Young Hawaiian Kelis Kaleopaa. Pic: Dave Gleeson @surfshotsnoosa
Much respected Californian surfer/shaper and proto logger Dane Perlee. Pic: Dave Gleeson @surfshotsnoosa
14-year-old Luluhia Blomfield Kane. Pic: Dave Gleeson @surfshotsnoosa
Round 2 winner Hayley Otto. Pic: Dave Gleeson @surfshotsnoosa
Central Coast’s Tom Payne. Pic: WSL / Tom Bennett
24 February 20
Surfers from Women’s Round 2 and Men’s 3 and 4 made light work of the shifting peaks with impressive performances as the second day of the 2020 Noosa Longboard Open presented by Thomas Surfboards continued in challenging conditions at Main Beach.
Surfing icon Joel Tudor (USA) hasn’t competed in Australia for nearly 20 years and the last time he did so, he won his third Noosa Festival of Surfing. Today he donned the WSL jersey once again and wound back the clock, taking a last-minute win over local favourite Zye Norris. Two-time World Longboard Champion Tudor surfed with flare on his way to a win and hopes to tack a result on to what is primarily a family holiday in Queensland.
“Although we’re not at First Point there are still waves and it’s fun which is all you can ask for,” Tudor said. “It’s cool to be here with my son’s. When I first came here, Julian Wilson was a tiny longboard phenom and I knew these waves are so good for learning. I came here awhile back with my eldest son Tosh and it’s when he kicked in his whole surfing thing, and now I’m pushing Judo into waves here in Noosa which is cool. I came here more so to do the family thing and then was offered a spot to compete and I couldn’t say no.”
Two of the most promising performances of Day 2 came from a pair of young Hawaiian’s in Haley Otto (HAW) and Kelis Kaleopaa (HAW). While Kaleopaa posted the highest heat total of Women’s Round 2, Otto, took an exciting win in the dying seconds of her heat to progress above 2018 World Longboard Champion Soleil Errico (USA). The duo is only a couple of a huge contingent of Hawaiian surfers, all making their mark on the Noosa Longboard Open and greater WSL Longboard Tour.
“It was awesome to get that heat win in the dying seconds,” Otto said. “I knew once I got back out I just had to stay calm and find another wave and I got it -- and then won the heat, so I’m really happy. Kelis (Kaleopaa) and I are on the same side of the draw so want to keep progressing in the same spot so we don't come up against each other too early. There is a big group of us travelling together from Waikiki and everyone is right behind each other which is so cool. There is a lot of support for one and other.”
The unofficial ‘Queen’ of this young bunch of Waikiki competitors is the two-time World Champion Kelia Moniz (HAW) who only just snuck through her Round 2 heat with a lower than average two-wave total on Day 2. After an on and off-year of competing in 2019 Moniz is committed to having a solid crack at another title in 2020 and is stoked to be surrounded by such an exciting group of up and coming Hawaiian competitors.
“I’m so proud to watch what this younger group is doing,” Moniz said. “It’s amazing to watch them all put on a good performance and not only represent Hawaii but Waikiki where we’re all from. They're all really good kids and at the end of the day, I think their performance adds to that so I’m really happy to be here supporting them. My heat today was a bit of a shocker but I luckily made it and got that round over with. I’m looking forward to moving forward and just surfing. I’m happy to be here in Noosa, it’s such a great place to start the year. I’m keen to commit this year and put in a solid effort and really try to win some more.”
Central Coast competitor Kai Ellice-Flint (AUS) has had his surfing style compared to the great Nat Young, an incredible compliment in the eyes of anyone in the know. This style has been grabbing appreciation from the judges as the wildcard has now won through three heats of his first WSL event. Ellice-Flint overcame local legend Josh Constable (AUS) to book himself a spot into Round 5 tomorrow.
“I’m really stoked to make that heat,” Ellice-Flint said. “The waves are tough at the moment, they are short and hard to find one that links up so there is a lot of luck involved. Coming up against Josh was really cool, he is one of my idols and I have so much respect for him so to surf a heat with him was an honour. I’m glad we both made it. I just want to keep going and keep my calm -- keep having fun.”
- REPORT FROM THE WSL