- WSL / Thomas Bennett

Lucy Small is a journalist, academic and surfer from the deep south of Western Australia who has over the the past few years split her time between Sydney, Byron Bay and Southern Africa while competing on the WSL Longboard Tour.

In recent years a new generation young longboard surfers have burst onto the scene and taken center stage on the Women's World Longboard Tour.

World Longboard Champions Honolua Blomfield (2x) and Soleil Errico spring to mind first and foremost. But there are countless peers right on their heels. Don't underestimate their youth -- many are already making serious runs at the next world title shot.

Here are just some of the WSL World Longboard Tour surfers to keep your eyes on.

Kelis Kaleopa'a, 15, Waikiki, Hawaii

At just 15, Kelis Kaleopaa has already won her first Longboard World Tour Event, taking out the Noosa Longboard Open earlier this year. With velvet style, Kelis is part of a cluster of young Hawaiians out of Waikiki currently storming the Longboard World Tour.

"I'd have to say that I got my style from my Mom," Kelis said as she accepted her trophy at Noosa. From a surfing bloodline, Kelis is leading the charge of an exciting young generation of longboarders.

In Noosa, Kelis was the form surfer throughout the event and rightly had the spotlight on her as a leading light when it comes to the future of the women's longboard tour.

Kaleopaa's Top Form Continues
Kelis Kaleopaa secured one of the few excellent-range scores on Day 3 of the Noosa Longboard Open presented by Thomas Surfboards.

Sophia Culhane, 14, Waikiki, Hawaii

Sophia Culhane took down some of the modern legends of the sport, finishing second in her debut on the Longboard World Tour in February this year. With lightning-fast footwork and a line far more mature than her 14 years, Sophia is a dangerous new addition to the tour. Also from Waikiki (she lives across the road from her friend Kelis Kaleopa'a), Sophia was already surfing when most of us were still trying to push around on some kind of tricycle.

"Living in Waikiki is such a dream. To be able to wake up, walk across the road to check the waves is the best thing ever," Sophia told the WSL.

"The Noosa WSL event was extra special because my mom is originally from Australia and I was so fortunate to have family fly in to support me," she said.

"I have to admit I was a little nervous on the beach and I was wondering if I was even ready for WSL, as I only just turned 14. After surfing seven rounds I can honestly say I'm super happy with my results."

With her eye on becoming the youngest World Champion, Sophia Culhane is definitely one to watch.

Sophia Culhane at the 2020 Noosa Longboard Open (Photo by Thomas Bennett/WSL via Getty Images) Sophia Culhane at the 2020 Noosa Longboard Open. - WSL / Dave Gleeson

Emily Lethbridge, 19, Noosa, Australia

Out of longboarding's holy land, Noosa Heads, Emily Lethbridgeburst onto the world stage in 2018, winning the Australasian Longboard Qualifying series when she was just 16. In 2019, she had a quarter-final finish at each event, making her one of the Longboard World Tour's most consistent performers.

She launched her 2020 campaign with a breakout result, making the semi-finals and securing herself as one longboarding's most dangerous youngsters.

"I'm just surfing as much as I can," Emily said when I asked about her competitive goals.

"Obviously I'd love to win an event and a World Title but I'm just making sure I spend a lot of time in the water and keep trying to do better and better," she said.

Emily is smart too, coupling her competitive career with studies in biomedical science, which is a solid career path to help support a realm of surfing which is still very much a grass-roots pursuit.

TAITUNG, TAIWAN - DECEMBER 4: Emily Lethbridge from Australia advances to Round 3 of the 2019 Taiwan Open World Longboarding Championship after winning Heat 2 of Round 2 at Jinzun Harbour on December 4, 2019 in Taitung County, Taiwan (Photo by Matt Dunbar Emily Lethbridge is a consistent competitor. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Tully White, 20, Manly Australia

Tully White surfs with smooth, clinical precision. In the final event of the 2019 Longboard World Tour in Taiwan, Tully's surfing was marked by low, grab rail bottom turns in hurricane strength offshores giving her a third-place finish and jumping her final ranking to seventh in the world.

Growing up in Manly, Australia, Tully is understated but calculating in her approach to competitive surfing:

"At the moment I really want to keep improving my heat totals," she said.

"I have been having some heats where I have felt like I've managed to put it together, but the people who are winning events are getting consistently high heat totals and I think if I can do that then I will keep improving my placings".

Tully is also environmental science student, traversing the Australia's east coast looking for right points in between assignments.

TAITUNG, TAIWAN - DECEMBER 7:  Tully White from Australia advances to the Semi finals of the 2019 Taiwan Open World Longboarding Championship after winning Quarter Final Heat 1 at at Jinzun Harbour on December 7, 2019 in Taitung County, Taiwan (Photo by M Tully White, styling in Taiwan - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Avalon Gall, 16, Laguna Beach, California

Representing California, Laguna's Beach's Avalon Gall qualified for the World Tour at just 14. Now 17, Avalon is all style. Think perched noserides in the pocket, smoothly transitioning to sharp cutbacks executed with control -- all with an air of nonchalance. Avalon made her mark in the back half of 2019, finishing in Taiwan with one of the highest heat totals of the entire event - Avalon looked smooth in the hurricane swell that hammered the Taiwanese coast.

Now, sitting at seventh in the world, for Avalon, the World Tour is still about having fun:

"Obviously winning a World Title would be insane, but for now I find that if I don't take it too seriously, the better I do," she said.

"It's about having fun," she said.

TAITUNG, TAIWAN - DECEMBER 4: Avalon Gall from The United States is eliminated from the 2019 Taiwan Open World Longboarding Championship with a equal 17th after placing 2nd in Heat 3 of Round 2 at Jinzun Harbour on December 4, 2019 in Taitung County, Taiw Avalon Gal at Jinzun Harbour, Taiwan.l - WSL / Matt Dunbar
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