Competitors revelled in perfect, offshore 4-6ft conditions for the Finals day of the Taiwan Open Of Surfing Hosted by Taitung County Government. Big scores were posted across all divisions for no-holds-barred surfing which impressed the judges and spectators alike, crowning Jordan Lawler (AUS) champion in the men's ASP 1-star Qualifying Series (QS) division, Taylor Jensen (USA) champion in the men's ASP Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) division and Chelsea Williams (AUS) champion in the women's ASP LQS division.
The day commenced with some exciting exchanges in the men's QS Semifinals with Lawler out-muscling Japan's Ryota Matsushita with big, powerful carves and vertical snaps to progress to the Final against Jensen, whose wave selection in the Semifinals was second-to-none, leaving his competitor Jackson Carey (AUS) unable to answer back.
Jensen entered the Final having already surfed three times, scoring a 6.00 (out of a possible 10) and a 3.25 for a combined total of 9.25 (out of a possible 20). Lawler blew up on a long left-hander with his forehand attack, throwing fins and getting vertical on a number of snaps, which was rewarded with a 9.25 and backed up with an 8.00 for his powerful backhand surfing, in the process sealing his first ever ASP QS victory.
"I feel so good!â€ Lawler said. â€œThe waves are just firing, it's so good here with all the local crew and everyone here watching, it's incredible. I didn't really want to sit and wait for a really good one, I just wanted to post some scores and get a feel for it. I got a sneaky little left that just ran all the way so I got lucky. It's crazy doing so well in my first competition I've done for a while, it's a bit of a reminder for me to do the QS next year so I'm just excited for that and this is a perfect start."
The men's LQS Semifinals saw a perfect 10 awarded in flawless conditions to Taylor Jensen for impeccable wave selection, long nose-rides, big snaps and carving turns, utilising every moment on the wave. Opening the heat with a hang-ten and big carving turns for what became his back-up score, Jensen's combined total of 19.35 was too much for Jack Entwistle (AUS) to answer to. Semifinal 2 was a heated exchange between Justin Redman (AUS) and Nic Jones (AUS) with Redman's powerful and progressive style of longboarding earning him the points to progress into the Final, as well as the title of ASP Australasia's Men's Longboard Champion and a guaranteed spot into next year's ASP World Longboard Championships.
Redman's power surfing continued into the Final, where he displayed huge rail carves and long nose-rides and even attempted an aerial manoeuvre. However he was no match for Jensen's stylish surfing in the traditional longboard style, who impressed the judges to score a 9.65 with long linking carves and nose-rides, backhand re-entries and big bottom turns, backed up with a 7.00 for a combined total of 16.65, sending him home with the winners cheque.
"It feels really good to win,â€ Jensen said. â€œIt was a bit harder out there for the Final when the wind picked up but the Semifinal was as good as I've seen it here. I've been coming here for four year's and that's the best conditions I've ever surfed here, just non-stop waves, it was pretty much a perfect heat. My best waves were the ones that side wedged, with a really long wall, so as long as you raced that first little bit you were lined up perfectly for the rest of the wave. I was lucky that I figured that out pretty early on in the event and just kept it to myself."
In the women's LQS Semifinals, Chelsea Williams (AUS) and Hiroka Yoshikawa (JPN) went wave for wave, with Williams' long linking manoeuvres, big carves and long nose rides giving her the edge to progress to the Final with a combined score of 12.95 over Yoshikawa's 10.40. In the other Semifinal, Nava Young's stylish surfing with big bottom turns and carves moved her into the Final against Williams with a combined total of 13.00 against Taiwan's highest placed surfer of the event, Shiu Yon Chang.
"I feel so lucky to have made the Semifinals,â€ Chang said. â€œThe waves were great out there but I wasn't good enough today to win. This event is very important for me, I get the chance to see how the other international competitors surf and learn from them. I'm really happy to be able to compete here in Taiwan."
The women's LQS Final saw Nava Young in the lead for almost the entire thirty minutes, however with under two minutes left on the clock Williams made a last ditch attempt to steal the lead, successfully scoring a 6.40 to back up her 6.50, overtaking Young by just 0.65 and leaving her with no time to answer back.
"I'm stoked, it was hard work out there and a lot of paddling but I'm so happy to have won," Williams said. "I knew I could get the score, I just needed the right kind of wave, so it was great that I managed to get that at the end. This gives me a bit of confidence leading into the upcoming GoPro World Longboard Championships China, presented by Wanning and I've picked up on a few things that I can work on when I get home so it's definitely been a good event."