HANG TEN: The woman’s longboarding finals between reigning City Surf Series champion, Crystal Hulett, and first-time finalist, Mia Myers, at the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic presented by Quiksilver last Saturday Pic: LOUISE KNOWLES
Another historic first for Amanzi Festival
First longboard finals in Africa
The first longboard qualifying series championship ever to be held in Africa, was held in Port Alfred this weekend at the Royal St Andrews Hotel Port Alfred Classic presented by Quiksilver.
The World Surf League (WSL) event was also the second stop in the City Surf Series this year.
The two ladies in the longboarding final, City Surf Series poster girl, Crystal Hulett, and first-time longboard finalist, Marischka Myers, made history on Saturday afternoon as the first finalists of a longboarding event to be held in Africa.
Earning points in a longboarding event will propel the ladies towards that coveted Longboard Championship (distinct from the World Tour) where the earning potential is exponentially higher than qualifying series events.
In addition, from a total purse of R80 000, the winner of the Port Alfred woman’s longboarding final wins R4000 and the runner-up R2000.
The more points you can win in an event, the more money you can earn. The Port Alfred Classic is a qualifying series (QS) event offering 1000 points to the winner, like the event in East London next week, while an event like Ballito is a QS10 000 event, said Ryan Payne from Accelerate Sports.
In the semi-finals, Myers beat another big name in surfing, Mia Baard while Hulett met Taryn King.
In the finals, Hulett – who is as sweet as the sugar family she belongs to – and who hails from St Francis Bay, was victoriously consolidating her status as the winner of the first City Surf Series last year.
Myers nevertheless did very well competing in her first longboarding final, and in the quarter finals defeating current South African champion Christie Gilmour (not to be confused with world champion, Stephanie Gilmour).
The waves were few and far between and it was a quiet 30 minute final with Hulett establishing her dominance early in the competition and Myers needing to get a 7 point ride to beat her.
Myers had a perfect wave in which she cross-stepped to the nose and back, and dropped her back knee to do a cutback, before riding the wave to the end.
“It’s all a matter of the combination of moves,” said commentator and ladies’ longboarder Tasha Mentasti.
But although she evened the score a little bit, Myers still had a deficit of 5.51 with only 10 minutes remaining.
There was a wave which both riders caught with Hulett on the inside closest to the crest, but with Myers having priority, Hulett had to drop out. But, Myers was unable to capitalize to alter her position.
Hulett who is both a short boarder and a longboarder was surfing on a borrowed board, since having her board stolen the week before.
But she need not have worried about breaking the board, as the waves had died down since the big start to the day.
“Everyone is wondering what the swell is going to do tomorrow, which is finals day for the shortboarders and men’s longboarders,” said Mentasti.
Asked whether there was a romance developing between herself and former WSL number 2 ranked longboarder, Steven Sawyer of Jeffrey’s Bay, Hulett graciously declined to comment.