It was business time on Day 3 of the Jeep World Longboard Championships presented by Wanning (WLC) as both Men's and Women's Divisions moved into Round 2 - the first elimination Round. Competitors were delighted when they arrived at Riyue Bay to find pumping 3-to-4 foot waves reeling down the left-hand point.
Heat 1 of Men's Round 2 saw an unexpected appearance from two time World Champion Taylor Jensen. The San Diegan struggled to find his usual dominating form but scraped through the heat with a total of 12.67 (out of a possible 20).
"No heat should be taken lightly even a Round 2 heat against a wildcard," Jensen said. "I feel I have been surfing pretty average this week, I felt a little better in that heat so I just hope I continue to build momentum. It's nice to see some swell here so hopefully it keeps running and I can keep building on my performance."
The biggest upset of the contest so far came in Heat 3 when 18-year-old Peruvian Lucas Garrido Lecca took down American stalwart Tony Silvagni. In his first WLC, Garrido Lecca had nothing to lose displaying incredible poise on the nose and amazing style on rail. Silvagni surfed a solid heat but could not overcome the excellent scores dropped by Garrido Lecca including an 8.67 and 8.50 (out of a possible 10). Garrido Lecca moves into Round 3.
"The waves were so fun today," Garrido Lecca Said. "Being my first year at the WLC I feel like I have nothing to lose. I just went out to have fun and catch lots of waves with no pressure. I would love to surf against Piccolo (Clemente) who is not only my hero but my coach, that would be really interesting."
In one of the windier heats of the Day, Englishman Adam Griffiths had to be more tactical than ever if he was to progress into Round 3. Keeping busy and not waiting on just set waves was the way to go and that is what Griffiths did. Griffiths rode some long hang tens to post a modest heat total of 13.84 and progress into Round 3 to equal his 2015 WLC result.
"That was a really tough heat," Griffiths said. "Round 2 heats are always really nerve-racking, you really want to just make it to Round 3. I knew Augusto (Olinto) would be a tough competitor and luckily I got a couple of good ones and locked in my scores early. I really got lucky in that one."
Another former World Champion who found himself in the unfamiliar position of surfing in elimination Round 2 was Brazilian Phil Rajzman. The powerful natural-footer was on the ropes early with young Aussie Nic Jones posting a solid heat total of 14.67 on his first two waves. Rajzman slowly built momentum to overcome Jones with the biggest heat total of the Round, a 17.87 including a near perfect 9.50.
"Yesterday the waves were a lot smaller and harder for me to perform so I felt a lot more comfortable out there today," Rajzman said. "The wind is super strong so nose riding was tough. I have been working on my classic style over the last few years to meet the new criteria. I really enjoy surfing to the new criteria it is great for longboarding as it is a good mix of powerful and classic style."
After an Injury forced her to sit out the 2015 WLC, two time World Champion Kelia Moniz didn't have the start she would have liked in 2016, finding herself in elimination Round 2. To make things even more difficult she came up against Californian nose-riding sensation Karina Rozunko. The waves didn't stop for the entire encounter with the two trading blows one after the other. The big scores were flowing until the final hooter sounded and it was Moniz who came out victorious in the most exciting match up of the entire event so far.
"That was such an intense heat," Moniz said. "It wasn't your standard heat, Karina and I were having a blast just going wave for wave. Karina is such an amazing surfer and I had so much fun surfing a heat with her. We didn't know if we had high scores but it felt like we were both getting better and better throughout the heat. That was full on, the waves just didn't stop."
The other shock Round 2 entrant was 2014 Women's World champion Chelsea Williams. Williams was unable to progress through Round 1 on top but made up for it in Round 2. The Australian goofy-foot found her world-beating form again posting a solid heat total of 14.67 to progress to Round 3.
"I haven't had to surf in Round 2 for a long time," Williams said. "It was different but a good opportunity to get some extra time in the water with only one other person out and find my bearings. The surf was pretty fun but tricky with that wind. I've been staying across the road here so feel pretty in tune with the set up. I'm looking forward to see what my next heat brings."