Familiar Names Stake Their Ground in Opening Rounds of the Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl
Published on 31/08/2023

BELLS BEACH, Torquay, Victoria / Australia (Wednesday, August 30, 2023) – The 2023 World Surf League (WSL) Longboard Tour (LT) season resumed today with the opening day of competition for the inaugural Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl. The Opening Rounds for both Men’s and Women’s divisions were completed in wind-affected two-to-three foot swell that allowed for many standout moments.

Big names dominated the men’s Opening Round, with seasoned competitors Declan Wyton (AUS), Taylor Jensen (USA), Kaniela Stewart (HAW), Ben Skinner (GBR), Kai Sallas (HAW), Taka Inoue (JPN) and Edouard Delpero (FRA) each claiming wins.

The women’s Opening Round followed a similar trajectory with familiar names taking wins in each heat, including each of the three World Longboard Champions in the draw, Soleil Errico (USA), Honolua Blomfield (HAW) and Rachael Tilly (USA), and it was Tilly who found the highest heat total of the day for the women.

“I’m actually feeling really confident with this event,” Tilly said. “I feel like these are my type of waves to excel in and so I’ve just been trying to lend that confidence within to just go out there and not necessarily think too much about what other people are doing or what other people can do. With an opening, non-elimination round I just wanted to go out and have fun and surf relaxed.”

The highest single wave score of the day went to Natsumi Taoka (JPN), who was able to find an impressive 8.33 (out of a possible 10). In a heat filled with some of the most challenging conditions of the day, the veteran competitor was able to find a diamond in the rough, connecting multiple stylish nose-rides with a big finish right on the sand

While Taoka (JPN) was able to collect event wins in both of the Asia Regional Longboard Qualifying Series contests this season, she hadn’t won a LT heat since the 2022 Vans Duct Tape Invitational.

“This year in Huntington I was so disappointed in my result, I finished 17th, so I’m learning from my loss,” Taoka said. “This time I just tried to find the really good waves and then I got a really good one. I feel a bit lucky. I checked the waves and there was not so many good waves there, but I waited and then find a good wave is good for me.”

A runner-up finish at the Huntington Beach Longboard Classic has kicked off the best start to a season for three-time World Longboard Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) since his last World Title win in 2017. That form continued today in his Opening Round heat where he found the first excellent score of the event, an 8.00 (out of a possible 10), the highest single wave score of the men’s division. Jensen expertly navigated one of the biggest waves of the day with clean footwork and strong rail turns combined with multiple critical nose-rides

The possibility of a fourth World Title to equal the current record set by his father-in-law Nat Young, who collected three Bells Beach titles in his career, is very much on the 39-year-old’s mind.

“I mean it’s a pretty huge opportunity,” Jensen said. “Not many guys have ever even stood there and been able to approach it. I accept that challenge, I’ll put everything into it, you know, it’d be a hell of a way to cap things off and do something that hasn’t been done since I’ve been competing. I’ve watched Colin (McPhillips) get three, I’ve watched Joel (Tudor) get three. That would be pretty special to get four and move out of that pack.”

Landen Smales (AUS) used the knowledge that took him to multiple division wins at the 2023 Australian Indigenous Surf Titles, also held at Bells Beach, to take the win in Opening Round Heat 2 over seasoned LT competitors Tony Silvagni (USA) and Kaimana Takayama (USA).

Smales was the only competitor in the men’s Opening Round to take a heat win over the top seeds. The 16-year-old wildcard surfed an intelligent heat, catching just two waves to best the veterans.

“It feels so good,” Smales said. “I’m so stoked to take the win. I love being here and connecting with all the spirits.”

​​Bells Beach is a place of cultural significance to the Wadawurrung People, traditionally known as Djarrak. To honor and respect the local community, the Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl began with a traditional Welcome to Country, which was attended by the WSL athletes, staff and fans ahead of the beginning of the event.

For more of today’s highlights, results and information from the Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

The next call for competition will be tomorrow, Thursday August 31, at 7:15am AEST for a potential 7:35am start.

Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Declan Wyton (AUS) 11.50 DEF. Matias Maturano (PER) 11.37, Steven Sawyer (RSA) 8.00
HEAT 2: Landen Smales (AUS) 10.27 DEF. Tony Silvagni (USA) 9.30, Kaimana Takayama (USA) 6.03
HEAT 3: Taylor Jensen (USA) 14.33 DEF. John Michael Van Hohenstein (HAW) 6.50, Samuel Dunton (AUS) 5.50
HEAT 4: Kaniela Stewart (HAW) 13.06 DEF. Kai Ellice-Flint (AUS) 12.06, Jack Tyro (NZL) 7.10
HEAT 5: Ben Skinner (GBR) 11.54 DEF. Cole Robbins (USA) 10.80, Ben Considine (AUS) 10.07
HEAT 6: Kai Sallas (HAW) 12.17 DEF. Chase Lieder (USA) 7.70, Richie Cravey (USA) 7.16
HEAT 7: Taka Inoue (JPN) 9.24 DEF. Kevin Skvarna (USA) 7.70, Nicolás Andrade (ESP) 4.23
HEAT 8: Edouard Delpero (FRA) 11.57 DEF. Max Weston (AUS) 11.26, Rogelio Jr Esquievel (PHL) 9.00

Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Opening Round Results:

HEAT 1: Kaitlin Mikkelsen (USA) 11.40 DEF. Sophia Culhane (HAW) 11.03, Crystal Hulett (RSA) 7.97
HEAT 2: Soleil Errico (USA) 11.17 DEF. Luana Soares (BRA) 9.77, Molly Powell (AUS) 4.43
HEAT 3: Honolua Blomfield (HAW) 11.60 DEF. Lucy Small (AUS) 7.13, Kirra Molnar (AUS) 6.53
HEAT 4: Kelis Kaleopaa (HAW) 10.47 DEF. Kaede Inoue (JPN) 9.07, Liv Stokes (CAN) 8.20
HEAT 5: Natsumi Taoka (JPN) 13.26 DEF. Chloe Calmon (BRA) 9.97, Avalon Gall (USA) 8.84
HEAT 6: Rachael Tilly (USA) 13.34 DEF. Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER) 8.77, Maya Glasenapp (REU) 5.37
HEAT 7: Mason Schremmer (USA) 10.40 DEF. Zoe Grospiron (FRA) 9.87, Roisin Carolan (AUS) 6.33
HEAT 8: Alice Lemoigne (FRA) 12.17 DEF. Keani Canullo (HAW) 8.50, Tully White (AUS) 8.40

Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Elimination Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Tony Silvagni (USA) vs. Jack Tyro (NZL)
HEAT 2: Cole Robbins (USA) vs. Chase Lieder (USA)
HEAT 3: Rogelio Jr Esquievel (PHL) vs. Samuel Dunton (AUS)
HEAT 4: Steven Sawyer (RSA) vs. Nicolás Andrade (ESP)
HEAT 5: Kevin Skvarna (USA) vs. Matias Maturano (PER)
HEAT 6: Kaimana Takayama (USA) vs. Max Weston (AUS)
HEAT 7: Richie Cravey (USA) vs. Ben Considine (AUS)
HEAT 8: John Michael Van Hohenstein (HAW) vs. Kai Ellice-Flint (AUS)

Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Elimination Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Sophia Culhane (HAW) vs. Kaede Inoue (JPN)
HEAT 2: Maria Fernanda Reyes (PER) vs. Maya Glasenapp (REU)
HEAT 3: Chloe Calmon (BRA) vs. Lucy Small (AUS)
HEAT 4: Avalon Gall (USA) vs. Roisin Carolan (AUS)
HEAT 5: Tully White (AUS) vs. Molly Powell (AUS)
HEAT 6: Luana Soares (BRA) vs. Keani Canullo (HAW)
HEAT 7: Zoe Grospiron (FRA) vs. Crystal Hulett (RSA)
HEAT 8: Kirra Molnar (AUS) vs. Liv Stokes (CAN)

Watch LIVE: Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl

The Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic holds a competition window from Wednesday, August 30, through Saturday, September 2, 2023. Once called on, the competition will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app.

The 2023 Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic presented by Rip Curl is proudly supported by Bioglan, Visit Victoria, Surf Coast Shire, GWM, and Rip Curl.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

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