Solid swells and torrential rain were the order of the day at the The Taiwan Open Of Surfing Hosted by Taitung County Government, with competitors across all divisions making the most of the clean, 5-6ft swell. Semfinalists were decided for each of the ASP sanctioned events, including the men's Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS), women's LQS and men's Qualifying Series (QS) events, as well as the crowing of the 2014 Asian Surfing Championship winner (ASC).
Australia's Jack Entwistle (Manly, NSW) got one step closer to his goal of qualifying for the 2015 ASP World Longboard Championships by defeating Taiwan's Tomei Chen, progressing through to the Semifinals where he will face Taylor Jensen (USA). Entwistle patrolled the lineup and performed critical noserides and carves to keep his Taiwan Open Of Surfing dream alive.
"I'm really happy to win,â€ Entwistle said. "There was a lot of paddling to find the right waves but I'm really happy to get through. I pretty much have to win the event in order to qualify for the World Longboard Championships next year, so that's my main focus as it's really important, otherwise I don't really change positions on the ASP Australasia LQS rankings. It's been really fun over here this week, it's such a good country and it's been a great trip."
Tomei Chen (TPE) was one of four Taiwanese to make it through to the LQS Quarterfinals, unfortunately all the local surfers bowed out and finished the event in equal 5th place. Regardless, Chen is happy that there is a world class event like this in Taiwan to help him and other Taiwanese surfers improve for the future.
"I'm really happy to get into the Quarterfinals,â€ Chen said. "The waves were good today but it was hard out there. I didn't do my best but I had fun. It's really important to have this event here, it means that in the future many Taiwanese can get better and better, we learn a lot from the international competitors that come here."
Justin Redman (AUS) surfed a powerful heat against Chung Hua Chen (TPE) who unfortunately lost time with a broken board early in the heat. Redman, who favoured the long left-handers today will face Nic Jones (AUS) in the Semifinals tomorrow.
"There was a fair bit of swell out there and obviously catching two waves was the most important thing," Redman said. â€œIt was a bit of bad luck for my fellow competitor who broke his board on his first wave. It was a bit bigger and cleaner today, so probably the best day so far and I definitely want to make the Final. I'm up against Nic Jones (AUS) in the Semifinal, so it will be a tough heat. I think I just need to get two big lefts to get some good scores.â€
Nic Jones took out his LQS Quarterfinal with a 7.50 (out of a possible 10) and a 6.50, linking carves, wrapping turns and nose rides to easily seal his spot in the Semifinals. Jones also progressed into the QS Quarterfinals but lost out in a back and forth battle to Jackson Carey (AUS).
"I've still got a few hard heats ahead of me but I'm one step closer to being ASP Australasian Longboard Champion,â€ Jones said. â€œIt's become a little more realistic now. It will be a hard Semifinal against Justin (Redman), I'm just focussing on doing well in that right now. The surf is way cleaner than yesterday but it's still big and easy to get caught in the wrong spot.â€
Taylor Jensen (USA), two-time ASP World Longboard Champion is the only surfer at the Taiwan Open of Surfing to advance into both LQS and QS Semifinals. Jensen is world renowned for his skills on a nine foot board but today showed he's deadly on a shortboard when he eliminated last year's event champion Jun Shiiba (JPN).
"The swell has picked up over night and the wind is more offshore, but I found it a little harder to surf today and pick the right waves," Jensen said. "It feels really good to get through to both Semifinals. I'm not really focussed on one division over the other, I like to compete in both and they're both really fun, I've obviously got a better shot at the longboard division, but I like to just challenge myself on a shortboard and I don't ever do it except for at this event so it's a good chance to have a go and have fun."
Jensen's partner Nava Young (AUS) selected two great waves in her Quarterfinal, riding with flow and grace, being awarded a 7.00 and 5.50 for a combined total of 12.50 (out of 20), despite snapping her legrope in the big surf and losing time swimming in and paddling back out. Young will face Shiu Yon Chang (TPE) in the women's LQS Semifinals tomorrow.
"It was a lot of work but the waves were actually a lot of fun,â€ Young said. "I unfortunately lost my legrope after the first wave so I swam and got washed around for a good ten minutes, but I managed to make it back out there and get another good one. It's always really good to go well in an ASP LQS event, especially in Taiwan, it's so beautiful and we're so happy to be over here. The GoPro World Longboard Championships in China are next so I'm really happy to get in at least a Semifinal, which is good practice."
In an all Japanese affair Ryota Matsushita and Takumi Nakamura faced off in the QS Quarterfinals, both hungry for the win, with valuable QS ranking's points and bragging rights on the line. Matsushita took out the win with a combined heat total of 15.65 (out of a possible 20) including a 9.00 ride for a long lefthand ride with a number of big carves and snaps.
"It was a lot bigger out there than it looked from shore,â€ Matsushita said. â€œI didn't really know until I got out there what to select but I adjusted to the waves and caught a good left. My nine point ride was a good wave and I was really happy with the score but I didn't really think I surfed my best, I can be much more aggressive than that. This is the most important event for me, as this is the deciding event to crown the ASP Japan Champions."
Made Widiarta (IDN) and Jordan Lawler (AUS) battled to the buzzer in their Quarterfinal, with Lawler scoring the wave of the heat, taking off with just six seconds to go to steal the win. Needing a 7.90 to progress, Lawler pulled off a series of big turns, finished with a blow tail reverse, coming away with an 8.25 and enough to move into first place. The elimination of Widiarta saw Dede Suryana (IND) claim the prestigious 2014 Asian Surfing Championship title.
"I'm stoked to get through that and win, I knew I needed to surf really well against Made (Widiarta) because he's such a good surfer," Lawler said. "I didn't really get the kind of waves I wanted leading into that last one, with seconds to go I was so lucky because that was the exact wave that I wanted, I managed to get a few good turns in and at the end just closed my eyes and pulled off that reverse slide. I just feel really lucky, after the week I've had it feels like a bit of reward."