Kingscliff set the scene for a fantastic opening day of the 2018 Australian Longboard Surfing Open, offering up clean peelers for the world's best long boarders to put their style of surfing on display.
Coolangatta based concreter Dane Pioli cemented his spot in the quarterfinals by causing the upset of the day at the Australian Longboard Surfing Open at Kingscliff yesterday. Surfing in the second heat of round two of the Volte Wetsuits Mens LQS, Pioli turned into a giant-killer - eliminating reigning World Longboard Champion Taylor Jensen.
Then late in the day Pioli backed up his massive performance to advance through to the Final by a narrow margin, defeating fellow Australian Declan Wyton. Surfing in challenging chest height waves, Pioli led from the beginning and held off a late challenge by Wyton to win 10.54 to 9.84. In the first quarterfinal Jared Neal proved too strong for Japanese surfer Kai Hamase. Tomorrow's Quarterfinals will see Jack Entwistle take on Brazilian Bage Brayner while Quarterfinal four is between Nic Jones and William Crowe.
Pioli a three-time winner of the Volte Wetsuits Men's Pro Division at the Longboards prepared for three months - surfing the Kingscliff break as much as he could.
"I wasn't surprised, but I was stoked that I surfed to my potential. I have been getting really bad results recently and I've been second guessing myself whether I'm too old, whether I should give it up," he said.
"I've just bought a house and I've got a young family and I've had to take the week off which is a big thing. To get through and to get into the prize money is a big thing but to beat the world champion gives me a confidence booster.
Reigning Women's World Longboard Champion Honolua Blomfield was the first woman through the Semifinals with a one-point win in the round of sixteen, before coming back less than an hour later to take her Quarterfinal against fellow Hawaiian Dana Haman.
The 18-year-old has been coming to this event for three years and this is her best result so far, but has her finger crossed she can go even further. It was her surf craft that got her through in trying conditions today.
"This morning was a bit slow I think I got a bit unlucky with the waves, my waves in my heat weren't very good but I still had fun," she said. "This is my third year, I'm always here for other events, I've had it good and I've had it bad."
Defending champion Natsumi Atoka is out of the women's competition after her see-sawing quarter against Hawaiian Kirra Seale. Natsumi took the lead early but a Seale kept her calm and was able to come back to take victory 12.40 to 11.23.
Former world champion Californian Tory Gilkerson, who has just relocated to Coffs Harbour, was the last surfer of the day through to the finals after taking heat four of the second round.
Gilkerson defeated up and coming surfer Mason Schwemmer, who had three good waves but was not able to match it with her older competitor. Gilkerson winning 11.58 to 10.30.