Jordy Smith: the South African's inspiration fueled the World Team | Photo: WSL

The World Team has taken out the inaugural World Surf League (WSL) Founders' Cup of Surfing, in Lemoore, Northern California.

The first-ever, official event at the WSL Surf Ranch, in front of a sellout crowd, was a showcase of incredible surfing and competition as the world's best female and male surfers battled in teams for their home countries.

Highlighting how globally strong the sport of surfing is, it was the combined World Team who took an incredibly tight win ahead of Brazil in second, USA in third, Australia in fourth and Europe in fifth.

World Team was spearheaded by South African pair Jordy Smith (Team Captain) and Bianca Buitendag and superbly backed up by Michel Bourez (Tahiti), Paige Hareb (New Zealand), and Kanoa Igarashi (Japan).

Heading into the last heat of the final, Brazil held the lead, and the World Team needed a big performance from Smith on his last wave as he came up against USA Team Captain Kelly Slater and Filipe Toledo of the Brazil Team.

Under pressure, Smith delivered a phenomenal final ride to earn the required score for the Team's victory at the Founders' Cup of Surfing.

"It's an incredible feeling to win as a team. That was a wild few days, and this just leaves room for bigger and better things to come. I think all week long we've been the underdogs and determination got us through it. Collectively, we just held our confidence up the whole time and supported each other all the way," said Smith.

Bianca Buitendag: she surfed for the World Team in the Founders Cup | Photo: WSL

The stunning World Team's victory saw all five surfers perform amazing feats in the final against the star-studded USA and Brazil teams.

In the Qualifying rounds, the World Team actually finished in equal third place with Australia, which then forced a surf-off to advance.

The sudden-death matchup against Australia saw Hareb clinch the win to qualify her team for the final that eventually opened the door for their first-place result.

"The last two days have been surreal, and it's still sinking in. I feel like, and it's the perfect ending to such a fun week. I am so proud to represent this team alongside Jordy, Bianca, Michel, and Kanoa," expressed Hareb.

Toledo Boosts Brazil

The Brazil Team came second, fractionally ahead of USA and Australia. Captain Gabriel Medina opened their final with an amazing 9.67 ride, the highest score in the final.

Toledo, Silvana Lima, Adriano de Souza, and Taina Hinckel pushed progression to new heights with miraculous tube-rides and imaginative aerial maneuvers.

"The team vibe was great, and everyone was just pushing each other to do better. I'm really happy with how we performed, even though it's disappointing to come up short," added Medina.

Despite coming in second, the Brazil Team scored the event's highest single-wave scores and broke new ground at the Surf Ranch.

Gabriel Medina: he scored the highest score in the final | Photo: WSL

Toledo surfed a Perfect 10 for his team, which also earned him the Best Ride Award for having the top-scoring wave of the contest.

"It's such an honor to be a part of surfing's future and represent Brazil. Gabriel, John John and I talked about how amazing it was to surf as teams," stated Toledo.

"We were tight together, and the team had your back the whole way through supporting you. It was just an incredible experience, and it's something we will always remember."

"This wave is just unbelievable, and I wanted to stay in that barrel as long as I could, just going so fast. It was such a great experience. We had a lot of fun together, and we supported each other the whole way," added Silvana Lima.

Slater's Experience Pays Off

USA Team looked unstoppable after an incredible opening day had them in first place by over five points, but their performance in the finals lacked the flair of the other teams.

Team Captain Slater went extremely close to forcing a surf-off against the World Team on his final wave as he required a 9.27 ride to draw level with World Team.

Slater surfed incredibly on the final ride but missed the score by only 0.2 points.

Kelly Slater: surfing in home turf | Photo: WSL

"I think it was a huge success. Everybody had a good time, from those who didn't know what was going on, to the die-hard surf fans," noted Slater.

John John Florence's desperate attempts to defeat Medina in the final fell short, but the two-time WSL Champion still claimed the event's Best Air Award with his brilliant 9.80 in his second run on Saturday.

Lakey Peterson's consistent surfing helped earn the USA's only final heat win after Carissa Moore fell short to Lima with an 8.77.

But, Moore's overall event experience was one of the team's best weapons and was a clear standout all weekend.

"You just wanted to do well for your team, and we would've loved to win, but it was such a fun experience competing together. Kelly was so close. I think all he needed to do was a turn, and I'm glad he pushed it," said Moore.

Australia Struggles to Adapt

Australia Team earned the fourth-place finish after barely missing qualification in their sudden-death, surf-off against the World Team.

Unfortunately, the experienced team, consisting of Team Captain and six-time world champion champion, Stephanie Gilmore, three-time world champion champion Mick Fanning, two-time world champion champion Tyler Wright, and Matt Wilkinson, fell short under pressure and was eliminated ahead of the finals.

Stephanie Gilmore: getting pitted at Surf Ranch | Photo: WSL

"It was an incredible event, and even though it's a little disappointing to not be in the final, it was cool to be here and see how it all works," Gilmore said.

"This opens the floodgates into a whole new realm of arenas and events in controlled conditions. But, as long as there's a really good balance between this and the ocean, I think the two will complement each other really well."

Europe Disappoints

Earlier this morning, Europe Team's Run 3 did not help them improve the needed scores to receive a finals spot and saw them finish in fifth on the Jeep Leaderboard.

Team Captain Johanne Defay scored two 7-point rides alongside Portugal's Frederico Morais. Jeremy Flores and Leonardo Fioravanti had standout barrel rides but did not have the opportunity to continue into the final.

Frankie Harrer struggled to keep pace but is excited to return to the WSL Surf Ranch to continue to gain more experience.

"I don't feel like I left everything in the water which is frustrating for myself, but everyone was great about cheering each other on and being supportive," concluded Harrer.

WSL Founders' Cup of Surfing 2018 | Final Results

1. World Team
2. Brazil Team
3. USA Team
4. Australia Team
5. Europe Team