Spectacular conditions in China saw the world's best longboard surfers put on a show at the GoPro World Longboard Championships, China presented by Wanning(WLC). The women completed Rounds 4 and 5, seeding the event's quarterfinalists, and the men's event finished Round 3, placing 12 surfers into Round 4.
Kelia Moniz (HAW), reigning two-time ASP World Champion, scored a nail-biting heat win in Round 4, awarding her the direct advance into the Quarterfinals. Moniz struggled early in the clash against Victoria Vergara (FRA) and Kaitlin Maguire (USA), but was able to carve her way into first place with a 7.25 ride in the final minute of the heat.
â€œI knew I was going to get a good score for that wave, but I also thought Kaitlin (Maguire) might improve her position with her last wave,â€ Moniz said. â€œI always have a few shocking heats in the middle of the event, for the first half of that heat I couldn't do anything, I was falling off and not sure about what waves to get. I wasn't feeling very well today, so it's good to have an early heat so I can go and rest and try to get ready for the Quarterfinals.â€
Lindsay Steinriede (USA) won one of the tightest heats of the event thus far. The three woman non-elimination Round 4 bout saw all surfers drop good scores and finish the heat separated by only 1 point. Steinriede, the 2011 ASP World Longboard Champion, advanced directly into the Quarterfinals.
â€œI had a fun free surf before the event started today and I just tried to surf that heat like I did earlier this morning, just go out and catch good waves and have fun,â€ Steinriede said. â€œAt this point in the competition every heat is stacked, so to be able to skip a round is a relief.â€
Harley Ingleby (AUS), 2009 ASP World Longboard Champion bounced back from his uncharacteristic Round 1 loss with a solid win over countryman, Nic Jones. Ingleby hit his stride, opening the heat with an excellent 8-point-ride for seamlessly linking carves and nose rides all the way to shore.
â€œThat was the first surf I've had in China this year where I've felt really good on my board,â€ Ingleby said. â€œWe are all excited about the swell that's on its way, the waves are great now, but it could be bigger and better in the next few days. Nic (Jones) is an exceptional surfer and he played a smart heat, but the ocean didn't cooperate with with him.â€
Clinton Guest (AUS), GoPro WLC wildcard and current Australian Longboard Champion, caused the upset of the day by eliminating reigning ASP World Longboard Champion Piccolo Clemente (PER). It was a seesawing affair with both surfers upping their game and swapping the lead. In the end, it was Guest who advanced into Round 4. Justin Quintal (USA) also caused an upset when he eliminated No. 2 seed Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA).
â€œIt's been a dream of mine for 15 years to come to this event,â€ Guest said. â€œI was the lowest seed coming up against the World Champion and I saw it as a great opportunity to surf against one of the best longboarders in the world. I was lucky enough to get a couple of nose rides and I stuck to my game plan and it worked. We have a high caliber of longboarders from Australia, with guys like Harley (Ingleby) and Jared (Neale), and I've been lucky enough to surf against them for a while, so that was great preparation.â€
Taylor Jensen (USA), two-time ASP World Longboard Champion bounced back from a relatively slow start at the event compared to his usual ripping standards. Jensen didn't step a foot wrong in his match-up against France's Remi Arauzo, posting excellent scores for rail carves and lengthy hang-10s.
â€œThere's been a few changes to the judging criteria and it's taken me a while to figure it out,â€ Jensen said. â€œIn that last heat I posted a couple of good scores right away, so that took the pressure off and allowed me to try a few things and see what they were rewarding. I've been here a few times and this is the best surf I've seen in China and it's supposed to get even better in the next few days, I can't wait.â€
Phil Rajzman (BRA), 2007 ASP World Champion was on fire in his Round 4 win over New Zealand's Thomas Kibblewhite. Rajzman rode the nose and carved harder than the rest today, clocking the highest two-wave heat-total of the day â€” 18.85.
â€œI'm very happy, the conditions are incredible now!â€ Rajzman said. â€œI've been training and filming all year with Chloe Calmon who's also from Brazil. We went to California, Peru, Costa Rica and around Brazil. It was great, in California I learned a bit more about classic longboard style and that's what the judges want to see.â€
A typhoon that's currently tracking to the south of Hainan Island will send bigger and better surf in the coming days, with the potential to crown the 2014 ASP Women's World Longboard Champion as early as tomorrow.