Men's and women's finalists have been decided on an exciting second day of competition at the World Surf League (WSL) sanctioned Whalebone Longboard Classic at Isolators Reef in Cottesloe.
After pumping conditions greeted competitors yesterday, the swell eased dramatically overnight, resulting in tightly contested heats to decide who would reach the Finals of the Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) event.
Dane Pioli (Coolangatta, QLD/AUS) used impeccable footwork in the clean, but inconsistent surf to book his place into the final. Pioli used every inch of his nine-foot plus longboard to defeat local hope Jack Medland (Marmion, WA/AUS) in Semifinal 1.
Pioli drew upon his years of competition experience to post two excellent scores and finish on a combined total of 17.25 (from a possible 20), leaving Medland chasing an 8.61 (from a possible 10) for victory.
"That was a really close heat between Jack and I, so I just tried to focus on my nose-riding and using priority to the best of my ability," said Pioli. "It was a real back-and-forth heat, so I'm stoked to make it through to the Final and consolidate my position on top of the ratings."
Pioli will take on defending Whalebone Classic champion Jack Entwistle (Manly, NSW/AUS) in a replay of the Australian Longboard Surfing Open Final in Kingscliff, back in March.
Entwistle used his long limbs to his advantage, swooping into some nice backhand manoeuvres to defeat Ben Considine (Barwon Heads, VIC/AUS) in another hotly contested Semifinal.
Entwistle posted a heat high 8.50 (from a possible 10) and finished on a combined total of 15.70 (from a possible 20), compared to Considine's combination of 14.85 (from a possible 20).
"I'm super stoked to make it through to another final here at the Whalebone Classic," said Entwistle. "It was a really tough Semi against Ben (Considine) and I just tried to make the most of my opportunities out there. I'm really keen to get one back on Dane (Pioli) after finishing second to him in Kingscliff earlier this year."
Emily Lethbridge (Noosa, QLD/AUS) proved why she's leading the Women's Australasian LQS ratings, locking her spot in the Whalebone Classic women's final after defeating Lucy Small (Denmark, WA/AUS).
Lethbridge scored a combined total of 13.85 (from a possible 20) on her way through to her maiden Whalebone Longboard Classic Final.
"It's a long way to come from Noosa, so it's really nice to make the final and make the trip worthwhile," said Lethbridge. "I knew I just had to get on the best waves out there. I've got a second and a third place finish at the two events this year so it would be nice to get a first tomorrow."
Georgia Young (Swanbourne, WA/AUS) is a multiple Whalebone Classic champion but she had to overcome an inform Tully White (Manly, NSW/AUS) to reach yet another final.
Young used her local knowledge to perfection scoring a combined total of 14.15 (from a possible 20) in comparison to White's 13.40 (from a possible 20).
"I'm feeling so good right now, I've had a few bad results over the past couple of years and to be back in the final is the best feeling," said Young. "I could hear everyone cheering on from the beach which was amazing. You had to be really patient out there, I sat with priority for almost 20 minutes waiting for a good set wave which finally came to me."
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.
The 21st Annual Whalebone Classic will continue from 7:30am at Isolators Reef, Cottesloe.