Phil Rajzman, Harley Ingleby, Piccolo Clemente, and Taylor Jensen each have a pair of men's Longboard Tour (LT) World Titles to their name. And after a historic event in Papua New Guinea, Stop No. 1 on this year's LT, Taylor Jensen has moved out ahead in the race to claim a third.
His win at the Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships gives him a big lead over the rest of the field.
Jensen began his 12th year on the LT this season and wants to celebrate it with a third Title. The Oceanside, California native turned New South Wales, Australia, transplant divides his time between the two continents with his wife, LT tour surfer Nava Young, and their three-and-half year-old daughter. The WSL sat down with 34-year-old recent PNG Champion after his groundbreaking win and now aims to join the likes of 3x World Champions -- Hawaiian legend Rusty Keaulana and fellow American World Champ Colin McPhillips.
WSL: Looking back at your 12 years of competing, what's been the most rewarding?
Taylor Jensen: We are incredibly fortunate to be able to travel the world surfing and make a living out of it. I get caught up on it all the time, it's insane that a career like that can even exist. To be one of the .01 percent of surfers that get to do it is nothing short of amazing. I've never taken it for granted and I never will. I didn't enjoy school all that much so the world literally became my classroom, I've seen so many different cultures and had thousands of unique experiences that I will never forget.
WSL: Is Papua New Guinea right up at the top of those experiences?
This has been an amazing experience from start to finish and [finals day] was unlike anything I've ever seen -- it's almost enough to leave someone speechless. I was a little worried coming here just because you hear things, but witnessing it in person was just proof you can't believe everything you hear.
WSL: What does this win do for your goal of earning a third Title?
I've put myself in the best position possible for a third World Title with a win in PNG and that would be an incredible honor. Only a few people have won three or more so I'd love to put my name on that list. This year is going to be a good one with the multi-event series and I know Taiwan so well. I've won there a few times so I know where to stay, where to eat, and I'll have my wife and daughter there so nothing but good distractions around me.
I've put myself in the best possible position for a third World Title. Only a few people have won three or more so I'd love to put my name on that list. I wouldn't be where I am without Nava...she's been so supportive of my dreams.
WSL: How important his her support behind the scenes to what we see in unfold in the water?
I wouldn't be where I am without Nava [Young]. She's been so supportive of my dreams and is there when I need her most. This trip [in PNG] has actually been really great, we miss our daughter and it feels like there's something missing at all times, but we've gotten to surf together and just really enjoy this. I'd have to say that was a big factor in winning this event.
WSL: What are some challenges you see this year in the new format and what are your plans for the year before the last event?
Getting two events in the race this year and being completely different waves will give us a really unique World Champion. Taiwan offers us some good rights and lefts, and can also get big there so I'm really looking forward to that.
I'll do some of the LQS events this year and stay busy to keep up the competitiveness, but I'm stoked to just enjoy the next months with my family. We'll get to go to California in August like we do each year and I'm right down the street from my parents so that makes it even better. Nava's parents will actually be coming to visit as well so to have the whole family in one place is something we're super excited for.
WSL: What made winning your second title that much sweeter? What's renewed your vigor to continue pushing for a third?
I was fortunate enough to get my two World Titles back to back. I'm happy with two, that was a goal to prove to myself that I could win more than one and it wasn't just a fluke. To do it in consecutive years was extra special, but now it's been a couple years without one. That runner-up in 2013 was a tough pill to swallow -- I definitely want number three now.