The shores of Okuragahama Beach, Japan, were buzzing from the start for an exciting finals day at the White Buffalo Women’s Hyuga Pro QS 3,000 with a lot of surfing on schedule to crown the 2018 victor. That incredible victory belongs to QS veteran Paige Hareb after charging from Round 3 to the Final, not skipping a beat throughout the day and posting the event’s top performances en route to the podium over Australian upstart Isabella Nichols in clutch fashion.

It’s been nearly a decade in the waiting for Hareb, who’s fallen off the Championship Tour and showed her will to get back, and this win all but seals her re-qualification as she now sits at 13,800 points.

Hareb’s Hair-Raising Finish

The New Zealand native took advantage of the 30-minute Final as she sat patiently for nearly 20mins of the heat before getting things started against a busy Nichols.

The Australian had Hareb in an early, 12.40 (out of a possible 20) combination situation — meaning she needed two new scores to equal Nichols. But, the former Championship Tour (CT) showed her poise as the clock wound down below the four-minute mark needing a 6.77 (out of a possible 10) and delivering a 7.00 to steal the lead and a big win.

“This win is pretty special since it’s my first one in ten years when I last qualified for the Tour,” Hareb said. “I knew I had more time since it was a thirty-minute heat, but I just couldn’t find anything and maybe I was in the wrong spot. I had to be patient since I only needed two waves. It was frustrating seeing Bella get that one under my priority and it seemed she was on everything.”

Hareb had to overcome a talented lineup in her run toward the podium, starting the day off with a near-perfect 9.33 — the event’s highest single-wave score — and 8.17 for an event-best 17.50 heat total. But, the New Zealander wasn’t done yet and took down Holly Wawn in decisive fashion before a close heat with Japanese competitor Mahina Maeda in the Semifinals.

The 28-year-old now moves into the Top 6 with a remarkable performance as she looks to requalify.   “It’s given me a lot of confidence for the next event and to requalify,” Hareb added.