- WSL / Tim Hain

Day 1 of the PADROL Longboard Classic, World Surf League (WSL) Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) event, kicked off this morning at Halfway Kuta Beach in excellent one-to-three foot waves. The pressure was on, which brought out the best in those in the running to qualify for a spot on the 2023 WSL World Longboard Tour (WLT), and tomorrow morning the action is set to continue with the men's and women's Round of 16.

Former WLT competitor Natsumi Taoka (JPN) made it clear she wants nothing less than to be back on Tour later this year, putting up, two excellent scores in the first heat of the event. Takoa posted first a 9.5 followed by a 9.0 (out of a possible 10) to decimate her competition with an 18.50 total heat (out of a possible 20). She opted to go right and delivered a mixed bag of nose rides, turns and re-entries to bring cheers to the fans on the beach and declare an emphatic heat win.

"It was a bit small but it's really good," Taoka said. "I got those two really good waves and it felt great. There were so many people in the water when I practised this morning, so just being with three people out there is nice. I could just catch whatever waves I wanted, and I picked the best ones."

Natsumi Taoka Natsumi Taoka - WSL / Tim Hain

As the tide drained out and conditions got trickier, big scores became harder to come by, but in the last heat of the day, Masaya Tsukamoto (JPN) earned the highest wave score and total heat score on the men's. Tsukamoto surfed the left-hand bank to post a 9.33 single wave score and a 15.33 total heat score.

"In the previous heat I saw some good lefts so I decided to wait and try and get one of them first," Tsukamoto said. "I think it was the best wave of the heat, so lucky I got it. I've been here practising for a couple of days now, but it's been kind of crowded, so being in a heat with just three other guys was a great opportunity. I love Kuta Beach. Thanks so much to Padrol and WSL, and all the supporters for this event."

Masaya Tsukamoto Masaya Tsukamoto - WSL / Tim Hain

Rogelio "Jay-R" Esquievel (PHL), Hiroka Yoshikawa (JPN) and Taka Inoue (JPN) also advanced in their heats, so the race to the top spot of the rankings will continue on Finals Day. It will be an exciting conclusion to the Asian Region WSL Longboard Qualifying Series with the winners being crowned tomorrow afternoon.

The forecast is predicting an increase in swell size tomorrow so conditions should be excellent for the Round of 16 competitors tomorrow morning. Event directors are calling for a 7:30 am start.

The 2023 PADROL Longboard Classic LQS 1,000 will run at Halfway Kuta Beach in Bali on June 3-4 and is sponsored by PADROL, Mamaka by Ovolo Resort, and BGS and organized by the Asian Surf Cooperative and Halfway Kuta Boardriders.

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