Williams claims crown
By BOB ANTHONY
CHELSEA Williams may be short in stature but on a longboard, the Tweed Heads surfer is big on talent and she has an Australian title to prove it.
Williams clinched her third Australian Open title at Port Macquarie on Saturday in clean 1 to 1? metre waves.
In the lead-up to the final the diminutive Williams had emerged as the form surfer of the week-long event, showing her skill in the smaller inconsistent conditions during the early heats.
Improved conditions on Saturday provided Williams with exactly what she needed to show why she is the best female longboarder in Australia.
"When I saw the waves for the finals I knew the conditions would suit me," Williams said yesterday.
"I wasn't nervous going into the break even though I was up against the local favourite in Cath Perry.
"She doesn't surf North Haven Beach that much."
Even so, Williams was forced to come from behind after Perry opened up an early lead.
"My first wave was a low scoring one but as the 25 minute final went on I was able to build some good scores and put pressure on the other surfers," Williams said.
"It's probably been the best I have surfed in a final and I was really pleased to be able to show what I can do on a board in the right conditions."
Perry finished second ahead of West Australian Georgia Young and Sunshine Coast teenager Monique Keane respectively.
Williams, who last won the Australian title in 2005 at Maroochydore, can now officially lay claim to being the No.1 woman on the Australian longboarding scene.
The national title completes a dominant year for WIlliams that included victories in eight of the nine major events staged in 2007.
Williams is now looking forward to heading to Hawaii next week for a holiday but she will be taking her boards along as well.
"I just want to try and surf as many different spots as I can and build on my experience in preparation for next season," Williams said.
Her first assignment in 2008 will be the Roxy event at Phillip Island in January which has been upgraded to a three-star rating.
Williams will line up as reigning champion but will have her work cut out for her as she looks to successfully defend her title with world longboard champion Jennifer Smith from California set to compete.
The top two placegetters in the Phillip Island event will receive a top round seed into the world championships in France in July.
Coffs Harbour's Harley Ingelby claimed the men's open title at the Australian Championships, edging out three-time Australian and defending champion Josh Constable from Noosa. The junior men's division provided the biggest surprise of the event with favourite Bryce Young forced to settle for third behind Sydneysider Dan McComb and Victorian Adam Lynch respectively.