History was made on Sunday when Brisa Hennessy from Hawaii ripped her way to the top of the podium of the first ever World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) event to take centre stage over the men’s division of the same contest.
And there was also joy for the South Africans as Cape Town’s Tarryn King won the women’s longboarding final.
Hennessy surfed exceptionally well throughout the WSL QS3000 rated Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing, presented by Hurley, with not only three of the top five women’s wave scores for the week coming from her but also the highest wave score of the entire contest for both men and women; a near perfect 9.83 surfed in the first round of the competition.
The final between Hennessy and Dominic Barona of Equador held at Pollock Beach, Nelson Mandela Bay, got off to a slow start with a long lull on the high tide only producing the first wave with scoring potential five minutes into the heat.
Hennessy drew first blood with a strong two-turn combo ride that earned her an opening score of 6.67. She quickly backed this up with a committed three-turn ride, adding 7.17 to her tally and extending her lead over Barona, who was yet to find a wave, to 13.84 and putting the Ecuadorian into an early combination situation.
Barona’s first wave came 12 minutes into the heat. On her backhand, Barona landed a top turn, followed by a bottom turn and a strong vertical snap that saw her go vertical to earn 5.83 points which pulled her out of the combination situation.
Halfway through the 30-minute final heat Hennessy was firmly in the driver’s seat with Barona requiring 8.01 to take the lead. This requirement was soon stretched to 9.51 when Hennessy dropped an 8.17 on her third wave.
With only eight minutes on the clock, Hennessy’s fourth scoring wave came in at 7.20, escalating her heat total up to 15.37.
Hunting for a massive 9.54 to overtake her Hawaiian opponent, Barona finally found her second scoring wave with only two minutes on the clock. However, as she was unable to find any sort of rhythm, Barona only managed to add 0.67 to her heat score and the writing was on the wall as time quickly ran out and Neptune was not gifting the two surfers any more bombs to score on.
‘It has been a really challenging year and the QS is hard and I’m just over the moon to get a win here. I have not been in a final in a while and it was just amazing to surf against Dominic (Barona). She is an incredible surfer and human being and I feel very honored,’ said an elated but humble Hennessy as she came out of the surf.
The WSL QS3000 rated Volkswagen SA Open of Surfing, presented by Hurley is the biggest women’s QS event on the African continent and only one of five on the planet and Hennessy’s win catapulted her into the top ten of the women’s WSL QS ranking while also opening a door for her to possibly realise her dream of making it onto the 2019 Championship Tour.
Meanwhile, King pulled off a commanding victory in the WSL LQS1000 rated women’s longboarding final, ending the heat on 13.00, nearly five points higher than runner-up Michelle van Kempen from Nelson Mandela Bay.
King, a two-time runner-up in events during the 2018 City Surf Series was hungry for the win and scored 6.67 points to take an early lead with a right-hand wave that she worked down the line all the way to the beach that earned her 6.67.
The high tide conditions were difficult for the women on those nine-foot boards and King opted to sit away from the pack in the second half of the heat. This tactical move paid off as she found a 3.27 point ride to drop the 1.27 point ride from her top two scores and extend her lead.
A final left-hand wave on the buzzer offered good scoring opportunity and King managed to fit in a hang-five and a few other manouevres that earned her 6.33 and a solid win over Van Kempen (Nelson Mandela Bay), Crystal Hulett (St. Francis Bay) and Shannon Hughes (USA).
‘It was a good final; surprisingly it was really slow out there. There was one set that came through while we were out there and I managed to get on one wave and just hang on until the inside to get a good score. I then needed a back-up score which took me a while but I managed to get it,’ said King who was stoked with the longboarding events brought to South African shores by the City Surf Series.
Having surfed consistently well over the course of the series, Hulett held on to the zebra-striped Skull Candy ratings leader’s jersey in the women’s longboarding competition.
This was her second striped jersey win in two years as she also took the overall win in the shortboard section in 2017.