WALMER surfer Crystal Hulett beat some of the best competitors in the country last month to take top honours in the U15 division of the Hurley SA Junior Champs in Jeffreys Bay.
In a closely contested final Crystal, 14, put in a resilient effort to take the title from Springbok surfer and defending champion Chanelle Botha (KZN) who had to settle for second place.
The Woodridge pupil came fourth in most of her heats and only managed to catch a single wave in the semifinal. This did not help her campaign as the judges take the scores from the top two waves in a heat.
Crystal eventually caught a beauty and made the most of it. It earned her the highest points of the heat which took her through to the final.
“I was definitely in shock at the time (after winning the title) because I knew who I was competing against,” Crystal said.
The Eastern Province dominated the championships, clinching the coveted Freedom Cup team trophy for the first time in the 16 year history of the event. The team also earned three of the six South African individual titles and three of the five special awards on offer, including the Skullcandy Team Spirit award.
“What was special was the team support of EP and the whole vibe at event,” said Crystal, who credited her success to the motivation she received from friends and family.
The EP surfer began riding waves at the age of six and entered her first competition, which she won, at the age of 11. She earned her EP colours the following year.
“My dad surfs and I grew up watching him from the rocks. My first competition inspired me to do more competitions and it boosted my enthusiasm.”
Crystal, who is coached by Graham Hines and Shannon Enslie, won the U13 SA Grommets Champs last year and hopes to make the national team next year and compete at an international level.
She is in the water four times a week and on weekends she has about four training sessions, which works out to nine hours.
Crystal, whose aunt and cousins have all received Springbok colours in the sport, said she tries to be an all-rounder and also plays hockey, water polo and athletics. But surfing is her biggest passion.
“You feel so close to God. Surfing has something different to other sports. Waves are so powerful yet so harmless,” she said.
Another Walmer surfer Ashleigh Vaughan also did her province proud and was placed second in the U13 category.
Most recently, Crystal took part in the Women’s Pro event held in Jeffreys Bay in the U16 division and came second.