Words courtesy World Surf League
Dion Atkinson (Seaford, SA) and Nikki Van Dijk (Phillip Island, Vic) have taken out the Australian Open of Surfing and the Aussie Bodies Women’s Pro respectively at Manly Beach.
After a couple of days with gruelling conditions, mother nature turned it on for a thrilling finals day with clean three foot waves on offer for competitors.
Atkinson was on fire all event posting excellent wave scores in each of his heats. The former Championship Tour (CT) competitor found himself in the final against young Italian sensation Leonardo Fioravanti, another standout at Manly. It was Atkinson’s experience that prevailed in the peaky beachbreak waves, posting a solid heat total of 14.66 (out of a possible 20) with some incredible power surfing, digging his rails hard on every turn. Atkinson is thrilled to get his 2016 campaign off to a great start as he aims to requalify for the elite CT.
“If someone told me that I would win this comp a few weeks ago I probably wouldn’t have believed them,” Atkinson said. “I feel like I put together a good comp and was able to build momentum through the week – I just can’t believe it. This event is always so daunting with the huge crowds, you can hardly think out in the water with everything going on so I’m pretty stoked with myself to keep it together.”
“Last year I got pretty close to requalifying right at the end of the year so getting a win like this early in the year is huge for me.”
Fioravanti, although coming just short for the second time this week – after a runner-up finish at Newcastle Surfest – is also setting a solid foundation for 2016.
“This is a great start to my qualifying campaign,” Fioravanti said. “Two seconds in a row is pretty tough to deal with but it is a good result regardless. The support this week has been amazing, huge crowds and seeing these Italian flags on the beach everyday was really cool.”
Van Dijk built momentum through each of her heats even eliminating local favourite and defending champion Laura Enever in the semifinals. The current world No. 10 left her best performance for the final posting two excellent scores a 9.66 and an 8.33, leaving runner-up Malia Manuel needing a combination score of 17.94 for the majority of the heat. Van Dijk posted her scores on lefts and rights going hell for leather on every turn she did.
“I’m so over the moon to win here at Manly,” Van Dijk said. “The waves were really fun today I felt like I was surfing a rip-bowl at home. Malia was surfing really well all event so I‘m stoked to get the win. There are so many people down here it’s such an amazing atmosphere on the beach. I’ve had the best week.”
Manuel’s performance was strong all event posting some massive scores, but was unable continue this in the final against her fellow CT competitor Van Dijk.
“I’m really happy to make the final,” Manuel said. “Posting some good scores and making some heats is a great way to relieve some stress before the next three CT events. Making the podium is always a good feeling so hopefully I can keep this going.”
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