The Noosa Longboard Open has seen another day of competition and yet another location change as the swell has continued to drop at Noosa, Queensland. With the swell magnet of Castaways at Sunshine Beach offering up 2-to-3 foot peaks, the field was narrowed to the Quarterfinalists meaning we will see the first winners of the revamped WSL Longboard Tour crowned tomorrow afternoon.
The upset of the event so far went down in Heat 4 of Round 4 as Reigning WSL World Longboard Champion Soleil Errico was eliminated by young Hawaiian Kirra Seale . Errico was in solid form during the Noosa Longboard Open but in her Round 4 heat struggled to find a two-wave combination to keep her safely in the lead. With only her nose in front with two minutes left, Errico watched as Seale rode a wave all the way to the beach, carving, weaving and walking to the nose to post the score she needed and take the heat win.
"That was definitely the most nervous I have ever been for a heat," Seale said. "There are so many amazing surfers here but obviously Soleil is rated number one so is the one to beat. It was cool coming up against her as I feel like there is a small group of us younger surfers coming through and establishing ourselves and to do so along with the new Longboard Tour is awesome. I was so stoked when I heard about the new Longboard Tour and I'm hoping we can get a stop at home in Hawaii. I remember going and watching the Oxbow at Makaha when I was a kid so it would be cool to have something that big at home again."
Perennial World Title threat Chloe Calmon had one of her lowest place finishes in the World Title race in 2018. Calmon is the first to admit that the pressure of performing at one event got to her and the super talented Brazilian performed well below her capabilities when it mattered most. In 2019, a more relaxed Calmon is excited at the prospect of mounting a year-long campaign as she hunts for her maiden Title.
"This is going to be such an exciting year to be involved with Longboarding," Calmon said. "I think that the Longboard Tour having four stops instead of one will make each event a bit more relaxing as their won't be so much pressure to have to win. It was a shame we had to move the event from First Point as it is such a world class wave but if you want to become a world champion you need to prepared to surf in any conditions at any kind of wave so it's all good."
Reigning WSL World Longboard Champion Steven Sawyer only just kept his hopes alive at the Noosa Longboard Open, narrowly winning his heat over former two-time World Champion Phil Rajzman. Rajzman was in the driver's seat for the entire match-up while Sawyer struggled to find a decent wave. In the dying seconds, Sawyer locked onto a long left and beached it, earning himself the score he needed to win another close matchup with Rajzman.
"That was a close one," Sawyer said. "I had a feeling the left would come to life at some stage during that heat I just didn't think it would take so long so I was getting pretty nervous. I'm just so thankful I waited it out and got a decent one at the end. Phil (Rajzman) and I have a lot of close heats like that with struggles for priority in the dying minutes. He's such a formidable competitor and a great guy, so I know a heat with him is going to be entertaining."
Local standout Harrison Roach continued his march towards Finals Day at Noosa, Queensland with another solid performance, this time at Castaways. Having surfed all the way from Round 1, Roach will have surfed six times at three separate locations by the time he finishes his Quarterfinal heat tomorrow. Although he feels he is still a long way away from the Final, he is happy with the direction Longboarding sees to be taking at this event.
"This has kind of been like a normal week for me at home getting a few waves at First Point, then Main Beach now at Sunshine," Roach said. "I definitely am not thinking about winning the event just yet but the fact I'm in the finals is a great indication of the direction that WSL is taking with longboarding. I think if a guy like Justin Quintal was to win the event it would be really exciting for Longboarding in general."
East Coast surfer Justin Quintal made his return to WSL events this week at Noosa and so far it has paid off as the super stylish goofy-footer now finds himself into the Quarterfinals. Quintal is a big fan of the new WSL Longboard Tour format along with the fresh stops on Tour, so much so that he has shown signs of committing to competing on the entire tour and hopes to find himself vying for a title in Taiwan at the year's end.
"Devon Howard (WSL Longboard Tour Director) is a surfer I've always admired so when he approached me and explained the new situation with the WSL Longboard Tour I was keen to check it out," Quintal said. "There are a few other guys and girls who ride single fins and are getting rewarded for traditional turns and nose riding so it's really cool to be a part of it and I'm excited to see how the year goes. Being in Noosa is great as it is such a beautiful part of the world but I'm really excited for the New York event. New York is a place I have had experience surfing and is really close to home for me on the East Coast. I think the event will be a really good thing for surfing especially longboarding on the East Coast of America."