ULLADULLA'S Russell Bierke continues to show why he is one of the top up and coming surfers on the Big Wave Tour, by excelling at the 2019 Jaws Big Wave Championships.
In 30-to-50 foot (9-15 metre) waves at the famed Pe'ahi surf break on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii, the Ulladulla High School alumnus made a strong start to the World Surf League event.
Bierke, a former Cape Fear winner, managed waves of 8.33 and 3.70 - with the top ride being doubled, resulting in his two-wave score being 20.36.
This saw Bierke, the only Australian in the 24-man field, finish second to Hawaii's Eli Olson (20.71) in heat one of the opening round.
The 22-year-old, who finished sixth at his Big Wave Tour debut in 2018 at Nazaré, then progressed to the semi-finals.
Unfortunately, the Ulladulla Boardrider could only manage one wave, scoring 3.17, seeing him finish with 6.34.
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This score saw him finish fourth, behind Hawaiian trio Kai Lenny (13.17), Makuakai Rothman (11.54) and Ian Walsh (9.64) - to miss out on a spot in the final by one position.
Bierke's semi-final exit matches his result at his first Jaws event in 2018.
In the end, the event was won by Hawaii's Billy Kemper, who successfully defended his 2018 crown and claimed an unprecedented fourth Jaws title of his career - with local Paige Alms winning the women's event.