Over two decades since capturing his first Longboard World Title, California's Joel Tudor is the 2021 Longboard World Champion.
The World Title, Tudor's third, comes after Tudor earned a stunning win at the 2020 Noosa Longboard Open at the age of 43. After the remainder of the 2020 season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Noosa result and subsequent points are carried over to his 2021 campaign.
Now the 45-year-old Tudor is distinguished as being the oldest surfing World Champion.
"This was for Donald Takayama," Tudor said after claiming his third Title. "I said it to Kai (Sallas) right before I paddled out. He kind of mentored my whole existence, I wouldn't be here where I am today if it wasn't for him."
Schooled by mentors such as Nat Young and the late Donald Takayama, Tudor has been a stoic and sometimes polarizing champion of longboarding. He won his first WSL event (then the ASP) when he was only 15 years old. His first World Title came in 1998. He backed that up with a second Title in 2004.
When he walked away from full-time competition nearly 20 years ago he felt there was too strong of a focus on rewarding shortboard moves performed on longboards.
It was this frustration which eventually saw him unveil his Duct Tape Invitational series as an outlet for classic longboarding; shortboarding should be about progression, but longboarding, at its best in Tudor's opinion, was seen as a celebration of tradition.
"He went off and did it his way, and they (the events) became very successful and a place where he could pressure test and show the world that this is a great way to frame up longboarding, in terms of competition," says WSL Longboard Tour Commissioner Devon Howard.
While Tudor couldn't really compete in his own events, everyone knew that he still probably could have won at least half of them. And while he might have hung the jersey up for a while, few were under the illusion that he'd lost the competitive drive that has now secured him his third Longboard World Title.
"The most proud thing of all of this is that I finally beat Kelly at something," Tudor laughed after recognizing his historic win at the age of 45. "So remember that."