The World Surf League (WSL) Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships has its finals day matchups set after a another massive day of competition that witnessed both men and women’s Quarterfinal bouts. Tupira continued to create opportunities for event spoilers to shine and that was the case once again after nearly all former World Champions were eliminated from PNG.
The upsets began early on after Crystal Walsh (HAW) dispatched 2015 WLC World Champion Rachael Tilly (USA) from competition in dramatic fashion. It was a rematch of the 2015 Jeep World Longboard Championships Final where Tilly claimed her first-ever Title, but a win here in PNG was not meant to be for the former champion.
Once tilly earned an excellent 8.27 (out of a possible 10) in response to Walsh’s lead changing 7.37, the former World Champion looked to be on her way to another Semifinal appearance. But, within the last minute, Walsh was granted one last opportunity to seize a win over Tilly and took full advantage with beautiful footwork and sweeping turns for a 9.00.
“I’ve met up with her a few times since then as well and never come out victorious so going into that heat I was a little nervous with that in the back of mind,” Walsh said. “But, I wasn’t going to let that throw my game. I could hear the commentator give the one-minute warning and I saw that wave coming, and it was a bomb. I just pulled it together and gave it all I had and it worked out — I’m so pumped.”
That trend continued into Quarterfinal, Heat 2, as Kaitlin Maguire (USA) defeated former World Champion Chelsea Williams (AUS) with a brilliant performance. Maguire trailed in need of a near-excellent score for most of the heat until a 7.17 lowered that requirement. But, the Californian wasn’t done yet and found a 5.97 in the dying minutes to overcome Williams and hold onto that lead until the final buzzer sounded.
“That was such a hard heat against Chelsea Williams, my nerves were out of control out there, but I held it together and I’m just ecstatic to be moving on,” Maguire said. “[Staying in the pocket] is just something I’ve always done, I wouldn’t say I’ve changed my style of surfing since I was young — I was taught by a lot of the guys to just stay as deep in the pocket as possible. Over time I’ve tried to put myself in the most critical section of the wave and not be out on the shoulder so that’s just something that comes natural to me these days.”
2016 WLC runner-up Chloe Calmon (BRA) put an end to the upsets occurring and locked in her Semifinal appearance on the WLC stage once again, this time over Alice Lemoigne (FRA).
Honolua Blomfield (HAW) followed suit as the higher-seeded surfer over Lindsay Steinriede (USA) with yet another 9.00 in this contest and now prepares for a big Semifinal bout with Calmon.
The men’s action got in the water right away after Blomfield’s performance and intense battles followed featuring some of the world’s best.
A world-class battle ensued to start the men’s Quarterfinals with Kai Sallas (HAW) pitted against Australian 2x World Champion Harley Ingleby (AUS). Sallas and Ingleby both got off to a quick start, though it was the Hawaiian who topped Ingleby with an 8.33. The two continued trading wave-for-wave until the final horn and it was Sallas who shut the door with a near-perfect 9.57 — earning the highest heat total of the day, a 17.90 (out of a possible 20).
“To beat a two-time World Champ, Harley’s one of my favorite surfer’s so to beat him and make it to the Semis makes it that much more special,” Sallas said. “I’ve always known I could [win a World Title], but it’s really hard when you only have one event a year. You have to be lucky on that day, that event, and that moment. I never really got along with China and a few other spots — I feel much better out here with this being my style of wave. If I walked up on any given day and saw these waves I’d be psyching to get out there. I feel like I’m surfing better than I ever have in my life.”
Antoine Delpero (FRA) added to his World Champion scalp collection with another phenomenal performance and eliminated 2x World Champion Piccolo Clemente (PER). Delpero got off to a quick start and continued to feel the flow of Tupira beneath his feet, something that earned him an 8.17 in the early goings. Clemente struggled to find a wave of excellent scoring potential until it was too late and Delpero sealed the heat with an 8.93 to end the dual.
But, it was an amazing performance from Adam Griffiths (GBR) who shut down Antoine’s brother, and event standout, Edouard Delpero (FRA). Griffiths has bettered his best result at a WLC with each passing heat after Round Three and is now into his first-ever Semifinal. A feel-good story all around, Griffiths lost his mother just three months ago and has surfed with more passion than ever here in PNG.
“I can’t believe it, to have made it this far is just an incredible feeling and I’m beyond excited to keep this momentum going,” Griffiths said. “I’ve been pretty relaxed, that heat was a bit stressful — my head was throbbing and felt like it was going to explode. Luckily I just about managed to keep it together, but now that I’ve made it this far I feel a lot of stress off me. Now it’s all about just enjoying the rest of my time here and this amazing experience.”
An all-American affair witnessed 2x World Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) display another showcase of his powerful surfing over the stylish Cole Robbins (USA). Robbins opted for a classic single-fin set up, but it wasn’t enough to top an on-fire Jensen who ran away with the heat after his 8.33 opener.
Tune in live for tomorrow’s final day of competition as the Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships crowns its inaugural champions. For more information, go to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the WSL App for updates on your mobile device.
Upcoming Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Semifinal Matchups:
SF 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) vs. Antoine Delpero (FRA)
SF 2: Taylor Jensen (USA) vs. Adam Griffiths (GBR)
Upcoming Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
SF 1: Crystal Walsh (HAW) vs. Kaitlin Maguire (USA)
SF 2: Chloe Calmon (BRA) vs. Honolua Blomfield (HAW)
Kumul PNG World Longboard Championships Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) 17.90 def. Harley Ingleby (AUS) 16.40
QF 2: Antoine Delpero (FRA) 17.10 def. Piccolo Clemente (PER) 14.36
QF 3: Adam Griffiths (GBR) 15.23 def. Edouard Delpero (FRA) 15.07
QF 4: Taylor Jensen (USA) 16.30 def. Cole Robbins (USA) 14.23
PNG World Longboard Championships Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Crystal Walsh (HAW) 16.37 def. Rachael Tilly (USA) 15.94
QF 2: Kaitlin Maguire (USA) 13.14 def. Chelsea Williams (AUS) 12.10
QF 3: Chloe Calmon (BRA) 16.07 def. Alice Lemoigne (REU) 13.17
QF 4: Honoula Blomfield (HAW) 16.93 def. Lindsay Steinriede (USA) 14.80