Taylor Jensen and Tully White win the James Bros Longboard Classic

Caption: Three times WSL LQS World Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) Pic: Paul Danovaro

REIGNING world champion Taylor Jensen (USA) and Aussie Tully White have been crowned the male and female champions at the James Bros Longboard Classic at Merewether beach in Newcastle.

Contestants were greeted by waves in the 2-foot range breaking through Merewether rocks. Light onshore winds saw variable conditions as the tide ran out throughout the day.

The one day World Surf League Longboard Qualifying Series 1000 event, held as part of the 2018 Surfest, saw 24 male and 8 female surfers vying for the honour of claiming the inaugural James Bros contest.

Three-time (2011, 2012, 2017) world champion Jensen’s first-ever surf at Merewether saw him collect the highest score in his opening round (16.00). He then backed that up with the highest score in the semi-finals (16.00), but waited for the final before racking up the day’s highest heat score (16.60) when he defeated Australian dual world champion Harley Ingleby (12.40). Jensen had the three top scores for the entire contest.

Thirty-three-year old Jensen, who lives at Angourie for half the year and Oceanside California for the other six months, said conditions improved during the morning but deteriorated in the final. So how did he rack up the biggest score of the day in the final?

“I lucked into the first one (8.50) and almost got hung up on the top, but it ran really nicely. I realised my backup score (8.10) was not as good.

“It wasn’t the sets that were the best, you had to pick the waves that hit the bank the best as they seemed to offer the higher scoring chances.

“It was super consistent and fun. We had waves all day,” Jensen said.

He took home $US2000 for his win.

Tully White from Allambie Heights in NSW (10.55) defeated Noosaville’s (QLD) Emily Lethbridge (6.85) in the women’s final.

Eighteen-year-old White, the reigning Australian open women’s national longboard champion, claimed her first WSL event title today.

The goofy-foot, who lists the points at Noosa and Byron as her favourite surf breaks, is taking a gap year in 2018 after completing her HSC last year. She’ll concentrate on her surfing before commencing a university degree in marine biology in 2019.

White said she enjoyed the conditions today that made her think closely about her surfing, tactics and wave selection, but she still had a ball.

“It was fun because it’s a right which I like. It reminded me of one of the waves at home but out in the final it was definitely a bit slow and it was hard to try and find the ones that would take us all the way through.

“I was stoked to get a set,” she said of the wave that set up her victory today.

White pocketed $US1000 for taking out the women’s competition.

The next WSL LQS event for women is the Cancer Institute NSW Women’s Pro, while the next WSL LQS for men is the Volte Wetsuits Men’s Pro.

Both are scheduled for Kingscliff NSW from 28 February – 4 March 2018.