The 2022 Taiwan Open Of Surfing World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) has seen a massive day of competition with 20 heats completed in clean, two-to-four foot surf. Day 3 saw the completion of the women's Round of 32 as well as 12 heats of the men's Round of 64 with some of surfing's next generation putting on epic performances at Jinzun Harbour.
Manly Beach competitor George Pittar (AUS) put on the performance of the event so far in his first appearance at Jinzun Harbour, posting an excellent 8.33 point ride (out of a possible 10) on the first wave of the heat. Pittar found incredible rhythm on the long rolling lefts, going upside-down on multiple sections to win the heat with a two-wave combination of 15.00 (out of a possible 20). Pittar scored the third highest heat total and second highest single wave score of the event so far as he stormed into the Round of 32.
"It's so nice to start a heat that way with a perfect wave coming right to you," Pittar said. "When that left popped up it looked great and it just kept offering sections for me. Before the heat I was a little bit nervous because we've been waiting a few days so to have such great waves for my heat is epic - the right calls have definitely been made. I've been having a ball over here in Taiwan - the waves have been great and I've been enjoying time with all the Aussies. It's good to have a crew that you bond with and enjoy time with. It takes the pressure off and keeps the vibes high which is cool."
One of the most exciting names to compete at this year's Taiwan Open of Surfing is Reef Heazlewood (AUS) who is looking to lock in some early points ahead of 2023 and find his way back onto the Challenger Series and one day onto the elite Championship Tour. Heazlewood got his campaign here in Taiwan off to a great start, narrowly overcoming Bali's Ketut Agus (IDN) in Heat 2 of the Round of 64. Heazlewood looked solid but it was Agus who posted the highest wave of the heat, securing an excellent 8.00 point ride for a series of 3 massive backside snaps to progress just behind Heazlewood.
"I saw that left that Ketut got and really wanted it," Heazlewood said. "When I heard the score he got I knew it was a good one. I'm just glad I had done enough already to keep the lead. This is my first time here in Taiwan and I'm loving it so much. The coastline is incredible and the waves are so fun. We've been having a great time here and are really finding the locals really friendly and welcoming. I'm definitely looking for a solid result here ahead of the 2023 Aussie leg. It's a great opportunity to get some decent points and a bit of a head start as we look to qualify for the 2023 Challenger Series."
Another up-and-coming Aussie who put on an excellent performance in his opening heat of the event was Alister Reginato (AUS) who posted an excellent 8.17 for three, seamlessly linked front side turns on a bowling Jinzun right. Reginato was able to back it up with a 6.33 to advance into the Round of 32.
One surfer in the top 10 of the WSL Asia rankings who put on an epic performance today was Indonesia's Bronson Meydi (IDN) who posted the highest single wave score of the event so far with an 8.50 for a massive full-rotation frontside air-reverse. Meydi is in search of a breakthrough result in 2022 and the peaks of Jinzun Harbour offer a great opportunity for him to do so.
"I tried one of them early in my heat and snapped my board so I knew what to do on the second one," Meydi said. "It's not really my game plan to just do big airs here - I'd like to score on turns too but that wave was asking for a big air. I'm glad to make it but am focussed on the next one now."
Stylish goofy-footer Keijiro Nishi (JPN) put on a silky smooth display of frontside surfing to book himself a spot in the Round of 32, posting a heat total of 15.27, the second highest of the event so far. Nishi's two wave total came from a 7.67 and a 7.60, each for long left handers with multiple sections. Having only competed in two events this year, Nishi is looking for a big result here in Taiwan to find his way up the regional rankings.
"That heat definitely felt really good," Nishi said. "These types of waves really suit my surfing so I was feeling really calm before I paddled out. I definitely feel like this helped me to get in the right rhythm. Posting the highest heat total is certainly a confidence booster so I hope I can keep it going."
The opening heat of the day saw WSL Asia regional rankings leader Kian Martin (SWE) eliminated from competition, leaving the door open for all of those below him to jump up the board with 3000 points up for grabs at the Taiwan Open of Surfing.
The last heat of the day saw the highest two-wave total of the event so far dropped with John Mark Tokong (PHL), fresh off a win in the Philippines post a two-wave total of 15.77 for an incredible combination of rail and aerial surfing. Tokong also looks solid to move up the regional rankings here in Taiwan.
Earlier in the day, the women's Round of 32 was completed with some of the next generation CT hopefuls taking on some of surfing's more established campaigners. The breakthrough performance of the round went to youngster Willow Hardy (AUS) who put on a clutch performance on the last wave of the heat to move from third position to first with less than a minute remaining. Hardy strung together three powerful backside turns to earn a 5.97 and take the heat win.
"The waves are actually really fun out there - especially compared to yesterday," Hardy said. "I was really on the back foot through that heat and then somehow found a right at the end that was actually quite a sick one and somehow managed to get the score. I'm really happy to move into the next round especially if the waves stay like this. It's so much fun."
Competitive veterans Philippa Anderson (AUS) and Paige Hareb (NZL) also made their maiden appearance at the Taiwan Open of Surfing today, both sneaking into the Round of 16 in close match-ups in their opening heats.
Event organisers will reconvene at 7:00 A.M. local time to make a call on competition for a possible 7:30 A.M. start.
The 2022 Taiwan Open of Surfing Women's QS 5000 and Men's QS 3000 will run at Jinzun Harbour from November 13 - 20. The competition will be broadcasted LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, WSL's YouTube channel, and on the free WSL app.
The Taiwan Open of Surfing is proudly supported by the Taitung County Government.