The Taiwan Open Of Surfing Hosted by Taitung County Government commenced day one of competition with a strong international field of athletes taking on building 3-4ft swell for Round 1 of the men's 1-Star ASP Qualifying Series (QS) division that's co-sanctioned by the Asian Surfing Championship (ASC) and Round 1 of the men's Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS).
Indonesia's Ketut Semadhi posted the highest score of the men's QS Round 1 against Taiwan's Ching Yo Fan and Chung Yi Hsu with a 12.85 in improving conditions.
"It was really fun out there and it's a really good wave,â€ Semadhi said. â€œThis is my second time to Taiwan, it's fun, it's new, there's so many breaks and places to surf and you can surf so many spots alone, which is part of the reason why I came over here."
Dai Wako was one of four Japanese competitors to win their heats today, standing out in the conditions on offer. Wako will face strong competition in his Round 2 heat tomorrow from Indonesia's Made Rondi, USA's Keith Saitep and local Ching Yo Fan (TPE).
"It's my first heat so I just wanted to be relaxed, get as many waves as I could, get ready for the second round and that worked out really well for me,â€ Wako said. â€œThis is my first time in Taiwan and it's really nice to be here. I didn't really know what to expect before I got here but it's awesome."
Local surfer Fu Cheng Chang (TPE) managed to steal the lead in Heat 2 with a 6.75. It was a close battle for second place between Hong Kong's Wolf Wertheimer (HKG) and Joe Keogh (HKG) with the pair finishing the heat separated by a mere 0.20. Wertheimer's last minute wave was the difference and saw him advance into Round 2, where he'll face off against Ryota Matsushita (JPN), Kuo Heng Liang (TPE) and Takumi Nakamura (JPN).
"At first it was a bit slow but then I kind of found my rhythm,â€ Wertheimer said. â€œThe conditions were okay, it just depends on what waves you could get, I think the waves are getting better though. I'll be surfing in the Pro Junior later today, so having already been out this morning gives me confidence and I think it's important to just keep catching more waves."
The men's LQS Round 1 kicked off just before midday in tricky conditions as a front moved through the event site, clearing up shortly after with improving and building swell. Two-time ASP World Longboard Champion and a threat in all conditions, Taylor Jensen (USA), is a stalwart of the Taiwan Open of Surfing and managed to take out his heat with a single wave. Jensen, along with Nic Jones (AUS) will have a busy week ahead competing in both the QS and LQS events.
"I'm actually competing in the QS here as well, I did it last year when I came over and I think I came fifth, so I decided why not get a couple of extra surfs in,â€ Jensen said. â€œI guess the two disciplines kind of help each other a bit, the longboarding kind of smoothes out your shortboarding and your shortboarding kind of progresses your longboarding but it's hard going from one to the other, heat by heat. This is my fifth trip to Taiwan and I've done this contest three times. You can always score uncrowded quality waves.â€
Taiwan's Chien Chi Len (TPE) had a solid heat against fellow countrymen Chi An Chen (TPE) and Hou Cheng Li (TPE), making the most of the conditions on offer and displaying some stylish longboarding for the local crowd.
"I enjoyed that heat a lot, the conditions were good and the wave face was quite good for longboarding,â€ Len said. â€œIt's great to have an event like this here in Taiwan and be able to compete in my home country."
Jack Entwiistle (AUS) opted for the clean lefts on offer in his heat, displaying critical manoeuvres that linked together seamlessly, fitting the judges traditional longboarding criteria which scored him an 8.00 and a 6.00, finishing the day with the second highest score of 14.00 (out of 20).
â€œI'm stoked to get some decent scores,â€ Entwistle said. â€œThe wind started to drop off a bit and I managed to get a couple of good lefts. I've been here for a week so have just been getting to know the competition break a bit better and practising, which helps. I was here last year for the Taiwan Open of Surfing which was really fun. There's some good competition here so hopefully I can get a few spots better this year. I love Taiwan, there's such friendly people and I love the culture and food and beautiful landscape, it's a great country."
The 2014 Taiwan Open of Surfing runs from November 11th - 17th