The Taiwan Open World Longboard Championships has continued today in more solid and windy conditions at Jinzun Harbour. All eight heats of Women's Round 2 were completed in three-to-five foot surf as the event saw its first women's eliminations.
2011 Women's World Longboard Champion Lindsay Steinriede was relieved to progress through her elimination Round 2 heat against Taiwanese Wildcard Pan Mei-Hsin. Steinriede started her heat well but struggled to find her position after she was washed in by a huge closeout set. The Californian is stoked to have made such a tough matchup and now shifts her focus to making it to Finals Day and giving herself every opportunity to claim another title in 2019.
"There is a lot more wind and swell today than I was expecting," Steinride said. "I saw a few of the free-surfers getting some fun looking waves before I paddled out so I was pretty excited. I got a good one at the start then just got lost at sea so I'm pretty glad to have made it. I eventually worked out where to sit but it was a huge battle. It was a battle against the elements and mother nature and then a battle against my opponent. I'm definitely here looking for another World Title but a lot needs to happen for me to win it so I'm just looking to go as far as I can because anything could happen."
Sunshine Coast resident Emily Lethbridge opted to surf with the wind and go left at Jinzun Harbour, utilising the long clean face to walk to the nose on multiple sections and showcase variation with her rail work. Emily posted a 7.67 (out of a possible 10) to take a commanding lead but couldn't relax after she struggled to return to the lineup and back up her opening ride. Fortunately for Lethbridge, fellow Aussie Kirra Molnar also struggled to find a decent score and leaving her compatriot to progress in the top spot.
"I was really keen to get one of those lefts because of the clean faces they were offering," Lethbridge said. "I feel like I got really lucky because I didn't find another one in the end so I'm glad I started so strongly. It's pretty tough out there but it's a good test for us and it's better than if it were flat."
One of the more exciting heats of the Women's Round 2 was between Hawaii's Kelis Kaleopaa and Australian Kathryn Hughes. Kaleopaa took charge of the heat early but left Hughes only chasing a mid-range score. Hughes eventually found a decent set wave late in the matchup but it wasn't enough to take the lead from Kaleopaa who won the heat, much to the delight of the big Hawaiian contingent who watched on from the shore.
"That was pretty tight in the end so I'm so happy to get the win," Kaleopaa said. "When surfing heats in waves like this you just have to find the positives and have a good attitude. We are all surfing these waves so you can't be too down about it. It's cool having a lot of people here from Hawaii, we're like a big travelling family and are all showing each other support which is cool."
With more blustery conditions expected at Jinzun Harbour over the coming days, WSL Event Directors will reconvene tomorrow morning to assess conditions and make a call on competition at 6:15 a.m. local time. The Taiwan Open World Longboard Championship runs from December 1 - 7.