The Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships opening - a beautiful celebration, with seven surrounding tribes presenting their unique traditional dances. Pic: WSL/Tim Haim
Sunday, 19 March 2017
Tupira, Papua New Guinea: The WSL Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships celebrated the inaugural event with an opening ceremony spectacle today. Seven surrounding tribes came to present their unique traditional dances, before keynote speakers addressed the crowd of hundreds.
In addition, local children involved with a surf initiative program paddled out for a chance to be recognized and earn a spot toward an expression session with some of the world's best longboarders later in the week.
The women's event was set to start following the beautiful presentation of dance, celebration, and words from those who have helped build this contest from the ground up. But, due to inclement weather and awaiting the swell to arrive, competition was called off for the day -- though surfers are still eager to begin their PNG campaigns with a likely start tomorrow.
2016 World Champion Tory Gilkerson (USA) begins her quest to reclaim the Title in Round One, Heat 3 against Atalanta Batista (BRA) and wildcard selection Rothy Kurumuk (PNG). The San Clemente, California representative has her goals set high for the new format of a multi-event series that begins here in Papua New Guinea.
"Being number one definitely makes me want more," Gilkerson said. "Right now I'm at the top and I really want to stay there. It's a nice feeling and I think I'll try to keep it going for as long as I can, I can't wait for this event. It's going to be interesting to be at a new venue with almost opposite conditions to compared with where I won. It will be really fun and exciting to have a bit of a title race unfold at multiple events [as well]."
President and co-founder of the Surfing Association PNG (SAPNG), Andrew Abel, has worked relentlessly on bringing this event to life. The groundbreaking announcement was made at last year's World Longboard Championships (WLC) in China after three decades of striving toward this goal. Abel and his team recognize surfing's value in their country and this inaugural event is a key factor in that mission to help it grow.
"Thirty years ago I had a vision, I started out on a mission to introduce surfing to PNG," Abel said. "[Surfing] as a resource is worth all the timber, gold, and copper that is now being exported out of our nation. As long as we maintain this resource properly in a transparent and honest manner, future generations will prosper -- and that is paramount. SAPANG is not just made out of a bunch of surfers, but rather a group of us who are committed to help bring what you see here at this event to our country as a whole. "
Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Kirrwom was a driving force to the growth of Tupira Surf Club, as well as the event's partnership with the PNG Government and Kumul Consolidated Holdings. Kirrwom grew up in Ulingan Bay and is passionate about the power of wave-riding, and what it can bring to Papua New Guinea. The Supreme Court Justice has also helped open doors for the Nicolas Kirrwom Resource Education Center, stressing that without schooling, children won't have access to the surfboards on offer to them.
"Our surfing history has lead us to this moment and the first event held in our country," Kirrwom said. "Surfing is clean and healthy, and promotes a healthy environment. We cannot thank the people who have worked tirelessly to help get this contest ready for everyone. I'm also honored to provide a structure in acknowledgement of that effort and to help guide our youth toward a brighter future."
Local children followed the speeches made and got in the water to showcase their talents to all in attendance. A handful of them will be chosen to surf with some of the world's best longboarders later on in the week. It is a project that Tom Wegener has spearheaded with the help of his fellow colleagues and shaped boards from balsa trees to provide the youth with a chance to get in the water.
Event organizers will reconvene tomorrow for a 7:45am AEDT call to determine a possible 8:00am AEDT start of either the men's or women's Round One.
Upcoming Kumul PNG Women's World Longboard Championships Round One Matchups:
Rachael Tilly (USA), Crystal Walsh (HAW), Maria Fernada Reyes (PER)
Justine Mauvin (REU), Chelsea Williams (AUS), Kaitlin Maguire (USA)
Tory Gilkerson (USA), Atalanta Batista (BRA), Rothy Kurumuk (PNG)
Chloe Calmon (BRA), Natsumi Taoka (JPN), Marianne Longa (PNG)
Alice Lemoigne (REU), Lindsey Steinriede (USA), Kathryn Hughes (AUS)
Honolua Blomfield (HAW), Nava Young (AUS), Victoria Vergara (FRA)
Upcoming Kumul PNG Men's World Longboard Championships Round One Matchups:
Ben Skinner (GBR), Kevin Skvarna (USA), Alfonzo Pieters (ZAF)
Piccolo Clemente (PER), Lucas Garrido Lecca (PER), Joe Hornbuckle (GBR)
Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA), Tony Silvagni (USA), Dane Pioli (AUS)
Taylor Jensen (USA), Aureliean Meynieux (REU), Damien Castera (FRA)
Steven Sawyer (ZAF), Shohei Akimoto (JPN), Titima Mange (PNG)
Phil Rajzman (BRA), Jack Entwistle (AUS), Akun Alois (PNG)
Edouard Delpero (FRA), Emilien Fluerry (FRA), Bage Brayner (BRA)
Harley Ingleby (AUS), David Arganda (USA), Jefson Silva (BRA)
Kai Sallas (HAW), Ned Snow (HAW), Masaya Tsukamoto (JPN)
Matthew Moir (ZAF), Adam Griffiths (GBR), Kaniela Stewart (HAW)
Cole Robbins (USA), Jared Neal (AUS), Augusto Olinto (BRA)
Jeferson Silva (BRA), Anotine Delpero (FRA), Nic Jones (AUS)