Some of Australia best longboarders have impressed in sensational winter conditions along Western Australia's metropolitan coastline, with the 21st annual Whalebone Longboard Classic commencing off Cottesloe in emphatic fashion.
The WSL Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) divisions highlighted a memorable day of competition, with surfers from all corners of Australia making the most of clean and groomed 2-to-4 foot surf on offer. In arguably some of the best conditions to have blessed the Whalebone Longboard Classic, competitors went all-out in hopes of progressing at WA's most iconic and much-loved longboarding festival.
Men's and Women's Semifinalists were decided after excellent surfing from some home-grown local talent and the current Australasian LQS ratings leaders.
Jack Medland (Marmion, WA/AUS) confirmed his status as WA's ‘next big thing', with some inspired surfing on display. Medland dropped multiple excellent and near-perfect scores on his way through to the Semifinals.
"I'm feeling great today and I'm super stoked to make it this far," said Medland. "It's an honor to surf against the east coast guys who are here for the event and the waves are as good as I can remember. There's always a bit of luck involved, but I think my local knowledge helped me out there too."
Medland will take on current Australasian LQS ratings leader Dane Pioli (Coolangatta, QLD/AUS) who made a notable return to the Whalebone Longboard Classic for the first time since 2013.
Pioli used his years of competition experience to progress through to the Semifinals after a couple of hard fought heats.
"I think this is a good as it gets here," said Pioli. "I had a shocking first heat and just managed to scrape through, but I got back on my old board and it felt so much better. It's been a massive year for me and I'm really motivated to try qualify for the Longboard Championship Tour in 2019."
Defending Whalebone Classic champion Jack Entwistle (Manly, NSW/AUS) was another who found the conditions to his liking, linking together critical rail surfing with great footwork to book his place in the Semifinals.
Entwistle had to overcome close friend Nic Jones (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) in a cutthroat Quarterfinal, with just 0.50 separating the two when the final siren sounded. Entwistle posted a combined two-wave total 17.00 (from a possible 20), which included a 9.00 and 8.00 to move through to the Semifinals.
"It's definitely the best waves I can recall surfing at the Whalebone, by far the biggest and cleanest waves I can remember," said Entwistle. "It's always tough coming up against a close mate, but we're all looking to qualify for the Longboard CT, all bets are off once you hit the water, I'm stoked to make it through that one and I'd love to get back-to-back wins here."
Entwistle will take on Ben Considine (Barwon Heads, VIC/AUS) in the Semifinals after Considine locked in his best result of the year and was also blown away with today's wave quality.
"We had some really nice righthand runners on offer and the winds have stayed offshore pretty much all day," said Considine. "This is the best result I've had all year and I'm really looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow."
On the women's side of the draw, No. 1 seed Emily Lethbridge (Noosa, QLD/AUS) will take Lucy Small (Denmark, WA/AUS), while Georgia Young (Swanbourne, WA/AUS) will face off against Tully White (Manly, NSW/AUS) when competition continues tomorrow.
"This is my first time to WA and the waves have really impressed me so far," said Lethbridge. "I don't get to wear a wetsuit that often so it's nice to rug up and the wave conditions this morning were amazing. It's super close on the ratings leaderboard right now so tomorrow will be interesting for myself and Tully."
Great longboarding conditions are set to continue tomorrow with competition at the 21st Annual Whalebone Classic set to continue from 7:30 a.mm at Isolators Reef, Cottesloe.
The Whalebone Classic was born in 1998 after local longboarder Peter Dunn, discovered a whale's rib bone immersed in the surf at Isolators and decided to host a longboarding competition in memory of the whale's spirit.
Twenty-one years on, the competition has grown to be one of Western Australia's most iconic longboard events and a much-loved tradition within the local community.