Saffi Vette wins the Mad Mex Pro QS1000 held at Maroubra, New South Wales at the weekend.
Saffi Vette and Mikey McDonagh, of Australia, have taken top honours at the 2023 Mad Mex Maroubra Pro World Surf League (WSL) QS1000. The waves turned it on for competitors on an action-packed finals day with insane airs and perfect scores.
Saffi came up against Brazilian-born Anne Dos Santos in the Women’s Final. Both competitors were hunting for their maiden WSL Qualifying Series event wins. On the day, Saffi was destined for victory and held on from a last-minute attempt from Anne to claim victory at Maroubra Beach.
“I’m so happy to win my first QS today; it has been a goal of mine for some time now,” Saffi said. “I’ve had such an amazing week here in Maroubra. It felt like home. It’s really special to get the win for my family and me. My dad grew up here, so it’s a special place for our family.”
Saffi said she still couldn’t really believe she’d won her first QS.
“I have worked so hard to experience this moment,” she explains. “I have overcome some tough times in these past couple of years so to be able to get a win is a major turning point for me.”
Her win in Maroubra was especially touching given her late father, Andy, had spent time living and surfing at the Sydney beach.
“Dad used to live across from the drainpipe with a few blokes when he was in his 20s,” she smiles. “I’m pretty sure he sold watermelon on the beach before he eventually got an actual job offer in the city.”
“Dad used to live across from the drainpipe with a few blokes when he was in his 20s. I’m pretty sure he sold watermelon on the beach before he eventually got an actual job offer in the city.”
A few years back Saffi made the tough decision to relocate to live and train on the Gold Coast.
“Being on the Goldy was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Saffi admits. “As hard as it was to leave my mum and brother at home it’s something I had to do if I wanted to improve. I surf with some amazing surfers day in and day out so it keeps you super hungry to strive to be like them. Plus, I have a really cool network of people over here now so I feel way more at home.”
She felt that Aussie was a necessary step for other aspiring Kiwi surfers who felt stuck in a rut at home.
“You just have to do it,” she offers. “It’s gonna be hard and super overwhelming. You lose way more than you win in the sport and it’s something you have to learn to love about the sport. I think that’s what makes the highlights and winnings so special. But I think just committing to something that you want to do is a win in itself. Back yourself, surround yourself with people you want in your corner … and who make you perform at your best and enjoy the journey!”
From here Saffi is focusing on the next two events in Australia.
This result pushes Saffi into 16th place on the Australia/Oceania rankings, but still outside the Top 4 who are guaranteed to progress to the Challenger Series. Paige Hareb skipped the event as she leads the rankings with 11,720 points.
Kehu Butler continued his strong run of form at the Mad Mex Pro to finish fifth, which gave him 500 point for his Australia/Oceania rankings elevating him to 9th place. Kehu is less than 200 points from the cut line, which is the Top 7. Billy Stairmand sits comfortably in fourth in the rankings, the highest Kiwi surfer.