India Robinson (AUS) and Samuel Pupo (BRA) took the first victories of the 2023 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro presented by GWM. Both Robinson and Pupo recently fell off the Championship Tour (CT) after failing to make the Mid-season Cut. Their big wins today will get them well on their way to requalifying for the 2024 CT and put them on the top of the Challenger Series rankings.
Pictured: Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro Presented by GWM Finalists [Left-Right] Imaikalani deVault (HAW), Sawyer Lindblad (USA), Samuel Pupo (BRA) and India Robinson (AUS). Credit: © WSL / Shield
With the first Challenger Series event of the season now complete, the rankings have been decided and the first points towards qualifying for the 2024 CT have been claimed. Sawyer Lindblad (USA) and Imaikalani deVault (HAW) now sit at No. 2 on the rankings, just below Pupo and Robinson. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Crosby Colapinto (USA) also finished strong here at Snapper and are currently No. 3 on the rankings.India Robinson Claims Biggest Win of Her Career Thus Far
Australia’s India Robinson earned the biggest win of her career at Snapper Rocks today. The impressive result has put her on top of the 2023 Challenger Series rankings. It was a massive day for the 22-year-old former Championship Tour surfer who had to overcome 8x World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the Semifinals to book herself a spot in the Final. After qualifying for the CT in 2022, Robinson was unable to finish above the Mid-season Cut and had to return to the Challenger Series. She has worked hard to overcome concussions and injuries and today it all paid off as she got her requalification campaign off to the perfect start.
Robinson matched up with San Clemente’s Sawyer Lindblad (USA) in the Final. Both competitors were on the hunt for the biggest wins of their careers. As the sets began to slow, the surfer who found a rhythm was going to be the one to beat. Robinson got going early and posted a solid two-wave total of 14.17 (out of a possible 20). The number was too much for Lindblad to chase down, leaving Robinson to take a memorable victory.Samuel Pupo Bounces Back From Mid-season Cut Disappointment With Gold Coast Victory
Just over a week after the disappointment of falling short of the Mid-season Cut, Samuel Pupo (BRA) has bounced back brilliantly, claiming victory at the Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro. Pupo had minimal time to deal with his early exit at the Margaret River Pro before shifting his focus to the Challenger Series. His intent to win was made clear early on, putting on some of the best performances seen all week at Snapper Rocks. The 2022, CT Rookie of the Year is well and truly back on the road to CT qualification with his second win at this level and first since 2019.
“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.”
Pupo looked untouchable in the Final, finding every set wave up and down the bank to build momentum. He eventually landed a massive air-reverse followed by two turns to secure a 15.10 two-wave total, leaving Imaikalani deVault (HAW) needing a near-perfect score for the lead. DeVault also went to the air to post a 5.83, his best score of the Final, but it wasn’t enough to take the lead off a fired-up Pupo.Sawyer Lindblad and Imaikalani deVault Secure Career Best Results at Snapper Rocks
Sawyer Lindblad (USA) may have fallen short of taking the win at Snapper Rocks but a second-place finish is the strongest result of her career so far. Lindblad’s road to finals was not easy as she had to overcome CT veteran Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) in the Semifinals. Performing under pressure, Lindblad posted the highest single-wave score of the day, an 8.67 for several huge turns. The score was enough to turn the heat on Fitzgibbons and earn her a spot in the Final.
“It feels really good to make my first Final in the Challenger Series,” said Lindblad. “Obviously I wanted to win but it was so fun to surf snapper with just a few people out and I’m grateful to compete in this event.”
Similarly, to Pupo, event runner-up Imaikalani deVault (HAW) is looking to find his way back to the CT. He fell off after Margaret River in 2022, and narrowly missed requalifying this year. Today, the powerful natural footer secured the best result of his career and now finds himself sitting in second spot on the rankings heading into the next event at North Narrabeen.
“It feels insane, it felt really good to get into the first QS Final of my life,” said deVault. “This is my first experience seeing Snapper with swell. It's been an insane few weeks of being here. Making it to the Finals was the cherry on top.”
DeVault started his day by taking down an in-form Jacob Willcox (AUS). He then went on to take out Jett Schilling (USA) who had recently overcome current World No. 1 Joao Chianca (BRA) in the Round of 16. 2023 Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro pres. by GWM Women's Final Results:
1. India Robinson (AUS) 14.17
2. Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 10.17
2023 Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro pres. by GWM Men's Final Results:
1. Samuel Pupo (BRA) 15.10
2. Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 7.33
2023 Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro pres. by GWM Women's Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: India Robinson (AUS) 13.17 DEF. Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 10.77
HEAT 2: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 13.90 DEF. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 13.17
2023 Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro pres. by GWM Men's Semifinal Results:
HEAT 1: Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 13.34 DEF. Jett Schilling (USA) 12.16
HEAT 2: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 14.57 DEF. Crosby Colapinto (USA) 13.34
2023 Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro pres. by GWM Men's Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Imaikalani deVault (HAW) 12.50 DEF. Jacob Willcox (AUS) 9.97
HEAT 2: Jett Schilling (USA) 14.83 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 12.66
HEAT 3: Samuel Pupo (BRA) 14.86 DEF. Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) 7.70
HEAT 4: Crosby Colapinto (USA) 13.40 DEF. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) 12.76
For highlights from today's Boost Mobile Gold Coast Pro presented by GWM competition, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
Next Stop: GWM Sydney Surf Pro Presented by Bonsoy
The next stop on the 2023 WSL Challenger Series will be the GWM Sydney Surf Pro Presented by Bonsoy which will run from Wednesday, May 17 to Wednesday, May 24. The competition will be broadcast LIVE onWorldSurfLeague.com, the free WSL app, and the WSL’s YouTube channel. Also, check out more ways to watch from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.