Paige Hareb has ended a 10-year World Surf League title drought in historic fashion, lifting the World Team to the first ever Founders' Cup crown.

The Kiwi surfer's first event win at Margaret River in Western Australia in 2008 launched her career, so it was fitting her second would come in her comeback season on the Championship Tour.

"It's been a long time between drinks," Hareb told the Herald after the win.

Though the competition had no impact on CT standings, the five five-strong teams were competing hard at the WSL Surf Ranch in California to bring the title home for their country.

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Hareb's World Team, including captain Jordy Smith, Michel Bourez, Kanoa Igarashi and Bianca Buitendag, proved too strong for Team Brazil and Team USA in the final on Monday, while Team Australia and Team Europe were eliminated in qualifying.

"Our whole team just didn't really expect to win," Hareb admitted. "We were all saying afterwards that we didn't even expect to be in the final."

Heading into the competition as an underdog, the World Team showed they would be competitive through qualifying and secured their spot in the final after a sudden death surf off against Team Australia.

After two rounds of qualification on the Sunday's opening day, the World Team finished in third place - five points off the leaders with plenty of room to improve.

However, they were put under the pump early on Monday when Team Brazil dominated the wave in their final qualification run. Six of Brazil's 10 counting wave scores were posted in their final run, which lifted them into the second qualification spot.

The World Team improved three of their 10 scores in the final run, which proved vital when they finished in a dead heat for third with Team Australia - scoring 78.96

Hareb and Smith were too much for former World Champion Tyler Wright and Matt Wilkinson in the surf-off and earned Team World a shot at the title.

In the final, it was individual disappointment, but overall glee for the Kiwi. She surfed her worst heat in the final, but with Buitendag and Igarashi surfing their best waves, and Bourez continued to impress, they were in with a shot.

It came down to the final heat, where Smith took on Filipe Toledo (Brazil) and Kelly Slater (USA).

In the end, it was a 9.27 ride from Smith that proved to be the difference - clinching the first ever Founders' Cup.

World Surf League Founders' Cup final

1. World Team - 8
2. Team Brazil - 7
3. Team USA - 4

Qualification standings
1. Team USA - 83.06
Kolohe Andino 8.80/7.43
Carissa Moore 8.37 / 9.43
John John Florence 9.80 / 7.43
Lakey Peterson 6.60 / 7.93
Kelly Slater 8.80 / 8.47

2. Team Brazil - 80.47
Filipe Toldeo 10.00 / 9.40
Taina Hinckel 5.67 / 5.10
Adriano de Souza 7.93 / 8.67
Silvana Lima 8.33 / 7.67
Gabriel Medina 9.17 / 8.53

3. World Team - 78.96
Michel Bourez (French Ploynesia) 8.80 / 7.50
Jordy Smith (South Africa) 9.07 / 9.00
Bianca Buitendag (South Africa) 7.60 / 4.93
Paige Hareb (New Zealand) 8.33 / 7.73
Kanoa Igarashi (Japan) 8.83 / 7.17

4. Team Australia - 78.96
Tyler Wright 9.33 / 7.17
Stephanie Gilmore 8.63 / 8.23
Joel Parkinson 5.87 / 7.43
Matt Wilkinson 8.37 / 6.43
Mick Fanning 9.07 / 8.43

5. Team Europe - 72.98
Frederico Morais (Portugal) 7.17 / 6.83
Frankie Harrer (Germany) 5.87 / 3.83
Johanne Defay (France) 7.00 / 7.37
Jeremy Flores (France) 8.47 / 8.77
Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy) 9.57 / 8.10