3rd in the Narrabeen Challenger Series, Gatien Delahaye gets back into the race at CT

The road to the Championship Tour (CT) is, of course, still long. Sown with opponents with short boards and long teeth, uncertain waves and notes that are difficult to swallow. But Gatien Delahaye set a first big milestone in this frantic race, each season, for the world surfing elite by taking 3rd place, last night (Monday to Tuesday, Paris time) in Australia, at the GWM Sydney Surf Pro, second of six stops on the 2024 Challenger Series (CS) circuit.

At the end of the exercise, which will pass through South Africa (Ballito, early July), California (Huntington Beach, early August), Portugal (Ericeira, late September and early October) and Brazil by October (Saquarema, mid-October), the top 10 in the ranking will get their ticket for the CT 2025. After the first two Australian rounds, at Snapper Rocks where they had only passed (one wave taken, 49th) and therefore at North Narrabeen (3rd) where he otherwise shone, here is the 27-year-old Guadeloupean temporarily in the right car, installed in 7th place tied. With, therefore, in the bag, a sure result and a burned joker since, as a reminder, only the four best performances during the six events on the program will be included in the total points of each surfer.

Gatien Delahaye thus returns to the upward trajectory that was his in 2022, the year of his final at the Ballito CS and a quarter to that of Haleiwa (in addition to a second victory at the Anglet QS), which he finished at the gates of the CT (14th). 2023 was supposed to be confirmation season. Alas, it had been, in his own words, that of a “real descent into hell” after he had suffered a serious knee injury at the beginning of March… while he was preparing to compete in the round of the CT in Portugal as a wild card. Forfeited for the first two CS meetings of the season in Australia, the Frenchman found form slowly but surely during the second half of the season, and even reached the final of the last QS of the year in Santa Cruz, in Portugal.


Gatien Delahaye returns in 2024 to the upward trajectory he had in 2022 before being cut down by an injury in 2023.

WSL/Matt Dunbar

Back at North Narrabeen in a “finals day” of a CS for the first time since his final in Ballito, almost two years ago, Gatien Delahaye took the scalp of… Kelly Slater in the quarters! Okay, not the surfing legend, but, his real full name given by his surfing fan father, Taro Kelly Slater Watanabe. At 21 years old, the young and fiery Californian is already living up to his very heavy middle name since, with his style as effective as it is explosive, he is unanimously presented as a great promise in world surfing.

On the small lefts of the day, the duel between the Frenchman and the American was close for a long time, with Delahaye scoring the first significant mark (6.17) for a combination of two backside turns, including the second particularly radical, to which Watanabe responded by a wrinkle in the same vein (6.27). In front of the score, after he found a back up at 4.67, the Guadeloupean made the difference seven minutes from the buzzer when he successfully took off to post the best score (6.87) of the heat , synonymous with success (13.00-10.70).


In the quarters, Gatien Delahaye (photo) took the measure of Kelly Slater, but not the surfing legend, rather, his full name, Taro Kelly Slater Watanabe.

WSL/Matt Dunbar

Delahaye vs “house” judgment?

In the semis, Gatien Delahaye didn’t just have one surfer as an opponent, but an entire beach entirely behind the cause of the local from North Narrabeen, Jordan Lawler. Falling in the quarters of the Hawaiian Eli Hanneman having signed a 9.43, the Australian, wild card of the event because not qualified for the CS circuit this year, was quickly credited with a slightly naughty 7.50 in his duel with the Frenchman, for a sequence of two frontside turns.

A combo time, Delahaye put speed in his surfing and aggression in his backside maneuvers for a ride rewarded with a 6.50 which put him back in the match. Eight minutes from the siren, while the fight raged between the two men, the Guadeloupean cracked a big rotation perfectly received, which resonated with the Brazilian judge (7.50), but not really with of the other four (6.20 for the Japanese judge and 6.30 for one of the two Australian judges). The 6.70 finally awarded to the Frenchman was insufficient to allow him to pass in front of the Australian, victorious by a tiny margin (13.90-13.20) and, excluding the scores, infinitely smaller in view of the series…

Jordan Lawler dismissed Gatien Delahaye in the semi-finals by a tiny margin and, excluding the notes, infinitely smaller given the series...


Jordan Lawler dismissed Gatien Delahaye in the semi-finals by a tiny margin and, excluding the notes, infinitely smaller given the series…

WSL/Matt Dunbar

Jordan Lawler took advantage of the opportunity to then triumph in his domestic CS. For this, he disposed in the final of the Brazilian having survived the other part of the table 100% auriverde from the quarters, the returning Alejo Muniz. At 34 years old and after many injuries, the former member of the elite obviously still has some under his belt and single-handedly eradicated the Pupo siblings from the event, beating Samuel in the quarterfinals (14.43-11, 33) and Miguel in the semis (15.10-12.87).

The task proved too difficult, however, for the Brazilian veteran against Lawler, who quickly took the lead in the final, notably through an air rewarded with a… 7.83. At the end of the heat, Muniz accelerated the backside pace, but the 29-year-old Australian had already locked in his success by compiling his highest total since the start of the competition (final score: 15.76-14.43).

At 34 years old and after many injuries, Alejo Muniz is reborn with ambition.


At 34 years old and after many injuries, Alejo Muniz is reborn with ambition.

WSL/Matt Dunbar

“Winning at home in front of all these familiar faces is so incredible that I am speechless,” stammered Jordi Lawler, definitely in high spirits when he competes in front of his family, he who won the QS 6,000 at Manly in 2019 as a neighbor. Honestly, the last few months have been a roller coaster ride for me. After failing to qualify for CS this year, I thought about quitting, so I’m just glad I persevered. I haven’t had a good result for a while, so this victory makes me feel really good. Qualifying for the CT has been my goal for so long and winning an event of this caliber can really help me achieve it, I just can’t believe it. »

At the end of this second CS of the season, it is Samuel Pupo who takes the reins of the ranking thanks to his excellent Australian campaign (2nd in Snapper, 5th in Narrabeen). The recent relegated CT is ahead of Alejo Muniz (2nd), who has the chance of his life to return to the elite one last time after his two good Aussie results (9th at Snapper, 2nd at Narrabeen). Hero of Snapper where he triumphed, then “zero” at Narrabeen where he exited from the start, the Australian Mikey McDonagh slipped from 1st to 3rd place.

Jordan Lawler triumphs at home.


Jordan Lawler triumphs at home.

WSL/Matt Dunbar

Not qualified for the CS this year, Jordan Lawler had thought about ending his career. He obviously did well to continue...


Not qualified for the CS this year, Jordan Lawler had thought about ending his career. He obviously did well to continue…

WSL/Cait Miers

Jordan Lawler appears directly in 4th place in the ranking, ahead of the Brazilian, ex-member of the elite, Ian Gouveia (5th) and the young Australian George Pittar (6th). Gatien Delahaye therefore follows in 7th place, tied with Miguel Pupo and the Barbadian Josh Burke. Another former Auriverde resident of the CT, Michael Rodrigues (10th) brings up the rear of the provisional top 10.

On the French side, in addition to Delahaye, Joan Duru, although he admitted to having “never found the rhythm with the ocean despite good sensations in free surfing” at Snapper as at Narrabeen, is still in 18th place. Tiago Carrique is 22nd; Charly Quivront, 9th after Snapper, drops to 27th position; Maxime Huscenot is 31st, Marco Mignot 34th, Mihimana Braye 45th, Justin Bécret and Kauli Vaast 55th, Léo-Paul Étienne, wild card at Narrabeen, is 84th. Forfeited for the two Australian events due to an ankle injury, Jorgann Couzinet is not classified.

North Narrabeen hero Jordan Lawler.


North Narrabeen hero Jordan Lawler.

WSL/Cait Miers

Brooks flies away, Nichols makes the double

Isabella Nichols isn’t from North Narrabeen, but she’s right at home in Sydney’s northern suburbs. The Australian from Coolum Beach, Queensland, won the Sydney Surf Pro for the second year in a row!

Like last year in the final, Nichols first dominated her compatriot Sally Fitzgibbons this night, but this time in the semi-finals where she defeated the three-time vice-world champion in the money time (12.63- 10.16). Armed with her powerful backside turns, she then put an end to Erin Brooks’ flawless run so far this year on the CS circuit in the final, which she deprived of a second victory in a row after Snapper Rocks (final score: 15.27-12.43).

Isabella Nichols' powerful backside turns got the better of Sally Fitzgibbons in the semis and Erin Brooks in the final.


Isabella Nichols’ powerful backside turns got the better of Sally Fitzgibbons in the semis and Erin Brooks in the final.

WSL/Matt Dunbar

“Back to back” for Isabella Nichols at Narrabeen!


“Back to back” for Isabella Nichols at Narrabeen!

WSL/Cait Miers

The frenetic 16-year-old Canadian prodigy had previously dazzled her half against the Basque-Spanish Nadia Erostarbe (16.57-6.16) by achieving an incredible frontside air reverse scored 9.57. And she didn’t come far from doing it again, in the final, against Nichols! If the latter, at 26 years old, represents the present of world women’s surfing, Brooks is certainly its very near future…

“I would like to salute Erin,” Isabella Nichols made no mistake after her victory. “She inspires me so much and I feel so lucky to have spent time with her over the past few years. She is so dedicated, so driven and incredibly talented. She’s like a little sister to me and I’ve really enjoyed spending time with her these past few weeks. »

The photo of Erin Brooks' incredible aerial rated 9.57.


The photo of Erin Brooks’ incredible aerial rated 9.57.

WSL/Cait Miers

With her victory at Snapper and her final at Narrabeen, Erin Brooks is at the top of the rankings and is clearly heading towards CT 2025. Isabella Nichols (2nd) is not left out, with her 3rd place at Snapper and her success at Narrabeen.

The two surfers made the gap with their pursuers, who form the provisional top 5 qualifying for the elite: Sally Fitzgibbons is 3rd, Nadia Erostarbe 4th and the Brazilian Luana Silva 5th. Vahine Fierro takes advantage of her quarter-final at Narrabeen to climb to 7th place. Tessa Thyssen is 16th, Maud Le Car 25th.

Third and next CS meeting, from July 1 to 8, in Ballito, South Africa. An event that has been smiling on the French lately, with the finals of Vahine Fierro last year and Gatien Delahaye in 2022.

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