Paul also took on the big boys in the men’s open division – where he finished in fourth place – and won the Best Junior Surfer of the contest.
And, at the weekend, the brave youngster hauled his shortboard to the World Surf League’s (WSL) inaugural Cape Town Pro contest, at Big Bay. The country’s best surfers flocked to the Mother City – with 24 boys and 20 girls taking part in the junior division.
“I made it to the semi-final of the under-18 division at the Cape Town Pro contest. There was also a tag-team section for development surfers, which we won.
“Our team Surf Shack entered two teams into this mini-tournament. Our A-team came first and the B-team finished in second,” said Paul.
Paul’s journey to the SA longboard champs was a smooth one. He earned his spot on the Western Province surf squad following a series of trials at Long Beach, earlier this year.
“At the trials for the WP team I won the under-18 division and came fourth in the men’s open.
“Then, at the SA champs I finished third in the under-18 division and fourth in the men’s open. I also had the opportunity of surfing my biggest wave ever – a six-foot wave – during the second round of the men’s open,” he said.
His sister, Tarryn, also featured at the SA champs and finished fourth in the women’s open division. Paul fondly remembers paddling out on a foam longboard as a five year old with his older brother, Junaid Sampson. He admits his first experience out on the waves was frightening, but he soon found his way.
“My brother introduced me to the sport and gave me a few lessons. It took me a couple of sessions before I could even get to stand on the board.
“But, once I did, he took me out to the back to catch some of the bigger waves,” said Paul.
“I wasn’t used to swimming in the ocean at the time so it was quite scary. My brother gave me some good advice – he told me it’s okay to be scared, but that I needed to be brave and just take on the waves.
“I slowly grew with confidence and continued to use the longboard. And, I entered my first contest when I was 10-years-old.
“My first competition was the Grommet Games which were trials for the WP team. The surfers that were chosen there competed in Port Elizabeth and I finished in fourth place at that contest,” he said.
The young surfer is currently homeschooled and enjoys skateboarding or trying out various other water sports when he’s not surfing.
Following these two big contests, Paul said he will take some time out before strapping on the leg rope for his next competition.