The world’s best surfers on traditional 9-foot plus boards have arrived in Hainan Island for the annual GoPro World Longboard Championships, China hosted by Wanning (WLC). The event runs from December 5-12th of December at Hainan Island off the far south coast of China.
The event takes place at Riyue Bay, a consistent reef/point break lying on Hainan Island’s east coast approximately 20 kilometers from the major town of Wanning.
Set in the surrounds of lush tropical forests, the warm waters and quality performance waves have proved well worthy of hosting the world’s best longboard surfers for the past three years and across Men and Women a lucrative $US100 000 prize money and the chance to take the prestigious ASP World Longboard Title for 2014.
The field includes 34 surfers in both the men’s and women’s divisions with surfers from over 12 countries in attendance.
Kelia Moniz (HAW), reigning two-time ASP World Longboard Champion has been in China for a few days to get a feel for the waves, the water and her boards. Moniz is eyeing her third straight Title, but insists she’s here to surf to her best and have fun and modestly talked up the other athletes in the draw.
“Of course winning three in a row has entered my mind!” Moniz said. “We only have one event to decide the Champion and everyone wants to win, but for me I’m just looking forward to having fun and surfing. I don’t do any events besides this one and I come here and see cute new faces and then think — ‘oh you really surf good too.’ Then there’s the girls I see every year and all the girls are better and more focused to take the win.”
Harley Ingleby (AUS), 2009 ASP World Longboard Champion was voted by his peers to be the Longboard Tour’s Surfer’s Representative and has worked closely with the ASP to make this event happen this year.
“It’s a great location here and now with this event locked in for three years we can start looking at potentially adding another event or two to our tour which would be unreal,” Ingleby said. “I finished third last year and I’m hoping to go two spots better this year and get another Title.”
Taylor Jensen (USA) won back-to-back ASP World Longboard Titles in 2011 and 2012, but finished 9th last year after he was eliminated in a tough back and forth Round 5 battle against 2010 World Longboard Champion Duane Desoto (HAW). Jensen is fresh off a win at the Taiwan Open of Surfing LQS and is hoping his good form could see him win another Title.
“I’ve been here a few more days than the rest of the guys and gotten acclimated and my daughter isn’t jet lagged anymore which helps me get some more sleep,” Jensen said. “I had one day of good surf before everyone else arrived which was a help too. Winning the Taiwan Open a couple of weeks ago was good preparation, especially since it was a left that’s really similar to the break here — that really helped me get ready for this event because I don’t get to go left very often.”
Chloe Calmon (BRA) finished equal 5th place at last year’s event after being eliminated by eventual runner-up Chelsea Williams (AUS) in the Quarterfinals. Calmon has come to China two weeks early to prepare for this year’s event and is fit and fired up for the event to commence.
“It’s always good to be back in China!” Calmon said. “I’ve been here for two weeks, I always like to come early to a contest to get rid of the jet lag and get used to the waves. Last year was an incredible event — I improved so much and I’ve just tried to do the same strategy this year and hope that I can keep improving.”
Darci Liu (CHN) is one of Hainan’s most renowned surfers and this year is competing in her fourth WLC in China. Liu has hinted that this could potentially be her last ever event as she’s stepping aside for other local talented surfers to have some opportunities at the elite level.
“This is my fourth time competing in this event and I feel so happy and blessed for everything that surfing and this event has done for my life!” Liu said. “I see so many talented girl surfers from Hainan and China coming up in the ocean and I truly feel that they deserve an opportunity. My Mom is here this year to watch me compete for the first time which is very exciting for me.”
The GoPro World Longboard Championships China, hosted by Wanning will run from Dec 5 – 12. News, live scores, results, images and video highlights available here.