Taranaki’s Paige Hareb has yet again shown her mettle with an outstanding performance at the 2023 Nias Pro QS5000, finishing second to her good friend, Phillipa Anderson.
The defending event winner Paige opened her Nias Pro campaign on Day 3 in Lagundri Bay with a statement-making 8.50 with a critical vertical backhand reentry, right in the pocket of a solid set wave. Backing it up with a 7.83, Paige’s 16.33 heat total was the highest of the day for the women.
Paige injured her knee during a heat at the ISA World Surfing Games in June, and has been out of the water for three months, with Day 3’s heat marking her first return to competition.
“That was such a good welcome back,” Hareb smiled. “It’s similar to a wave back home, so I’m pretty comfortable in these conditions, but that was another level out there today. I haven’t surfed for the last three months … I only got five surfs in at home before I came here, so every surf out here has been a blessing and yeah, I’m loving it. For the 8.50 I was just trying to hang on in the first drop and trying to get that first turn in. I knew if you can get a second turn out there then you’re going to get a score so yeah, I’m stoked with that start.”
Paige said the 8.5 gave her “so much confidence for the rest of the event”.
“I was super nervous going into the event,” Paige admitted. “I’d only really had five surfs in New Zealand before I left and it wasn’t until my fifth surf where I was like, ‘okay, maybe I will be okay, maybe I can make this happen’.”
“I’d only really had five surfs in New Zealand before I left and it wasn’t until my fifth surf where I was like, ‘okay, maybe I will be okay, maybe I can make this happen’.”
Despite competing together for more than a decade, good friends and traveling roommates Philippa and Paige had never shared the final of an event together, until the 2023 Nias Pro final. As the reigning event winner and holder of the highest women’s numbers of the 2023 event for two days running, Paige seemed primed to find back-to-back wins. South African-born Phillipa had other ideas, claiming her first QS win since 2019.
“That final with Philzy was very disappointing for me,” conceded Paige. “I had an absolute shocker and was very out of rhythm, but it was still cool to be in it with my mate and to see her take the win if I couldn’t. I am gutted I didn’t get any good ones to even make it entertaining for people to watch.”
For 31-year-old Phillipa, the final played out beautifully. She immediately opened with a 7.00, and quickly built to an 8.33, her vertical attack on the opening section of the wave clearly sharpening over the event. Meanwhile, Paige struggled to find a wave that would let her match the 8-point rides that she had found in almost every other heat. The win gives Phillipa a commanding early lead in the Australia/Oceania QS Rankings. Paige sits second with 3900 points.
“It’s been a while since I’ve won an event,” said an emotional Phillipa afterwards. “I’m so happy. To share it with Paige as well out there was super cool, she’s come back from injury. We did it for the older girls. My team and my family know it’s been a long five years with a few things in between and I’m so thankful. Every year I just keep putting the head down, and you know I got a fifth at Krui and I’ve been working so hard both in and out of the water. I’m speechless, but I’m so happy.”
“I said to Paige at the start, ‘Are we going to be super serious or are we going to be able to talk?’ and she was like, ‘Oh, we can talk, but we’ll also be serious,’” Phillipa laughed. “I was waiting for a battle and I kind of built house at the start. I knew what I had to do and unfortunately she had a bit of a shocker out there. She was like ‘What am I doing? I have a 4 and a 3.’ But just in terms of us competing for so long to actually share that moment with one of your best friends. She just pushed me because I know that she can do some really big backhand turns so I just stuck to my guns and it’s such a special moment. I’m so thankful.”
For now Paige is just happy to be back in the water and able to surf.
“I’m now in Bali for the next three weeks making the most of being in warm water and being able to surf again after three months out,” she smiles. “Then I’m home for a few weeks before hopefully the Taiwan QS 5000 event is confirmed in November.”
Paige is unable to qualify through the Challenger Series this year because she has missed too many events with her injury.
“I’m missing the last two in Europe as well to save money for next year and start fresh,” she explains.
Elliot Paerata-Reid also competed at the event finishing 33rd, unable to build on his ninth at the Krui Pro. EPR now sits 14th in the Australia/Oceania QS rankings.
Troy Hirst’s son, Westen, who surfs under the Indonesian flag, finished 13th in Lagundri Bay, improving on his 33rd at the Krui Pro. Westen now sits 22nd on the Asia QS rankings.