South Africa finished the 2018 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship ranked No 8 among the record-setting 44 nations that attended the event at Huntington Beach, California. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town teenager Luke Slijpen clinched a bronze medal in the under-18 boys division in the 2018 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship at Huntington Beach in California.

Slijpen became one of only five South Africans in the history of the ISA World Junior Championships to reach an under-18 final.

The others were Warwick Wright (Durban), who won at New Pier in Durban in 2002, Jordy Smith (Durban), who was second in Maresias, Brazil, in 2005, Dylan Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay), who came second in Peru in 2011, and Davey Brand (Kommetjie), who was third in 2011.

Slijpen was one of only two surfers in the under-18 boys division who successfully finished either first or second in the all six main event stream heats.

He won the Round 6 heat to qualify directly for the Grand Final in the division along with heat runner-up and eventual silver medallist Joh Azuchi (Japan).

Durban’s 14-year-old Luke Thompson, who was competing in his first ISA World Junior Championships, also impressed in the tough nine-day event to finish ninth overall while 2018 South African open and under-16 Champion.

Slijpen’s haul of 730 points towards the team total saw South Africa finish the annual event ranked No 8 among the record-setting 44 nations that attended the World Championships at Huntington Beach. A total of 361 athletes participated

This was an improvement of three places over their result in the corresponding event in Japan in 2017.

The result sees South Africa qualify for a place in the SA Aloha Cup event at next year’s ISA World Junior Champs as the unique form of team relay surfing is contested by the top eight nations from the previous event.

In his closing address at the awards ceremony, ISA president Fernando Aguerre, said: “The words that I have right now are ‘thank you’.

“We had an amazing nine days of sun, no wind, and great waves. It was incredible. We had 44 countries represented, almost a quarter of the world, and we had the first edition to feature a gender equality format for boys and girls.”

Cape Times