di Erika Scafuro
Despite it is necessary to wait until August for the first event of the 2023 Longboard Tour to start, in Bells Beach – Australia, we can already take a look at the surfers confirmed for the Championship. In fact, the selection process provides that those who have access to the events are 24 male and 24 female longboard surfers: top 8 competitors from the 2022 Longboard Tour, 14 surfers selected from the WSL Regions (with at least one qualifying event per region) and two event wildcards selected by the Tours and Competition Team.
Looking at the 2022 ranking, in the first Men’s eight positions we find, at the top, Harrison Roach: the Australian surfer took the crown of 2022 World Champion in a very short time having only started competing for the WSL Longboard Tour only in 2019. Will Kaniela Stewart be able to get the title of world champion this year? The number two in 2022 showed that he is determined to reach the podium, finishing every race in second or third place. Taylor Jensen, from United States, achieved victory in his own country’s event, the Vans Duct Tape Invitational, last August. Top performance for surfers ranked 4 to 8 in the world rankings: Declan Wyton; Ben Skinner; Kai Sallas, Cole Robbins, Justin Quintal and Kaimana Takayama who are tied with the same score.
These are, instead, the top female competitors from the 2022 Longboard Tour. Soleil Errico, a truly extraordinary talent as this young surfer, who grew up between Hawaii and Malibu, won her second WSL Longboard Championship title in 2022. The first time was in 2018, at the age of 17, one of the youngest female surfers ever to win the title. The number two of women’s ranking, the Hawaiian Kelis Kaleopaa won the Vans Duct Tape Invitational last August; a prodigy we have been able to see since his first WSL season, in 2020, when she won, at the age of just 16, the Noosa Longboard Open, the opening event of the 2020 WSL Longboard Tour. Sophia Culhane has also proved, since her entry into the WSL championship in 2020, that she is among the best longboard surfers in the world by achieving truly outstanding results. As well as her colleagues who follow her in the ranking: Honolua Blomfield; Chloe Calmon; Mason Schremmer; Rachael Tilly; Tully White and Kaitlin Mikkelsen who are tied with the same score.
It won’t be easy for the other 16 surfers taking part in the WSL Longboard Tour to beat the top surfers, but the championship events are always able to surprise us and give us unique moments as we watch these surfers gracefully glide along the world’s most enchanting waves .