- WSL / Pierre Tostee

DURBAN, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (Friday, June 7, 2024) - The eThekwini Surf Pro, the first stop of the 2024/2025 World Surf League (WSL) Africa Regional Qualifying Series (QS) completed the Opening Rounds of competition in two-to-three foot surf at Durban's iconic New Pier.

Closely Contested Heats Determine First Eliminations

The Opening Rounds of the QS 1,000 were closely contested, with minimal points separating competitors from winning or being eliminated from the competition. Morocco's Redouane Regragui had a particularly good day, advancing to the next round in the LQS before swapping jerseys to compete in the first heat of the QS 1,000. Warmed up and tuned in to the conditions, Regragui managed his energy well to score two mid-range rides secure second place behind Durban's Tide-Lee Ireland.

Top seed Luke Slijpen made a statement when he scored the highest heat total of the day with 14.33 (out of a possible 20) to take the win despite having a bit of a late start in his heat. "I actually started the heat off quite badly, paddling out late and messing up my first two rides," Slijpen reflected. "The conditions were slow so it was a bit risky which waves you decided to go on, but I managed to get into a flow and find my rhythm."

Rising star and Cape Town Surf Pro winner Paul Sampson snagged the win from Durban's Ntokozo Maphumulo in the final minute of their clash, eliminating Thomas Lindthorst and Madagascar's Toky Joe Kennedy Ravelomanantsoa.

"That was insane, the waves look easy to catch but during the heat it's a different story," Sampson said. "I left it for the last minute, but I feel like I'm in the same rhythm as I was at the Cape Town Surf Pro so I'm just going to continue trying to get the two best waves and have fun while doing it. It's a super nice competition with tough competitors so I'll keep on pushing it."

Louise Lepront Louise Lepront - WSL / Pierre Tostee

Scottburgh's Louise Lepront took the lead in the first heat of the Women's Opening Round, putting pressure on her competitors and ran away with the win in the end, with Gabriella Herbst advancing in second.

"It was actually quite fun," Lepront said. "From the beach it looked slow and small, but once I got out there I saw a couple bombs and just smacked it. It's good to be back in Durban, this is the first competition of three in the next month so I'm amped to compete. I come to surf here in Durban almost every week so I feel quite comfortable."

Lepront's younger sister, Leah Lepront held on to win the last heat of the day ahead of Cape Town's Danielle Powis.

The next call will be on Saturday, 8 June at 7:30 AM for a possible 8:30 AM start local time.

The eThekwini Surf Pro Finals Day on Sunday, 9 June 2024 will be streamed live on worldsurfleague.com, the WSL YouTube and WSL free app.

The eThekwini Surf Pro is supported by eThekwini Municipality, Durban Tourism, KwaZulu-Natal Surfing Association and Surfing South Africa.

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