In a matter of minutes, the ocean began sending waves his way and by the final horn he had the rest of the field needing a combination of scores to catch him.
"I guess the ocean must have been paying me back," said Joske, minutes after he was carried from the ocean’s edge upon the shoulders of his Australian teammates. "I picked up a bit of rubbish off the beach the other day, so maybe China’s giving me a bit of respect and payback, thanks Hainan, xie-xie China."
With Joske’s win and teammate Nic Muscroft’s fourth-place finish, Team Australia managed to out-point Team France for the inaugural ISA China Cup title and the team gold medal.
With the long, lefthand wave at Riyue Bay continuing to produce rippable waves from Day 1 through the final, competitors were fully acclimated and that translated to some of the finest surfing of the four-day event.
Sofia Mulanovich, a former ASP World Champ and the 2004 ISA World Surfing Games gold medalist, was in rhythm with the waves and her board from the beginning of the day.
In her early heat she recorded the highest single wave score (9.50) and total heat score (18.17) of the Open Women in route to qualifying for the final. In the 40-minute final, she locked down the win behind her powerful, multi-faceted approach for a heat score of 15.27.
"I’m really, really happy. The waves are super fun, I’ve been hanging with my team, it’s just been an amazing week," said Mulanovich, after being hoisted to the podium by her teammates. "Plus, I haven’t really won a contest like this in a while; I got a little sensitive and almost started crying."
After the heat, Joske’s enthusiasm was intoxicating. His smile from beneath his koubra (the traditional hat the Australians wear at team events) wasn’t budging. It’d been quite a while since his last contest victory, at any level.
"I was stoked when I got the call up for this event because no way in the world did I ever think I’d come to China, so I was pretty pumped to actually check out the place and see what it was all about," he said. "To get a win in the inaugural event, an historical event – I’m stoked."
China has entered the world of surfing and surfers welcome China to the magnific universe of wave riding.
Open Women Final
Gold – Sofia Mulanovich (PER) – 15.27
Silver – Sarah Baum (RSA) – 13.70
Bronze – Diana de Souza (BRA) – 12.60
Copper – Justine Dupont (FRA) – 10.76
Open Men Final
Gold – Heath Joske (AUS) – 17.50
Silver – Cory Lopez (USA) – 12.33
Bronze – Marc Lacomare (FRA) – 12.30
Copper – Nic Muscroft (AUS) – 4.13
Final ISA China Cup Team Rankings
1. Australia – 12,930
2. France – 11,658
3. USA – 10,690
4. Peru – 10,028
5. Brazil – 9,760
6. South Africa – 8,880
7. Argentina – 7,690
8. Venezuela – 7,460