31 January 18
The WSL LQS divisions are surely stacked for the 2018 Australian Longboard Surfing Open. 23-year-old Natsumi Taoka from Japan is looking to back up last year’s win in Kingscliffe after a strong performance in the ISA world titles last month, but will be pushed all the way by current WSL Women's World Champion Honolua Blomfield. The 18-year-old Hawaiian topped off a stellar 2017 year by winning the world title in Taiwan in December.
There is a strong mixture of entries from Australian male surfers including rookies Frank Murphy and Australian ISA team members William Crowe and Declan Wyton. They have their sights on qualifying for the World Longboard Titles in 2019. They will be guided by fellow Australian's that have previously competed at the WLT including Tweed Heads surfer Dane Pioli, Coolum's Nic Jones and from Emerald Beach former dual World Champion (2009 & 2014) Harley Ingleby, who is the defending Volte Wetsuits Men's LQS champion.
International male competitors will be spearheaded by California's triple world champion Taylor Jensen. Jensen clinched his last world title after in a nail biting end to his 2017 season. He has battled with Ingleby for the Kingscliff honours since before 2012 sharing the wins between them since then. With a number of Japanese surfers and for the first time Portuguese competitors entered the standard of competition will be world class.
The Cancer Institute NSW Women's LQS and Volte Wetsuits Men's LQS begin competition on Wednesday 28 February. All enquires about entering these divisions have to be directed to the World Surf League in Coolangatta.
REPORT BY SEAN McKEOWN / ALSO