The stage has been set for an epic weekend finale at the Taiwan Open World Longboard Championship after yet another epic day of surfing from some of the best longboarders on the planet. In moderate cross-shore winds and 2-to-3 foot surf, the event ran through Men's Round 3 leaving only 12 of the original 36 competitors left in contention for the 2018 World Title.
By far the performance of the event till now went to surfer shaper Ben Skinner, who on a board he shaped himself posted an excellent 18.07 heat total, the highest of the event so far. Skinner rode the nose through critical sections of the wave then put the ultimate exclamation point on his ride by adding one of his trademark drop-knee cut-back turns to complete the wave and post a near excellent 9.47 (out of a possible 10).
"I feel like if that heat kept going I would have kept posting good scores," Skinner said. "I was just feeling really confident and in sync with the waves. My board is feeling really good -- I've been working on refining this model for a while now so it's nice to feel it go so good. Recently I have come to terms with the fact that I'm in the back end of my career and that I should enjoy competing as much as I can while I'm still doing it. I think relaxing like that has helped me perform as there is less pressure on me."
Round 3 got underway with Phil RajzmanPhil Rajzman coming up against the first Uruguayan representative at the WSL World Longboard Championship, Julian Schweizer. The two time World Champion Rajzman took a while to find his feet but eventually posted a 13.57 heat total to take a solid lead. Needing a score, Schweizer took off on a set wave with only a few seconds left in the heat, but unfortunately for Julian the wave didn't offer much opportunity and he didn't meet the requirement, leaving Rajzman to move into Round 4.
"The waves are really good but with that wind blowing into the rights it's hard to nose ride," Rajzman said. "I didn't have much confidence to walk along my board early in the heat and it was quite stressful, but eventually I got into a rhythm. When Julian was paddling into that last wave I was nervous as he is a really capable surfer but thankfully it didn't offer him much and I was able to get the win."
Australian title hopeful Harley Ingleby rebounded well from surfing in Round 2, taking a dominating win over Austin Hollingshead (USA) in Heat 3 of round 3. Ingleby showed great variety on both rail and the nose to win with a heat total of 14.07.
"I'm happy with how that heat went," Ingleby said. "I started with a couple of decent scores and was able to build from there. The waves are nice today but you can definitely feel that there is a little less push in the waves. It looks like the next few days are going to pick up again and the wind will stay a little more cooperative so it should be a good end to the event."
Reigning three-time World Champion Taylor Jensen had an unfortunate matchup with Aussie Jared Neal as the ocean decided to go flat and the wind began to puff up from the North. Jensen posted his two-wave total off the bat and then struggled to find a wave of real consequence. Fortunately for him, Neal had minimal opportunity as well, meaning Jensen was able to hang onto the lead and sneak through the heat into Round 4.
"I have a really interesting relationship with this wave," Jensen said. "Yesterday I had a similar experience where I paddled out and the waves just stopped. It wasn't Ideal that it happened in a heat but it's all good because I made it through. It's looking like this is the worst day for conditions so I'm looking forward to the next round. I'm surfing some new boards at the moment that feel really good and that always makes a difference."
Antoine Delpero continued his dominating form at Jinzun, taking down World Championship debutant Sam Christianson with an impressive heat total of 15.17. The always stylish Delpero will now face off with Piccolo Clemente (PER) and his younger brother Edouard, the event defending champion, in Round 4, Heat 3.
"With the waves like they are at the moment, you just have to take off on anything and hope for the best," Delpero said. "I was glad I got a couple of good waves in that heat and am looking forward to coming up against my younger brother. We have surfed against each other so it's nothing new but it is always fun -- especially if we both progress."