Rachael Tilly (USA) has been crowned the 2015 Jeep World Longboard champion in pumping 4-foot waves at Riyue Bay Wanning, Hainan, China. Tilly came up against Crystal Dzigas (HAW) in the Final where the two went wave for wave in an exciting display of traditional and stylish longboarding.
"I am over the moon right now," Tilly said. "Ever since I was six it's been a goal of mine to be the youngest World Champion and now I've done it. I can't believe it's even real. I have been to the contest twice before and not made many heats, but after winning the North American title I had more confidence this year and I guess it paid off."
After two straight years of finishing in last place, Tilly, who has taken time off of school to attend this event, has gone home with the ultimate prize, the title of women's World Longboard champion.
"Crystal has been surfing so well this whole event so I knew it would be no easy task. I've been working on my boards and training with my dad as my coach and have been really focused on improving my surfing over this year so I'm so glad it's all paid off. This still feels like I'm dreaming."
Dzigas had her best finish at the World Championships after competing at the event for the last five year's straight. She will now be seeded straight into next year's event and goes home the No. 2 women's Longboarder in the world.
"I'm happy I made it to the Final," Dzigas said. "It's definitely the best result of my career which is awesome. It's hard to get that close and not take a win. It was definitely slower for waves in that heat than during my Semi, but that's surfing I guess. I'm stoked."
On her way to the Final, Dzigas took down good friend and reigning World Longboard champion Chelsea Williams (AUS) who struggled to find a rhythm after Dzigas posted two excellent scores early in their Semifinal.
"I'm obviously disappointed," Williams said. "But it's bittersweet. I can't be too upset because Crystal is in the Final and I'm so happy for her."
In the biggest upset of this year's men's event young Hawaiian Nelson III Ahina (HAW) took down reigning champion Harley Ingleby (AUS) in what was a nail-biting affair. Ingleby took the lead early locking in a heat total of 16.10. Ahina then dropped an excellent single-wave score of 9.07 as well as a 7.93. Ingleby, needing a score, took off on a wave in the final minute but was unable to attain accumulate the points he needed, gifting Ahina the biggest heat win of his career.
"I look up to Harley and those guys so much," Ahina said. "Being here and watching all of these guys surf and surfing against them is amazing. Before that heat was the most nerves I have ever felt in my life, then once I was out there I just had to control my mindset, which is my biggest flaw, especially knowing I had the champ in my heat. Once I got some scores I could relax a bit more and just surf the way I wanted."