Inaugural 2017 Kumul PNG World Longboard Champions Taylor Jensen (USA) and Chloe Calmon (BRA). Next leg set for Taiwan. Pic: © WSL / Andrew Nichols
Friday, 24 March 2017
“This has been an amazing experience from start to finish and today was unlike anything I’ve ever seen!” The WSL Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships crowned Taylor Jensen (USA) and Chloe Calmon (BRA) its first-ever champions on the shores of Tupira.
An historic day came to a close with Jensen earning his third WLC chair-up the beach after Calmon claimed her maiden WLC victory just moments before. The biggest crowd this event has seen since the start came in masses, some walking through the night to arrive just in time for the day’s action, to witness history be made.
“This is crazy, I’ve never experienced anything like that and to get a win here with all my friends around me makes it that much more special,” Jensen said. “This has been an amazing experience from start to finish and today was unlike anything I’ve ever seen -- it’s almost enough to leave someone speechless. I was a little worried coming here just because you hear things, but witnessing it in person was just proof you can’t believe everything you hear. The people here are amazing and this is something I’ll never forget.”
Jensen clashed with fellow event standout Kai Sallas (HAW) in an incredible Final that demanded their best efforts -- and it was Jensen who rose to that challenge. Sallas jumped to an early lead and looked to be on his way to his first-ever WLC win, but Jensen’s patience paid off and earned an 8.93 (out of a possible 10) to put himself back in the heat. Sallas wasn’t done yet and displayed his phenomenal hang-ten capability to earn an 8.37.
In the dying minutes, Jensen was granted a Tupira gem and did not let it go to waste with his signature power turns after impressive footwork to begin the wave. The score came through at a 9.53, totaling an 18.46 (out of a possible 20), and left Sallas needing a 9.69 with less than a minute on the clock.
“I just knew I needed to find the best set wave I could, that was my plan the whole time -- that’s how it was all day,” Jensen said. “Luckily that last wave came through and I was able to be in first priority to get it, and just did my best to perform on it. Now it’s time to enjoy this moment and then I’ll get ready for Taiwan. I’ve put myself in the best position possible for a third World Title and that would be an incredible honor.”
Adam Griffiths (GBR) finished off at PNG with a career best Semifinal appearance after Jensen eliminated him from competition and still has a stake in the World Title race.
While Sallas earned yet another runner-up in a WLC event, his outlook remained strong with the new multi-event series. The 35-year-old Hawaiian was easily the man to beat alongside Jensen after taking out giant killer Antoine Delpero (FRA) in the Semifinals, and is prepared for the year ahead.
“I went into that Final with the idea to keep doing what I have been and focus on my surfing” Sallas said. “I’ve been doing contests for a long time now and when you get to finals day you’re pretty mentally drained so I knew I just had to go out there and perform. That was one of the coolest crowds I’ve ever seen just standing shoulder-to-shoulder and heard they walked hours to get here -- it was pretty incredible. This is a great result and now I’ll look to do one better at the next one for a Title.”
Just before Jensen’s massive performance, Calmon showed pure emotion when the final horn sounded after she earned her first WLC win in front of the massive crowd -- nearly in disbelief.
“I’ve always dreamed about winning an event, but this is completely different from anything I’ve ever thought it would be like,” Calmon said. “This was the first contest where I put aside my competitiveness and just went to have fun, so it was great to find that balance finally. Since the first heat I was so amazed by the energy of this place and just so happy about myself. I’m so thankful to be here in this amazing place with these great people and if I had gotten 1st or 2nd I would’ve been happy no matter what.”
The 2016 WLC runner-up had to deal with an in-form 2015 WLC runner-up Crystal Walsh (HAW) in an intense Final. The runner-up curse looked to be following Calmon into this event as she came short of the required score on two occasions -- the Brazilian earned an 8.57 instead of the needed 8.60 before falling just shy again by .04.
However, Calmon’s last score of 7.20 was the lead change she needed and topped Walsh by just .41.
“It was incredible to see so many people cheering for me with my friends all there to support me through that Final,” Calmon said. “Crystal [Walsh] was surfing amazing and I knew it would take all I had to beat her after surfing against Honolua [Blomfield] in that last Semifinal. This is such a big win for me and to do it like that was such a good feeling and know I’m capable of performing when I need to.”
Walsh may leave PNG with a runner-up spot, but has put herself in the best position behind Calmon as a World Title nod. The Hawaiian posted the women’s biggest single-wave score with a near-perfect 9.50 in her Semifinal matchup against dark horse Kaitlin Maguire (USA). This experience went beyond wearing a jersey to Walsh and witnessed the beauty that PNG has to offer.
“Winning this event would have been better, but I’m not too worried with another event this year,” Walsh said. “This wave is so dreamy and perfect, it was great to have a longboard event here and really show that we can charge. Especially the locals -- Ruthy [Kurumuk] was just going for it on the big days. I’m really excited and just super afraid of waking up and this being all a dream. The push for women’s equality here and awareness of violence on women that’s now being recognized is just incredible."
The WSL would like to express its utmost gratitude to the nation of Papua New Guinea, the local support of Tupira and surrounding tribes who came to witness this historic event. A special thanks to Supreme Court Justice Nicholas Kirrwon and Andrew Abel, President/Co-founder of the Surfing Association of Papua New Guinea (SAPNG), for their relentless effort of realizing their dream to make PNG a surfing destination for future generations.
The next World Longboard Championships event will take place in Taiwan to determine the 2017 WLC World Champion. For more information, go to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the WSL App on your mobile device.
Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Final Results:
1 – Taylor Jensen (USA) 18.46 10,000 points
2 – Kai Sallas (HAW) 17.14 8,000 points
Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Women’s Final Results:
1 – Chloe Calmon (BRA) 15.77 10,000 points
2 – Crystal Walsh (HAW) 15.36 8,000 points
Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) 18.77 def. Antoine Delpero (FRA) 16.23
SF 2: Taylor Jensen (USA) 18.40 def. Adam Griffiths (GBR) 17.13
Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Women’s Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Crystal Walsh (HAW) 17.23 def. Kaitlin Maguire (USA) 13.17
SF 2: Chloe Calmon (BRA) 15.64 def. Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 13.30