Coming off a decent start at the US Open with a 9th place finish, Ezekiel Lau (HAW) clearly stepped up his game this week, consistently posting some of the biggest scores ever since his very close call in Round 2. The Hawaiian never looked back and just blazed through the field on his way to a third win at the Challenger Series level (previously QS10,000).
Lau jumped from 34th to 1st on the Challenger Series rankings, in a very strong position heading into the back half of the season.
“Falling off tour a couple of years ago I’ve been working so hard ever since to just get back and winning here feels amazing,” Lau said. “I knew this was going to be a good event for me so I focused in on it. I trained long and hard for it so I’m just really stoked and just want to thank everyone that has helped me get to this point.”
In the Final, Lau wasted no time soaking in the amazing scenery at Ribeira but rather got busy early on to post two excellent (8+) scores in the opening ten minutes of the Final. Baker’s opening ride came in slightly below and the Australian sat patiently in the lineup with priority waiting for the right wave.
The following exchanges unfortunately never really offered much in terms of potential as Lau’s combination of two scores were a major hurdle in Baker’s path and the waves didn’t materialize.
Pictured: Baker was a standout all week in Portugal. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
Merewether’s Jackson Baker (AUS) was nowhere to be seen on the rankings after a poor first event in California, but the powerful regular foot found his groove on the Portuguese waves and posted his career-best performance so far. Spirits lifted by the whole Aussie posse, Baker’s exuberant turns and claims fired up the crowds all the way into the Final.
“When I first came in I was definitely a bit upset but overall I’m over the moon with this whole event,” Baker said. “It’ll slowly start sinking in and I’ll look at all the positives!”
Baker jumped from 65th on the Challenger Series rankings all the way up to 7th and is now a legitimate bet in the qualifying conversation.