out to see all the action,” said Rick Bratman, CEO of ASA Entertainment, the event’s producer. “To see a young local surfer go from watching her heroes on the beach at the event when she was 10, to becoming our youngest champ yet, was just an incredible story. Sam showed the next generation of aspiring female surfers that anything is possible.”

ADAPTIVE SURF COMPETITION

More young sensations stood atop the podium during Sunday’s awards ceremony as 16-year old Olivia Stone and 11-year-old Faith Lennox finished first and second, respectively, in the first ever Super Girl Surf Pro Adaptive Heat. Retired USMC Captain Sarah Bettencourt earned third place.

One of the day’s highlights included famed pro-surfer Bethany Hamilton (Hawaii) and Charles "Chaka" Webb, who runs the US Open Adaptive Surfing Championship, providing commentary as six female adaptive surfers took to the water to spark inspiration in everyone on the beach. Stone, a congenital bilateral above the elbow amputee, earned the top honors with an amazing performance as she rode one of her scoring waves from the outside nearly to the shoreline.

“It was incredible to hear my name called first and to step on the tallest step of the podium and be announced as the winner was a moment that I will always remember,“ said Stone. “If you have a passion and you want to pursue it, just don’t look back and keep charging. I just want to show everyone that women are strong and we are super.”

"To have all these amazing adaptive athletes go for it just inspires other people to go out and do it," Hamilton said. "It's absolutely amazing and beautiful to see."

CELEBRITY INVITATIONAL

Famed SoCal band Switchfoot bassist Tim Foreman teamed up with pro surfer and Super Girl competitor Chelsea Roett (Barbados) to win the Celebrity Surf Invitational, narrowly beating out the team of Lindsey Jacobellis, the most decorated snowboard cross athlete in the world, and QS No. 12 Alyssa Spencer (Carlsbad). The team of ESPN and X Games commentator Sal Masekela and Junior Pro Caitlin Simmers (Oceanside) finished in third place.

CONCERT SERIES, SUPER GIRL GAMER PRO

The weekend-long event was all about free, women-powered entertainment and inspiration, both in and out of the water. The Nissan Concert Series, headlined by Natasha Bedingfield, continued to rock the Radio Disney Stage with performances by James Maslow, pop sensation Austin Mahone, an all-female DJ competition, and much more.

The Super Girl Gamer Pro — the only all-female, multi-title esports tournament in the U.S. — saw winners crowned for Hearthstone (Anna Damir and Becky Booth in first and second, respectively) and team CLG RED winning the CS:GO women’s showcase match.

“Nissan is proud to be the 2019 title sponsor of the Super Girl Surf Pro,” said Shawn Mirabal, regional vice president, Nissan North America. “We are committed to the Super Girl Pro Series of surf and snow events and their mission to celebrate female empowerment and strength. As a company, we have the opportunity to help inspire the next generation of women through action sports. We look forward to continuing our support in 2020 at Nissan Super Girl Snow Pro.”

For more information on Nissan Super Girl Surf Pro, visit supergirlpro.com.
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