Taitung is a lush and mountainous county in the southeast of Taiwan, divided into various townships such as Donghe, just north of Taitung City, which hosts the super reliable set-up of Jinzun Harbor - an explosive feast of rights, lefts, peaks and points in just one bay. There is also an array of rich cultural heritage, evident in the proud indigenous communities and the great food, notably the ubiquitous baozi buns, and the sizzling street-markets of atmospheric Taitung City.
Experiencing the treasures of Taitung for the first time are a fresh group of competitors who are setting the event ablaze. In the men's look out for smooth-surfing Sam Christianson from Durban, radical-turning Julian Schweizer from Montevideo, and the hang ten soul-arches of Jack Unsworth from Westward Ho.
In the women's keep your eyes peeled for the flowing style of Haliewa's Kirra Seale and respective Africa and Australia/Oceania Longboard Tour Winners - the fast-surfing Crystal Hulett from St Francis Bay, and the brilliant goofyfooter Emily Lethbridge from Noosaville. Lethbridge's board sponsor (Creative Army) is the evergreen Josh Constable, 2006 World Longboard Champion (where be neat Ned Snow (HAW) in Costa Rica) and a wild card at the event, having recently re-ignited his competitive spark with a number of impressive performances.
Other former World Champions in spectacular form include Makaha titan Duane Desoto (HAW), who won his crown in home waters in 2010, and a trio of two-times World Title Winners: Coffs Coast legend Harley Ingleby won in 2009 (Maldives) and 2014 (China), Rio de Janeiro's powerhouse Phil Rajzman won in 2007 (France) and 2016 (China), and Peruvian star Piccolo Clemente won in 2013 and 2015 in China.
"I'm currently studying a Sports Management Bachelors Degree at Bond University in Australia," said Rachael Tilly (USA), "so I've been training on the Gold Coast with some really beautiful new hand shapes from Josh Martin at Hobie."
Reigning World Champions Taylor Jensen and Honolua Blomfield will be fully focused on defending their crowns, and as regulars to Taiwan, they both feel at home here, and have been firing on all cylinders. The North Shore's Blomfield beat Lindsay Steinriede in last year's final in stunning crystal clean conditions. It was a sensational display of women's competitive longboarding.
Looking for revenge with his trademark fast footwork and precise carves will be Edouard Delpero who was last year's event winner, but was edged out of a World Title in a surf-off that earned Californian Jensen his third World Title. France (and Reunion Island) have a fantastic group for competitors geared up for the contest including Edouard's brother Antoine, Emilien Fleury and Alice Lemoigne. There's a good chance one of World Title trophies could be draped in the French tricolour flag to the chants of "Allez Les Blues." But with 11 different nations represented and 10 former World Champions on show, the World Title race is as wide open as ever. Fireworks are guaranteed.