This year is the first year since 2011 that will see the men's and women's World Longboard Champions crowned from more than one event. The addition of a second event to the LCT is a sign of recognition to the sport and the surfers that lead it.
In March this year, the first of the two events, the Kumul PNG LCT was taken out by 2x World Champion Taylor Jensen in pumping, righthand barrels. This puts the San Diego local in the box seat to take his third World Title -- and the first since 2012, as the LCT prepares for the Taiwan Open of Surfing.
Jensen has traveled to Taiwan for the last five years and won the event as an LQS on two occasions, putting him in good stead to go all the way and win his third. But before he gets there he will have to overcome a hungry pack of the world's best, including Piccolo Clemente, Harley Ingleby and Phil Razjman, all of whom are going for a third World Title.
The WSL caught up with Jensen to see how he feels about the LCT, Taiwan and the prospect of taking home another win.
WSL: What are your thoughts on the event upgrade to an Longboard Championship Tour event in 2017?
Taylor Jensen: I think it's a good change. We've spent the past five years at the same left in China and, as nice as it was to feel comfortable and know the wave, I think we're all ready for a change of scene. The event in Taiwan has always been very well run with a killer set-up and I am sure this year will be no different.
You've had a lot of experience in Taiwan as well. What do you think of the place?
I'm a huge fan of the wave at Jinzun Harbor. It is super consistent and I've never seen it get below chest high. It is really user friendly and reminds me a lot of Trestles the way it breaks over cobblestones. It gives you the opportunity to go left and right so it's a perfect location for an event.
How are you feeling in the lead-up to the event?
Honestly, I'm just back in the water after tearing my MCL a little while back. Although I'm not feeling 100 percent yet, I feel like I'm coming out of it a lot stronger and with more purpose and intent in my surfing. There was a lot of time for reflection and getting the mental side of things clear. I have been training and rehabbing like a madman and it has been a really positive side effect. As far as heading into Taiwan, I'm feeling good. The goal in Papua New Guinea was to put myself in the best possible spot for the final event and I was able to do that. Now I know what I have to do, I might have a little lead but the only way to guarantee a World Title is to win the final event.
How important is it to the Longboard community that there has been another event added to the LCT and in two new, awesome locations?
The more events the better. I like the race, the anticipation and the game. It's all fun to me. I guess I just love competition. When I won my first World Title we had two events, so it is somewhat familiar territory. I've always felt like a consistent surfer so hopefully that can help. I want to come home from Taiwan with a World Title but at the end of the event if it wasn't meant to be I'll know I did everything I possibly could to win. As long as I don't have any "what if's" when the years done I'll be content.