It's that time of year again, the time to pack every possible combination of clothes, wetsuits, boards and head out on a three- month journey across Europe for the annual Qualifying Series leg here. The tradition is to start by heading the furthest north before traveling down the mainland coast and into the ocean, so here we are at beautiful Fistral beach, Cornwall.
Boardmasters packs a number of exciting shows, including skate and BMX demos, a massive music festival and more importantly, the QS and longboard WSL events.
The Boardmasters, Quiksilver Open started with wintery vibes, with showers spoiling everyone's fun at first, but as the local saying goes, "In Cornwall if you don't like the weather, give it an hour." Sure enough the sky cleared and made way for a beautiful afternoon.
Brits Lead the Way
Jobe Harriss scored one of the day's top performances in the British clan and advanced into Round Three with a solid 14 points heat total. Despite losing his main sponsor this season and his traveling budget in the process, Jobe came to Boardmasters ready to do damage and keen to put on a show on home turf.
"I had a freesurf this morning and barely did a turn so I was a bit worried, but luckily now at low tide it's nice and steep and has a few sections!" he said. "Pretty much every U.K tour event ever is at Fistral so I've surfed loads of heats down here and I knew it was going to get better at low. I came fifth here last year, this year's feels like it's got a stronger field but I'm confident and hope for the best."
No Easy Round for Past Finalists
He may have finished runner-up last year but Angelo Bonomelli quickly learned that no one ever gets an easy path to the finals, as he battled through a tense first heat this morning. The Italian did manage to squeeze through in second position behind Liam O'Brien and kept his hopes alive.
"I really struggled to find good waves and honestly didn't expect to make it through this heat," he admitted. "Last year's was my best result ever and I don't know if I'm capable of doing better but I sure am going to try my hardest! I love the vibe here, I'm staying with the Timson family and it's like being home."
A long time QS competitor, Angelo has traveled around the world and found in Newquay plenty of reasons to come back.
"People are super nice and it's a pleasure to come back. I even went to the music festival last year and it was fun, a bit too crowded for me but if you're into music you just have an incredible night there. It's a great way to get more people to the beach and show them competitive surfing, there's also skateboarding and other sports so it's a festival for everyone and a great way to enjoy a sunny summer day."
From Japan to Cornwall
Aussie up-and-comer Lliam Mortensen comes fresh off his first-ever Qualifying Series win at the Murasaki Shonan Open and managed to keep his momentum going into the first day of competition at Fistral. He'll have a tough task when competition resumes, facing an all-British lineup of surfers in Round Three.
"I'm glad to be here for the first time, it looks like an amazing place," Lliam said. "It's tricky to surf a heat when you have no idea what the situation is, but you just kind of have to score your waves yourself and hope you're surfing better than your opponents. Japan was awesome and it's hard to come back in your first event after a win, but I'm going to try and better a few other results to hopefully get into the Top 100."
Long or Short Eddie Will Go
And by Eddie obviously we mean French waterman Edouard Delpero, a two-time winner in the longboard division here at Fistral, who's also surfing the QS event on a shortboard. Edouard is in the mix for a potential second European Longboard Champion title this weekend, but in the meantime has decided to get a head start by warming up in the QS, where he's placed third before.
"I dare say this is classic Fistral conditions at Boardmasters," he said. "It's pretty windy but there's waves out there if you can find the right sections. It's good to come early and do the QS so you can work out the conditions. We have a great battle going again with my brother Antoine and Emilien (Fleury) leading this time, so I look forward to getting the longboard out and fight for the title."
Artists and Newcomers Make Waves in Women's Opening Round
Argentina's Lucia Cosoleto belted the day's highest combined heat total in the women's event with a good 13.17 to make her way into the top seeds' Round Two.
Current World No. 3 on the women's longboard tour Honolua Blomfield came to Fistral for the first time and entered both the long and shortboard events much like Edouard, and won her heat much like him too. Jumping on the occasion to visit a place she was yet to explore, the Hawaiian will be a threat in both fields this week.
"It was my mom's and my dream to come here and I met a friend from here about a month ago in Bali and decided to come," she said. "I came mostly for the longboard but thought I'd enter the QS as well just for fun! I've been here a couple of days and I love it so far, the festival is something really different from what I'm used to."
Lee Ann Curren split her day between the lineup and the stage as she played her music at the Day Sessions before hitting the surf at sunset. She brilliantly managed both, even if an interference call in her heat made us all fear for the worst, but the talented surfer from Biarritz had a single-wave score high enough to make it into second place.
Surfers will reconvene Thursday morning early with a 8:30 a.m call for the women and 10:30 a.m for the men.