Tully White. Photos: Tommy Pierucki
Steven Sawyer. Photos: Tommy Pierucki
21 September 23
Beautiful waves, fantastic surfing, eliminations, jubilations – it was a long and sleepless night trying to keep track of it all from the other side of the planet – so here’s the full run-down and results direct from the WSL:
Eliminations Ensue at Surf City El Salvador Longboard Classic Presented by Corona
EL SUNZAL, La Libertad, El Salvador (Wednesday, September 20, 2023)- The first batch of eliminations were dealt today at the Surf City El Salvador Longboard Classic Presented by Corona, Stop No. 3 on the World Surf League (WSL) Longboard Tour. Clean, two-to-four-foot conditions provided a beautiful platform to finish the men’s Opening Round, Heats 7 - 8, and the men’s and women’s pressure-packed Elimination Rounds. Longboard Championship Top 8 frontrunners held firm in the face of elimination to keep their World Title hopes intact.
Kaniela Stewart Qualifies For Longboard Championship Top 8, Avoids Elimination Scare
Current World No. 2 Kaniela Stewart (HAW) narrowly missed out on an Opening Round victory yesterday, but recovered brilliantly today against local wildcard threat Amado de Jesus Alvarado (SLV). Stewart’s focus was palpable, knowing the task at hand. With his Elimination Round win, the 2022 World Title runner-up is back in the World Title showdown once more.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re against, anything can happen, and of course, he’s a local here and super used to the wave, so he’s very, very dangerous,” said Stewart. “I just tried to stay in my own zone and find the right waves. It’s a lot of pressure, but I just want to focus on the next heat and not really focus down the line. We made it to Malibu, that’s always a good thing, but just keep your head down and just get better.”
Fresh Faces John Micahel Hohenstein and Rogelio Jr Esquievel Shine Under Pressure
Longboard Tour newcomer John Michael Hohenstein (HAW) put on a dominant display against Australia’s Ben Considine in their Elimination Round, Heat 8 dual. Hohenstein’s ability on the nose through critical sections followed by stylish turns turned in a 15.50 (out of a possible 20) heat total, an Elimination Round best. He now looks to keep his stunning form in the Round of 16.
“Huntington was a little tricky, and Bells was two heats of confusing conditions, so I’m happy to surf El Salvador, a nice right-hand wave, and I’m stoked I made it,” said Hohenstein. “My first heat with Taka (Inoue) and JR (Esquievel), the tide was a little higher, so we were sitting at the point more. Now that the tide dropped, I knew it’d be a little bit faster, found a few, and was stoked for the win. I just want to go out there and have fun, and try to soak it all in for my first time on the Longboard Tour.”
Fellow Tour newcomer Rogelio Jr Esquievel (PHL) found another level in his competitive surfing today, putting on a dynamic showing of nose-riding and flow against two-time WSL Longboard Champion Piccolo Clemente (PER).
Before Elimination Round action got underway, Edouard Delpero (FRA) and Taka Inoue (JPN) debuted brilliantly to take respective Heat wins in the Opening Round. Joining them in the Round of 16 are world Title hopefuls Tony Silvagni (USA), Richie Cravey (USA), former WSL Longboard Champion Steven Sawyer (RSA), Kaimana Takayama (USA), and Kevin Skvarna (USA), who all thrived under Elimination Round pressure.
Chloe Calmon Steps Closer to Longboard Championship Top 8
Following men’s Elimination Round action, the women’s first eliminations ensued and clutch performances kept World Title contenders in the hunt for their spot in the Longboard Championship Top 8.
Multiple World Title runner-up Chloe Calmon (BRA) currently sits at No. 5 on the rankings and has her sights set on making it back to the World Title showdown. The Brazilian’s poise under pressure was on full display against local wildcard Sindy Portillo (SLV) in Elimination Round, Heat 1. Now, Calmon heads into the Round of 16 and inches closer to Longboard Championship Top 8 qualification.
“The Latin energy is really nice and really warm, similar to Brazil, and everyone always has a smile with open arms,” said Calmon. “I feel we are all a big family, the Americas, so it feels really special to be competing close to home. Sindy [Portillo] is such a sweetheart and she surfs really good, and makes the whole country proud. It’s nice to see new talents coming from Central America. They are putting down a new path for future surfers and inspiring them, and hopefully we have more Latin surfers on the Longboard Tour.”
Taoka Posts Event’s Best Performance So Far in the Face of Elimination
Longboard Tour veterans Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER) and Natsumi Taoka(JPN) put on masterful performances, accruing the event’s best performances so far. Taoka bested Fernanda Reyes’, Heat 6, performance in the last Heat of the day with a single-wave score of 8.50 (out of a possible 10) and a heat total of 15.90. Taoka is in a must-win situation to qualify for the Longboard Championship Top 8, and today she showed she’s ready for the task at hand.
“I waited a long time for the last wave with priority, and the wave is just amazing, it’s perfect,” said Taoka. “It’s my first time here, and I watched the ISA contest, but this time I’m so happy I’m here and the wave is pumping. I just tried to focus on my riding in that heat. I’m not thinking about Malibu and just focused on heat by heat.”
Avalon Gall (USA) is currently in a three-way tie for No. 7 on the rankings and made moves to put herself ahead of her competitors today. She now prepares for an all-important Round of 16 dual to keep her World Title hopes intact.
Also notching clutch Elimination Round victories were current No. 9 Zoe Grospiron (FRA), Longboard Tour veteran Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA), Australia’s Tully White (AUS), and Mason Schremmer (USA).
Event organizers will convene at 7:30 a.m. CST for a possible 8:05 a.m. CST start to competition.
Women’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Chloe Calmon (BRA) 14.90 DEF. Sindy Portillo (SLV) 10.43
HEAT 2: Zoe Grospiron (FRA) 11.66 DEF. Liv Stokes (CAN) 10.87
HEAT 3: Mason Schremmer (USA) 12.76 DEF. Frankie Seely (USA) 8.77
HEAT 4: Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA) 11.27 DEF. Luana Soares (BRA) 7.83
HEAT 5: Tully White (AUS) 11.50 DEF. Lindsay Steinriede (USA) 11.20
HEAT 6: Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER) 15.73 DEF. Keani Canullo (HAW) 3.50
HEAT 7: Avalon Gall (USA) 14.50 DEF. Crystal Hulett (RSA) 12.27
HEAT 8: Natsumi Taoka (JPN) 15.90 DEF. Kirra Molnar (AUS) 12.63
Men’s Elimination Round Results:
HEAT 1: Kaniela Stewart (HAW) 12.53 DEF. Amado De Jesus Alvarado (SLV) 9.46
HEAT 2: Richie Cravey (USA) 10.74 DEF. Chase Lieder (USA) 9.36
HEAT 3: Tony Silvagni (USA) 13.33 DEF. Dorian Quesada Torres (CRC) 8.40
HEAT 4: Steven Sawyer (RSA) 12.50 DEF. Nicolás Andrade (ESP) 9.87
HEAT 5: Cole Robbins (USA) 11.10 DEF. Tony Silvagni (USA) 11.10, Chase Lieder (USA) 7.76
HEAT 6: Ben Skinner (GBR) 11.87 DEF. Richie Cravey (USA) 8.77, Nicolás Andrade (ESP) 7.10
HEAT 7: Edouard Delpero (FRA) 14.00 DEF. Kevin Skvarna (USA) 9.77, Max Weston (AUS) 8.80
HEAT 8: Taka Inoue (JPN) 14.97 DEF. Rogelio Jr Esquievel (PHL) 14.10, John Michael Van Hohenstein (HAW) 12.10
Women’s Elimination Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Kelis Kaleopaa (HAW) vs. Maya Glasenapp (FRA)
HEAT 2: Mason Schremmer (USA) vs. Avalon Gall (USA)
HEAT 3: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) vs. Natsumi Taoka (JPN)
HEAT 4: Alice Lemoigne (FRA) vs. Zoe Grospiron (FRA)
HEAT 5: Soleil Errico (USA) vs. Roisin Carolan (AUS)
HEAT 6: Rachael Tilly (USA) vs. Tully White (AUS)
HEAT 7: Sophia Culhane (HAW) vs. Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER)
HEAT 8: Chloe Calmon (BRA) vs. Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA)
Men’s Elimination Round of 16 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Kaniela Stewart (HAW) vs. Kai Ellice-Flint (AUS)
HEAT 2: Edouard Delpero (FRA) vs. Kevin Skvarna (USA)
HEAT 3: Kai Sallas (HAW) vs. Kaimana Takayama (USA)
HEAT 4: Ben Skinner (GBR) vs. Richie Cravey (USA)
HEAT 5: Taylor Jensen (USA) vs. John Michael Van Hohenstein (HAW)
HEAT 6: Taka Inoue (JPN) vs. Rogelio Jr Esquievel (PHL)
HEAT 7: Declan Wyton (AUS) vs. Steven Sawyer (RSA)
HEAT 8: Tony Silvagni (USA) vs. Cole Robbins (USA)