10 June, 2024 10 June, 2024
eThekwini Surf Pro

Champs Crowned at eThekwini Surf Pro

Louise Lepront, Luke Thompson, Crystal Hulett and Sam Christianson won the inaugural eThekwini Surf Pro, a World Surf League (WSL) Africa Regional Qualifying Series (QS) 1,000 and Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) 1,000 respectively. The morning started with clean, small waves before the onshore winds picked up in the afternoon to create testing conditions for all competitors.

Pictured: Louise Lepront (RSA), winner of the eThekwini Surf Pro QS 1,000. Credit: © WSL / Tostee

Louise Lepront and Luke Thompson Win QS 1,000, Take Rankings Top Spot

The women’s QS 1,000 Final saw top seed Sarah Scott from Cape Town come up against Scottburgh’s Louise Lepront, and it was a battle in the tough conditions to find waves that could offer a decent scoring potential.

Lepront stayed busy and somehow picked the best waves that linked right through to the shore, to fit in multiple turns and ride out successfully. Since her third place finish at the World Junior Championships in El Salvador, Lepront’s surfing is packed with more confidence and maturity. 

eThekwini Surf Pro

DURBAN, KWA-ZULU NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 9: (L to R) Ethekwini Surf Pro finalists Luke Slijpen (runner up QS), Luke Thompson (winner QS), Louise Lepront (winner QS), Tarryn King (runner up LQS), Steven Sawyer (runner up LQS), Christy Hulett (winner LQS), Sam Christianson (winner LQS) at the presentation of the Ethekwini Surf Pro on June 9, 2024 at Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (Photo by Pierre Tostee/World Surf League)

“I’ve been on a go lately, I’m super stoked to win this event!” Lepront said. “Coming back from El Salvador, this win back home means so much to me. I didn’t really have a strategy out there. You just have to go for any wave that has a lip and just hope it goes all the way to the shore. I want to thank my parents, brother, sister and QJ, my coach, who really put in a lot of work over the past three days.”

eThekwini Surf Pro

DURBAN, KWAZULU-NATAL, SOUTH AFRICA – JUNE 9: Luke Thompson of South Africa surfs in Heat 4 of the Quarterfinals at the eThekwini Surf Pro on June 9, 2024 at Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. (Photo by Nicolette Tostee/World Surf League)

Pictured: Luke Thompson (RSA), winner of the eThekwini Surf Pro QS 1,000. Credit: © WSL / Tostee

Former Durban local Luke Thompson seemed to have the upper hand over good friend Luke Slijpen in the men’s QS 1,000 Final. Thompson found the better waves that allowed him more opportunities to crank out turns and find sections to boost to the air for an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10), with a good backup score of 7.17 for a total of 15.17 (out of a possible 20). 

Slijpen tried his best to catch up to Thompson, earning his best waves under priority. It wasn’t enough though, and Thompson walked away with the win.

“It feels so amazing to get this win,” Thompson said. “To be in the final with my best friend Luke Slijpen, we live together, we travel together, so to share this with him was just the cherry on top. I feel like I didn’t get an opportunity in this event to really open up, so I wanted to go out there and really push myself to do my best surfing.”

Pictured: Crystal Hulett (RSA) won the eThekwini Surf Pro LQS 1,000. Credit: © WSL / Tostee

Crystal Hulett and Sam Christianson Win LQS 1,000, Qualify For World Longboard Tour

The women’s LQS 1,000 Final saw two of South Africa’s most experienced longboarders, Tarryn King and Crystal Hulett, go toe-to-toe in Durban. Hulett jumped into the lead by reading the waves really well, finding the opportunities in between the bumps to cross-step and get to the nose of her board.

King seemed frustrated in the tricky conditions, waiting for better waves to roll through and finally found one with five minutes left on the clock. King was on one of the bigger waves of the heat, walking across the board before committing to a closeout turn for a 6.83, but it was a little too late. Hulett stayed busy and improved on her backup score to secure the win with a total of 10.40.

“I just have so much stoke, so much happiness right now,” Hulett reacted. “I’m just grateful for everyone’s support and the presence of the community here. It’s been the best event and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Taking out the win is just number one!”

“It wasn’t easy out there, just so much white water moving around,” Hulett reflected. “I tried to look for the sets, but then I decided to just stay busy, looking for anything where I could get the work done.”

With this win, Hulett qualified for the World Longboard Tour (WLT) that kicks off next month in Australia. 

“It’s such an honour, I’m stoked. All these women are amazing and I’m grateful to compete against them. Women’s longboarding is growing and I’m so happy to be part of it.”

Pictured: Sam Christianson (RSA) won the eThekwini Surf Pro LQS 1,000. Credit: © WSL / Tostee

Steven Sawyer and Sam Christianson both scored excellent heats in the Semifinals, dispatching Guy Campbell and Oliver Packham to meet up in the Final of the men’s LQS 1,000. The conditions deteriorated rapidly from the fun, clean waves in the morning, but Sawyer and Christianson found the diamonds in the rough. 

Sawyer locked in the first excellent score for smooth and stylish footwork, making his way to the nose and completing a few sharp turns in the foam to get an 8.00 ride. Christianson responded with his own excellent ride, cross-stepping and hanging five before switching his stance to manage the bumps on the closeout section.

The Durban local didn’t back down and Christianson found a great wave for one of the longest nose rides of the day, stylishly showing off his footwork for an 8.33, putting pressure on Sawyer. The former World Longboard Champion was up and riding before the buzzer sounded and scored an 8.53, but Christianson was also on a wave at the back, scoring another 8.33 to snatch the win in his hometown.

“It was hardcore, I couldn’t hear anything out there and it was just onshore waves, but I still had fun,” Christianson said. “It was good to have two-person heats so no hustling out there, and it was great to surf against Stevie.”

After winning his semifinal heat, Christianson received the news that he qualified for the 2024 World Longboard Tour. “I’m blown away, really,” Christianson reacted. “I’m excited about the WLT, there are still a few things that need to fall in place but maybe this is the sign. The support from family and friends have been overwhelming, I was quite emotional. It really means the world.” Christianson joins Sawyer on the WLT who qualified after making the cut in 2023.

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