A brilliant day of high-performance surfing continued in fun surf upon the shores of Huntington Beach, CA, and was capped off as Taylor Jensen (USA) claimed a dominating victory at the World Surf League (WSL) North America Longboard Championships over Tony Silvagni (USA). Marking his fourth win of the 2015 Men's Longboard Tour season, Jensen was surfing in a league of his own throughout this event - earning the contest's two highest single-wave scores of 9.67 and heat total, 18.27.
Despite the two-time World Champion's impressive run to the Final, conditions proved tricky for the Coronado, Calif. native, but the ocean was on his side in the end.
"It's really cool to have gotten a win here," Jensen said. "It was pretty lucky that the Final just played out to my advantage with conditions going downhill super fast. As the afternoon went on the wind picked up and the tide dropped out so if you got something that ran for more than just a noseride and a closeout then it was a good score. I was just looking for a decent one that didn't look like a closeout - even the waves that Tony took in the beginning looked to be closing but ended up offering a good wave."
After an early lead with a mid-range score of 7.57, Jensen's advantage was quickly stolen by Silvagni's back-to-back scoring waves totaling 14.66. Needing a 7.10, Jensen found a rare, low-tide gem that gave him more than enough - earning an 8.57 to reclaim the lead. With his eyes now set on a third World Title, he is off to the Far East to begin his quest.
"I ended up taking a weird left that stayed open and gave me an opening noseride section to hang-ten in before letting me get another five into a closeout hit that reformed," Jensen said. "China is a completely different wave than anything else we have on our schedule. It's so different you really can't prepare for it unless you get over there early and surf before the event."
Runner-up Tony Silvagni (USA) put up an impressive North America Championships run himself as he turned in multiple excellent-scoring rides throughout the event (8.00 or higher). The Carolina Beach, S. Carolina native is looking forward to the additions of David Arganda (USA) and Kevin Skvarna (USA) as they now prepare for the Jeep World Longboard Championships having earned qualification spots here in Huntington.
"I'm so grateful that the WSL put on this event to really showcase the top talent from around the globe," Silvagni said. "It really gives a chance for some new faces to shine and also some similar faces that have proved themselves in these events to show they still have it. I really went into this one with my heart set on it, came in with good boards, and just felt like it was good overall weekend."
"I think Kevin and David are incredible longboarders with a lot of style which will really suit that wave," Silvagni added. "Moving forward now I'm really looking forward to China and also Taiwan first to keep my feet on the board - I just want to keep the progression going and keep improving."
With his fate in the hands of Jensen and Silvagni advancing into the Semifinals for a direct pass to China, newcomer on the WSL Men's Longboard Tour scene, David Arganda (USA), left nothing in the water for his Quarterfinal heat against Steve McLean (USA). Though McLean is already qualified for China, he did not make it easy for Arganda as the two traded leads early on - though it was Arganda who came out victorious.
"I'm excited with where I ended up," Arganda said. "This is further than I thought I'd make it - just really hyped to do well and make it to China. There's some amazing surfing going on from everyone but Taylor was killing it with some unbelievable surfing. I'm pretty new to the contest scene in terms of money prizes and just excited to go over there and give it my best."
In addition to the 22-year-old Oceanside Longboard Club member, Kevin Skvarna (USA), 17, clinched a qualification spot over Steven Newton (USA) with a Quarterfinals victory and is one of the youngest in the world to be heading to the Jeep World Longboard Championships.
"China was definitely on my mind coming into this event," Skvarna said. "I got to surf against all the guys I've looked up to in surfing since I was 10 with Tony, Steve, and Mike [Stidham] especially. I knew that Taylor needed to win his heat and Tony as well - the scenario went through my head a lot and I was also hoping David would win his heat, which he did. I've surfed a good amount with Steve so I was hoping to get the right wave knowing if he got a good set wave he could've easily taken it."