he long, clean 3-4 foot lines of El Sunzal were a warm greeting for competitors on the first morning of the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Longboard Championship (WLC). The event began with Men’s Main Round 1, while the first 8 heats of Women’s Main Round 1 rounded out the day.
All former men’s medalists in the draw managed to secure strong wins. Cole Robbins (USA), Benoit ‘Piccolo’ Clemente (PER), Antoine Delpero (FRA), Edouard Delpero (FRA) and Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA) each won their respective heats to progress in the Main Round.
Traditional stylists João Dantas (POR), Sam Christianson (RSA), Rogelio Esquievel Jr. (PHI) and Kai Hamase (JPN) also found heat wins with tight footwork and classic nose rides.
Carlos Bahia, Team Brazil Photo: Jersson Barboza
Carlos Bahia (BRA) used a series of searing dropknee cutbacks, combined with smooth hang-ten’s on the inside, to score a 7.67 on his first wave. Building from there with fast, critical nose rides on his second wave, Bahia collected the highest single wave score of the day (8.67) and the highest heat total of the day (16.34) with just two waves surfed.
Coming to El Salvador three or four times a year for the past nine years has clearly paid off for the veteran Brazilian competitor. “I want to thank all of the locals,” Bahia said. “I really appreciate the hospitality and how they welcome me with open arms. I love the point breaks here, especially El Sunzal. It’s the perfect wave for a single fin longboard.”
Familiar names were also successful in the Women’s division with Hiroka Yoshikawa (JPN) and Zoé Grospiron (FRA) setting the standard, along with 2018 silver medalist Chloe Calmon (BRA). Calmon posted the two highest single wave scores and the highest heat total of the day.
Sindy Portillo, Team El Salvador Photo: Jersson Barboza
The hopes of the El Salvador team were strengthened with Sindy Portillo (ESA) showing mastery of the nose to win her first heat. Arriving to huge support on the beach, the Las Flores local was ecstatic to be representing her country for the first time.
The prospect of the inclusion of longboarding in the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic Games is exciting news to all competitors, especially the host nation whose National Olympic Committee President Armando Bruni was present. “It would be very exciting to represent El Salvador in the Olympics,” Portillo said. “It’s emotional in and out of the water because all Salvadorans are supporting us. And it’s really fun. I’m very happy.”
ISA President Fernando Aguerre said:
“What a great first day of competition. The amazing waves of Surf City El Salvador have delivered once again and the great tradition of longboard surfing is clearly stronger than ever. So many nations are competing in the WLC for the very first time and there is a record number of competitors.
“With the huge success of shortboard surfing in the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, Los Angeles 2028 would be the ideal place for longboarding to debut.
“With surfing being the official sport of the state of California, I couldn’t think of a better place than Los Angeles for these athletes to display their talent and unique style on sport’s biggest stage.
“I can’t wait to see the exciting action continue tomorrow!”