ISA World Longboard Championships, January 2018
The 2018 ISA World Longboard Championships have just finished in Riyuewan, Wanning CHINA. Riyue Bay, Wanning is located on the beautiful Hainan Island. If you didn’t know better, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Hawaii when you step onto many of the white sanded, crystal clear blue watered, coconut tree lined beaches.
In the lead up to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo where surfing is to be included for the historic first time, there is a lot of momentum and increased focus on surfing as a sport in many countries now that it is an Olympic Sport.
While only small waves for the majority of the contest, there was some amazing surfing from both the men and women. Riyue Bay has a fantastic left hand point break plus a number of beach breaks along the bay. Contests are generally always held on the Point and that was the location for the entire event just concluded. With over 70 athletes from 22 nations it was the biggest ISA World Longboard Championships to date.
The ISA Contest format is unique in that there are two draws. There is the main draw and then there is the repercharge draw. Once someone is knocked out of the main draw, they are delegated to the Repercharge Rounds. If knocked out of the Repercharges, then that athlete is knocked out of the contest. This is unique in that it gives all surfers a second chance to compete. It also enables someone to be beaten once, dropped back into the Repercharges but still win the overall title.
The Main Round goes through to the 4 man final and the Repercharge Heats goes through to that 4 man final. The top two places then in each draw final then progress to the overall final or Grand Final.
There is also the Aloha Cup where 8 Countries surf in a Team event. The team event is a tag team style event with 2 semi finals and then the final.
The event was largely contested in small knee to waist high waves with the judging criteria heavily swayed towards traditional longboard surfing which was perfectly suited to the small conditions. This meant there was a lot of hang fives, hang tens with surfers ideally cross stepping up and down the length of the board to maximise point scoring potential together with drop knee turns and drop knee cut backs all combined with style and flow and using the waves effectively and where possible linking the sections as far through as possible to the beach.
Finals Day of the 2018 ISA World Longboard Championships saw a bump in the swell with size rising to waist to chest high for the womens final and by the time the mens final started, sets were getting towards shoulder high. This saw another level of surfing in both finals with some excellent surfing. The lead changed numerous times in both and they were exciting finals to watch, especially the mens final where there was a Hawaiian, Peruvian and the two competitors from the USA. The Hawaiian, Kai Salles, dominated being very selective in his waves and posting very high scores from the first wave he got virtually as the buzzer sounded for the heat start. Everyone was in catch up mode from then and it became a tough battle for the minor placings. It was excellent surfing and a fantastic event.
The ISA has a full schedule still to go for the remainder of 2018 after the completion of the ISA World Longboard Championships. The ISA World Surfing Games, the open shortboard ISA World Championships, will be held in September back in Japan (but a different location to the 2017 ISA World Junior Championships that were in Japan last September). The ISA Paddle World Championships comprising SUP and Prone Paddle events will be held in November/December in Brazil. The ISA World Junior Championships and the Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championships are yet to be announced for both dates and location. More information can be found on these upcoming events at the ISA’s website