Australian Declan Wynton. Pic: Sean Evans
Peru’s Lucas Garrido Lecca. Pic: Sean Evans
Kiwi Hugh Ritchie. Pic: Sean Evans
Young Australian Tully White. Pic: Tim Hain
Argentinian Franciso Surfiel Gil. Pic: Tim Hain
21 January 18
Hainan China, Jan 20. Report from the ISA: An exceptional display of talent and style for the opening day of the ISA World Longboard Titles in small conditions at Riyue Bay.
USA's Kevin Skvarna and Hawaii's Honolua Blomfield and Kai Sallas were the standout performers, all attaining wave scores in the 9-point range out of 10.
Team China impressed the visiting international delegations and put their progression and promise on display for the world to see. Guo Shujuan took one big step for Chinese Surfing and won the first-ever heat for a Chinese competitor at an ISA World Championship.
Skvarna's consistent, traditional approach proved ideal for the tiny running walls at the Point. Between his two heats on day 1, he impressively scored three waves in the 9-point range.
Blomfield, the 2013 ISA Junior Gold Medalist and 2017 WSL Champion, asserted herself as a leading contender for Gold in the Women's, gracefully connecting sections with multiple hang 10s to earn the highest women's total with 17.73.
The women's division proved to pack a powerful punch with Chloe Calmon (BRA) and Tory Gilkerson (USA) respectively earning the second and third highest women heat totals of the day with 16.83 and 16.47.
Following Skvarna as the top performers in the Men's were Hawaii's Kai Sallas with a 17.93 heat total and the English duo, Ben Howey and Ben Skinner with heat totals of 14.93 and 14.33.
Saturday morning's competition got underway with increased swell and excellent conditions at the long, left-hand point break of Riyue Bay. Waves in the knee to waist high range with excellent form curved into the bay and allowed the record-breaking 71 athletes from 22 nations to put their talent fully on display.
The local Team China stood out with unmatched emotion and solid surfing, demonstrating the talent that this emerging surfing nation possesses. China's Guo Shujuan won her heat and Huang Wei advanced through his Round 1 heat with strong support from the local audience.
"I am really proud to be on the Chinese team," said Guo Shujuan. "This is my first time participating in the ISA World Longboard Surfing Championship, so I am so excited to win this heat.
"Representing my country means a lot to me. When I first found out that this world championship would be held here in Hainan I was so excited. I feel proud of myself to advance through my first heat.
"My goal is to show the world how far Surfing in China has come. We have been working really hard to keep up with the whole world and show them the talent that we have."
Adding to the inspiring stories unfolding during the first day of competition, South Africa's Alfonzo Peters put on a solid performance and advanced through the first round of competition. Peters expressed his stoke upon advancing through his Round 1 heat and shared his story of how surfing has changed his life.
"To start the competition was amazing. We have been here for three days and the anticipation was building. I think it's amazing we have small, clean waves, what longboards are made for - it's perfect. Surfing for my country feels amazing. It is the biggest achievement that you can get in sports. I feel proud to fly that flag high.
"I come from a broken family and Surfing changed my world. It gave me a life. My father passed away at a young age when I was little, and from there I became a troubled teen. I started running away from home, running away from school. I eventually ended up on the streets, committing petty crime and getting into trouble. I had nothing to care for and nothing to live for until I started surfing. Surfing made me want to wake up every day, get in the water, and get off the streets. Surfing is what I was looking for in life and it's been all great from there."
REPORT BY THE ISA – LOOK FOR DAILY WRAPS HERE