Soleil Errico (USA) and Kai Sallas (HAW) claimed the 2023 Longboard World Titles with victories at the Original Sprout Malibu Longboard Championships Presented by Tractor Beverage Co., stop No. 4 on the World Surf League (WSL) Longboard Tour. Clean, two-to-three-foot surf provided a beautiful canvas for the world’s best longboarders to battle for the Longboard World Titles.
Soleil Errico Claims Back-to-Back World Longboard Titles At Home In Malibu
Today, Soleil Errico (USA) claimed her historic third World Title at her home break of Malibu. Errico won her first World Title in 2018 at the Taiwan Open Longboard Championships. Last season she earned her second Title here at Malibu. With her win today, Errico now joins a shortlist of three-time WSL Longboard Champions including Honolua Blomfield (HAW), Taylor Jensen (USA), Cori Schumacher (USA), Rusty Keaulana (HAW), Joel Tudor (USA), and Colin McPhillips (USA).
“It’s so insane, this is my home, and my heart and soul is here,” said Errico. “I appreciate everyone’s support. I have the best family ever, it’s insane. It doesn’t feel real. It’s been a really long day and weekend. It’s been weird, the fog kind of messed everyone up, but I just tried to stay strong mentally through it and trust the process. I’m really happy.”
Errico entered the Original Sprout Malibu Longboard Championships Presented by Tractor Beverage Co. ranked No. 2 and had to make it past Sophia Culhane (HAW) in order to join Kaleopa’a in the Title Match. Title Match 1 kicked off with a brilliant exchange, the nod going to Errico who earned a 7.17 (out of a possible 10). Errico utilized her priority at the halfway point in the heat to earn a 6.33 backup and force Kaleopa’a’s requirement to an excellent 8.00. The ocean did not provide anything of substance for Kaleopa’a to answer back and Errico led the Title Match 1-0.
In Title Match 2, Errico picked up right where she left off and earned a 7.50 for an early lead over Kaleopa’a. Errico then added an excellent 8.33 at the halfway mark. With just a few minutes left, Kaleopa’a got herself out of the combination situation by earning a 7.17 but she still needed a big score to take the lead. Errico emerged victorious out of Title Match 2 and was crowned the 2023 WSL Longboard Champion at home for the second-straight year.
“It took a lot of hard work,” said Errico. “I worked very hard. I mean that’s just how it goes. You need to work hard to achieve your dreams. Sometimes you can work as hard as you can and not know if it’s going to happen but it happened. I want to thank my mom, my dad, of course CJ Nelson. I’m really thankful he’s in my corner and riding this journey with me.”
Sallas Claims Maiden World Longboard Title
Today marks Kai Sallas’ (HAW) maiden World Title, over nearly two decades in the making. After a sensational year on the 2023 WSL Longboard Tour including a massive win at Bells Beach, Sallas entered Malibu ranked No. 2. He was able to move past Ben Skinner (GBR) in Match 4 before meeting his good friend and apprentice, Kaniela Stewart (HAW), in the Title Match.
“I’ve been doing this for so long, and all I can say is finally,” said Sallas. “I’ve been trying for over 20 years, and to add my name to that list of Hawaiin World Champions is a dream come true. I’m very proud. I want to thank my wife and my kids. They always put up with my moods at contest time, and they’re always here supporting me. They came with me to a lot of the contests this year, thank you.”
The first of the three bouts in the Title Match went to Stewart who put on a showcase of style and poise on the nose. Steward accrued a 15.77 heat total and the win despite Sallas’ near-perfect 9.57. But, Sallas struck back in their second duel opening up with two key scores to put pressure on Stewart. Stewart couldn’t find a score of substance to match Sallas, and the World Title came down to a third, winner-take-all battle.
The third Title Match started slow but gave way to fireworks. In a back-to-back exchange, Stewart posted an excellent 8.67 and Sallas an excellent 8.60. Sallas then took the lead with a backup score of 6.83. Stewart’s last attempt fell short, and Sallas was confirmed as the 2023 Longboard World Champion.
“I’m standing next to my sparring partner back home (Stewart),” said Sallas. “This guy inspires me more than anyone. I believe he’s going to be the greatest longboarder of all time, and I’m going to be in his corner. So to win this against him is better than I ever dreamed.”
Waikiki’s Own Kaleopa’a and Stewart Finish Runner-up
Kaleopa’a finished the year as the World Title runner-up for the second-consecutive time today. The 18-year-old, Waikiki, competitor put on a showcase in 2023 with a win at Huntington Beach and runner-up finish in El Salvador to secure the No. 1 rank heading into Malibu. Now, Kaleopa’a prepares for another run at her maiden World Title in 2024.
One of longboarding’s modern-era icons, Stewart, showcased his world-class potential en route to becoming the World Title runner-up for a second straight year. Stewart entered Malibu as the No. 1 ranked men’s surfer after winning in Huntington Beach and El Salvador this season. The Waikiki competitor ultimately fell to mentor and shaper, Sallas, in the third and final Title Match and now looks to make history of his own in 2024.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
Women’s Title Match Results:
HEAT 1: Soleil Errico (USA) 13.50 DEF. Kelis Kaleopaa (HAW) 7.73
HEAT 2: Soleil Errico (USA) 15.83 DEF. Kelis Kaleopaa (HAW) 11.90
Men’s Title Match Results:
HEAT 1: Kaniela Stewart (HAW) 15.77 DEF. Kai Sallas (HAW) 14.57
HEAT 2: Kai Sallas (HAW) 14.93 DEF. Kaniela Stewart (HAW) 11.10
HEAT 3: Kai Sallas (HAW) 15.43 DEF. Kaniela Stewart (HAW) 14.24
Women’s Match 4 Results:
HEAT 1: Soleil Errico (USA) 14.66 DEF. Sophia Culhane (HAW) 13.77
Men’s Match 4 Results:
HEAT 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) 17.87 DEF. Ben Skinner (GBR, above) 17.83
Women’s Match 3 Results:
HEAT 1: Sophia Culhane (HAW) 17.50 DEF. Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 16.33
Men’s Match 3 Results:
HEAT 1: Ben Skinner (GBR) 15.90 DEF. Taylor Jensen (USA) 15.24
Women’s Match 2 Results:
HEAT 1: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 14.50 DEF. Mason Schremmer (USA) 11.37, Alice Lemoigne (FRA) 10.97
Men’s Match 2 Results:
HEAT 1: Ben Skinner (GBR) 14.13 DEF. Tony Silvagni (USA) 12.90, Declan Wyton (AUS) 11.60
Women’s Match 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Mason Schremmer (USA) 13.73 DEF. Rachael Tilly (USA) 10.54, Chloe Calmon (BRA) 10.40
Men’s Match 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Tony Silvagni (USA) 11.23 DEF. Edouard Delpero (FRA) 8.37, Rogelio Jr Esquievel (PHL) 7.17
Next Stop: Corona Saquarema Pro Presented by Banco do Brasil