Surfest 2018: Merewether’s Jackson Baker makes right move to win opening heat

Jackson Baker on Monday at Surfest. Picture: Paul DanovaroIn-form Jackson Baker overcame soreness and a slow start to winhis heat and progress to round two of the Burton Automotive Pro at Merewether on Monday.

Baker, 21, was a standout for Merewether in their second place finish at the n Boardriders Battle national final at Newcastle on the weekend and backed up in the round of 144 after a one-hour massage on Monday morning.

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“After surfing six heats yesterday and surfing as the power surfer a couple of times, I was buggered after the final. I was done for,” Baker said.

“This morning I felt even worse. I came out here this morning and I literally couldn’t make a turn.I’ve never felt that sore in my life.”

BIG DAY: Jackson Baker after the n Boardriders Battle grand final on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Baker took onGatien Delahaye, Mitch Parkinson andElijah Gates on Monday afternoon in the 6000-point World Surf League qualifying series contest.

He sat deep in the line-up at Merewether for the first half of his 25-minute heat and scored only a 2.67 before paddling south to Pogos to find better waves.

He did just that with nine minutes left, earning a 8.1 to jump to the lead. He backed that up with a 4.73 with four minutes to go to make sure of his place in the top two. He won with 12.83 fromDelahaye (12). Gates (10.47) and Parkinson (6.44) were eliminated.

“There was a brief moment I kind of went into panic mode, but I’ve been in that position so many times and just had to kind of breath and pull myself out of it,” said Baker, who won the 1000-point Tweed Coast and Great Lakes pros leading into Surfest.

“When I made that decision to move up towards Pogos, back where the waves were, I knew one had to break within 10 minutes and I knew there wereonly 10-point totals.

“As soon as I got that eight, I just wanted to stay on my feet and I knew I only needed a three or afour.”

Baker was using a new pink board, in honour of his mum, Tracy, who died from cancer in August 2016. Hegave it a kiss when he came up the beach after his win.

“I got a pink spray on it for my Mum, and I really wanted to ride it here,” he said.

“I gave it a little kiss when I came in. Iwas thanking Mum.I think she gave me that wave, andI was a bit in no-man’s land.”

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