Kai Ellice-Flint, a Day 1 standout. All photos: WSL / Tom Bennett
Local styler Dane Wilson.
Luluhia Blomfield Kane young cousin of World Champ Honolua Blomfield shows promise in her first WSL event appearance.
Luluhia Blomfield Kane.
Zye Norris taking his opening heat.
23 February 20
The 2020 WSL Longboard Tour is officially underway, with the Men’s Round 1 and 2 completed along with the opening round of Women’s competition.
The opening day of the Noosa Longboard Open presented by Thomas Surfboards took place on Main Beach in one-to-two-foot clean waves.
Brasilian sensation Augusto Olinto set a high standard on the opening day of competition, posting the highest two-wave combination of the day, a 14.25 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Olinto was light and nimble on his feet in the small waves, riding the nose through critical sections with astonishing poise then finishing waves with beautiful cross-step carves. Olinto has progressed into Round 3, an impressive showing for his first major WSL event.
“This is my first time here to Noosa and I’m so stoked,” Olinto said. “This is a really beautiful place with some perfect waves so I’m very grateful to be surfing here. With all of the surfers here from around the world, there are amazing vibes – everyone is having a good time. There are so many amazing competitors here, so I know I need to bring my best surfing. I hope we move to the point because I have been practising on the rights and loving it. I don’t get too many right-hand points back at home, so it is nice to come to a place like this and get long perfect rights.”
All eyes were on the second heat of Women’s Round 1 as 14-year-old Hawaiian hopeful Luluhia Blomfield Kane (HAW) took to the water for her first WSL event appearance. The excitement around her heat wasn’t only because of the promise she shows but because she is the cousin and protégé’ to Reigning WSL World Longboard Champion Honolua Blomfield (HAW). Blomfield Kane showed her cousin's form has rubbed off on her as she took down her more senior opponents to progress into the second round. Blomfield Kane now moves a step closer to her dream of setting up a heat against her two-time World Champ cousin, Honolua.
“It feels nice to get through that heat,” Blomfield Kane said. “It’s awesome to be here in Noosa -- it’s such a beautiful place and there is a big crew from Hawaii here so it feels like home. Surfing in an event with Honolua is so cool -- she’s a huge inspiration to me and I’d love to surf a heat with her. She has been talking me through my heat strategy and giving me advice which is awesome especially because she won here last year. It’s great to have her here with me.”
Noosa local and Thomas Surfboard team rider Zye Norris (AUS) had an exciting first day of surfing in a WSL event, taking his opening heat of the day then hanging around to watch his wife, Sierra Lerback (USA), contest her Round 1 heat. Jye looked right at home in the low tide conditions zigging and zagging and functionally nose riding his way to shore to take the heat and progress into Round 3.
“This is my first-ever WSL event, my wife and I got wildcard spots from our sponsor Thomas Surfboards which is really cool,” Norris said. “My wife and I actually met at the Noosa Festival so it’s always exciting to be here and watch each other surf – I’m looking forward to her heat later today, the waves should be good. I don’t compete a whole lot but it’s great to compete at home in front of all your friends and family. This is always such a good time of year here in Noosa. It’s really great to have Thomas Surfboards get behind the event this year as well – it’s a great show of commitment from a local shaper.”
Norris’s wife Sierra Lerback (USA) was unable to continue the form of her husband, going down in the final heat of the day to Sophie Culhane and Lucy Small who both progressed into the next round of the competition.
Other newcomer standouts included Hiroka Yoshikawa (JPN), Luca Doble (AUS), Roisin Carolan (AUS), Francesca Rubegni (ITA), Summer Richley (USA), Kai Ellice-Flint (AUS)and John Michael Van Hohenstein (HAW) to name a few.
With an increase in swell expected and the event top seeds yet to hit the water, be sure to tune in tomorrow as the Noosa Longboard Open presented by Thomas Surfboards continues to storm through the draw on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
- REPORT FROM THE WSL