Englands Ben Skinner makes finals day.

El Salvador once again delivered for day 4 of the 2024 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Longboard Championship, with perfect conditions filling Surf City’s crown jewel, the right point of El Sunzal. Four-to-six foot lines allowed the world’s best longboarders to showcase their skills as they fought to progress into tomorrow’s Finals Day.

Japan was able to set themselves apart on top of the leaderboard, the only team to maintain all four surfers this deep into the draw. Both surfers on their men’s team, Taka Inoue and Kai Hamase, progressed to remain two of the four surfers in the Main Event Final, while Natsumi Taoka made it into the women’s Main Event Final. The 2018 Copper Medalist has been truly enjoying each of her heats, as well as her experience as a part of the team.

“I think teamwork is the best. It’s actually the first time that we’re all staying together in one big house,” Taoka said. “We’re eating meals all the time together, I think it’s worth it. With a 25-minute heat, I feel like I have a lot of time and I was happy to get two really good waves and then make a score. I try not to think about medals. I just try to get really good waves and then focus on performance.”

Hiroka Yoshikawa (JPN) was the only member of Team Japan to be sent to the repechage after an extremely tight women’s Main Event Round 4 heat that saw just 0.37 separating the top three surfers. The two advancing surfers, 2013 Silver Medalist Rachael Tilly (USA) and 2023 Copper Medalist Zoé Grospiron (FRA), had equal 13.00 heat totals, Tilly taking the win on the basis of the highest wave score of the heat, as well as the round, a 7.27. Though a last minute wave from Yoshikawa seemed like it might be enough to keep her in the Main Event, the veteran competitor was sent into repechage along with 2023 Silver Medalist Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER).

The men put their bodies on the line as multiple tight heats drove performance levels right to the end of the extremely long rides that El Sunzal was providing. Japan’s Taka Inoue finished two incredible rides right on the rocks even after Carlos Bahia (BRA) had smashed his board and body by committing to the final section, the pair winning the two heats of men’s Main Event Round 5. The 2023 Silver Medalist, Bahia is determined to go one better in 2024, and was confident after progressing into the Main Event Final, along with Inoue, Edouard Delpero (FRA) and Kai Hamase (JPN).

“First of all I want to thank El Salvador for putting on this great event at El Sunzal,” Bahia said. “I’m in search of that gold medal for me and also for Brazil. I was close enough to taste the gold last year, so that’s why I’m giving it my all now.”

Many big names either fell into repechage or were eliminated after a long day of tight battles. 2019 World Champion Benoit ‘Piccolo’ Clemente (PER) was eliminated early in the day by his protege Sebastian Cardenas (PER), who also fell out of the draw in his next heat. Meanwhile 2018 Gold Medalist and 2023 WSL Champion Kai Sallas (HAW) was sent to repechage by his protege Kaniela Stewart (HAW), who himself is now also in repechage. Sallas posted the highest heat total of the day, 16.50, after a blistering performance in Repechage Round 6 that saw him going blow-for-blow with two-time Silver Medalist Ben Skinner (ENG).

Both Brazilian women, Atalanta Batista and Luana Soares, and both Australian women Tully White and Kirra Molnar, were eliminated, along with event standout, 11-year-old Ginger Caimi (ITA).

The back-to-back defending champion, Alice Le Moigne (FRA), turned in the highest single wave score of the event in her Repechage Round 4 heat after soul-arching her way through a long, critical nose ride that earned her a near-perfect 9.77. Her two wave heat total was also the highest so far for the women, 16.44.

“I’m super happy to surf with that wind, because it was super hard for the girls to surf with the wind (yesterday) because there was so much bump,” Le Moigne said. “I had so much fun out there. I was just thinking about free-surfing, so it was super fun.”

Competition will continue Thursday April 25 at 7 a.m. local time El Salvador live on isasurf.org.