After a drop in Swell forced a lay-day at Riyue Bay on Day 2, The Jeep World Longboard Championship Presented by Wanning has continued today with the completion of Men's Round 1. The Men were treated to clean 2-foot surf for their opening non-elimination round.
Reigning two-time World Champion Piccolo Clemente surfed his first heat at Riyue Bay since his victorious final in 2015. The Peruvian looked in good form, posting a near excellent heat total of 15.93 (out of a possible 20). The win wasn't an easy one however with young Australian Jack Entwistle nipping at his heels and only missing the top spot by 0.26 points.
"The conditions today are pretty tough with the strong off-shore wind but I'm happy because there are waves," Clemete said. "It's good to be back here, I have a good crew I'm travelling with from home, my boards feel good and I have been training hard in the lead up to the contest. I feel confident and want to take the title back to Peru."
Another Former two-time World Champion to have success in his opening Round Heat was Australian Harley Ingleby. The powerful natural-foot looked in good sync riding long hang-tens and throwing buckets of spray on his big roundhouse cutbacks to post one of the highest heat total of the day, an excellent 16.87.
"That was the best surf I have had in ages," Ingleby said. "It looks so good out there but it is pretty tough. The forecast is looking really good so we should get a bit more energy on the point. The next few days should be good, it will be great too have some big open walls to play with."
The hands-down standout of Round 1 was 18-year-old Californian Kevin Skvarna who posted the 3 highest single wave scores of the event so far in his opening heat; The top two of these being a near perfect 9.67 and a 9.73 for an amazing heat total of 19.40. After coming last in his first World Championship appearance in 2015, the talented natural-footer put his traditional style to the judges and showed that surfing with poise and grace on a single-fin can not only win you heats but see you dominate them.
"I feel like I have a lot more left in me," Skvarna said, "I still feel like I'm not in a total rhythm yet so for sure could surf beyond what I just did. It's really nice to see that you can ride a single-fin the traditional way and get scores. This is the way I surf a longboard and I'm not going to change it for anybody. I'm just having fun."
Having spent a few weeks getting in tune with the long lefts of Riyue Bay, Steven Sawyer of South Africa finally got to put his put his practice into play when he hit the line-up in Heat 5 of Round 1. The silky smooth natural footer was a rank-outsider in his heat as he drew former two-time world title-holder Taylor Jensen. Sawyer never looked in trouble however as he nose rode and switch turned his way to first with a solid 16.27 heat total.
"I'm having the time of my life," Sawyer said. "I've been here for two weeks and have been scoring amazing waves the whole time then to get that heat win, I can barley speak. My focus is a more single fin, soulful traditional longboarding so to drop such high scores with that sort of game is a great feeling."
In 2015, Ben Skinner from the UK had a dream run at Riyue Bay that would see him finish equal 3rd in the world. With that experience and feeling in mind, the guy known as ‘Skindog' has shaped himself the equipment that could take him all the way in 2016. This was proven in Round 1 as he cruised through the tricky conditions and directly into Round 3.
"It's always nice to get recognition from the judges," Skinner said. "When you paddle out for your first heat you never really know what you will get scored for so to get rewarded for your surfing is great. The board I'm riding at the moment suited the waves today really well, I made the board for this wave on days like this and it worked a treat. It was able to lock in when the wave stood up and still stay loose in the flatter sections."