The 2017 Taiwan Open World Longboard Championship has officially begun with a traditional opening ceremony taking place at Jinzun Harbour Taitung.
The Elite 10 Day event will see 36 Men and 18 Women competitors battle it out for a chance to become the 2017 World Longboard Champions. In its first year as a Longboard Championship Tour (LCT) event the Taiwan Open will be one for the history books.
After a first place finish at the Men's Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships LCT event earlier in the year, Brazilian sensation Chloe Calmon is sitting in top spot leading into Taiwan. With several second place finishes to her name Calmon is the closest she has ever been to achieving her dream of a longboard world title.
"This is my first time to this spot which is really exciting," Calmon said. "I have been here for a few days now and am really enjoying the place. The wave is really similar to a spot at home so I feel like it suits my surfing. Everyone is surfing really well so it won't be an easy event but I'm so excited to get in the contest jersey."
Returning to Taiwan for his sixth year, two times World Longboard Champion Taylor Jensen is one of the favorites to take out this year's event and with it the title. With the promising forecast on hand with plenty of waves to come, Jensen is confident he has what it takes to make history at Jinzun Harbour in 2017.
"I've had a few wins at this location in the past so feel really confident," Jensen said. "I'm just coming back from an injury and feel in really good shape. I'm super prepared and confident coming into this event. If I take it out, that's great but if I get knocked out early I'll know that I did all I could to win."
Winning her maiden World title in 2016 at China's Riyue Bay was Californian Tory Gilkerson. Coming into the Taiwan event, Gilkerson will have her work cut out after a poor result in PNG but is stoked to be surfing an LCT in a new spot.
"I came to Taiwan last year and really liked it," Gilkerson said. "There is a lot of variety in the waves which is awesome for a contest. I'm feeling really good heading into this contest and the forecast is looking amazing so I'm really excited for it to all get underway."
With 10 days to run and only five needed to finish, event directors have the luxury of being able to pick the best waves on offer during the period. WSL Longboard Commissioner Will Hayden-Smith is familiar with the Taitung area and is happy with what he see's on the forecast.
"There's a lot of excitement around the event site - we're at a new location for the Longboard CT and later this week we will be crowning two World Champions," said Hayden-Smith. "I've been coming here to Taitung for the Taiwan Open of Surfing for the last 4 years, the waves here are truly world-class and I think this an untapped resource when it comes to waves and conditions for surf trips and competitions. I'm really excited to get the LCT underway, the competitors are all excited to start."
The event draw had places on offer for winners of a trials event along with two local wildcards. Running the day before the event window opened the trials event was taken out by Rory Macdonald on the Men's side and Shih Hsiang Yun on the Women's. The two will have a chance to show what they've got on the world stage against the best Longboarders on the planet along with local wildcards Cheng Tong Ming (Men's) and Niu Chen-Lin (Women's).