Team USA wins the 2018 ISA World Longboard Surfing Championship at Riyue Bay, China.
With an impressive three individual medals, the USA nabbed the top spot above Peru in second place and Hawaii in third.
Tory Gilkerson’s gold medal in the Women’s Division and Tony Silvagni’s and Kevin Skvarna’s respective bronze and copper medals in the Men’s Division solidified Team USA’s position atop the leaderboard, marking their first ISA Longboard Team Champion victory.
“I’m so stoked to win, not only for myself but for my team,” said Gilkerson. “It’s amazing to get the team gold. We have great camaraderie and are all super supportive of each other. It’s like a team of brothers and sisters. We’ve had a great all-around performance. The Team Gold is the icing on the cake.
“There have been some ups and downs this week. There were a few days of small waves and I had a stomach bug, but it’s all about having fun and enjoying our time. ISA events are so cool because the teams get together and support each other.”
Team Peru followed USA in the silver medal position, led by a strong individual silver medal performance by Benoit “Piccolo” Clemente. With Hawaii in the bronze position.
Kai Sallas scorched straight through the Men’s Main Event Rounds and continued his dominance in the grand final, marking the highest wave score of the event with 9.87 in the dying minutes to leave no doubt of his elite status in the sport of Longboarding. Sallas’ Gold, paired with his teammate Honolua Blomfield’s Copper, propelled Team Hawaii to an improbable Team Bronze, despite only have three out of a maximum four competitors on their squad.
“I am so proud to win against such great surfers,” said Sallas. “The waves were perfect out there. I wish we would have brought another guy because we have so many good surfers in Hawaii. Hopefully next year we get a full team to go for Gold. To sum up the week, it was such a fun trip.”
History was made in the Women’s Grand Final as Japan’s Natsumi Taoka earned the first-ever ISA Longboard Medal for a Japanese surfer with the copper medal. Taoka’s performance comes on the back of a string of elite showings from Japanese surfers, such as Joh Azuchi’s Gold at the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, that demonstrate the growing talent and popularity of the sport in Japan heading towards Surfing’s Olympic debut in Tokyo 2020,
The final day of competition kicked off with an increase in swell and clean conditions at China’s famed left-hand point of Riyue Bay. A morning of Repechage and Main Event Rounds brought the event to the highly anticipated grand finals, featuring the top talent in the sport.
In the women’s grand final Tory Gilkerson faced off against Brazil’s Chloe Calmon, Japan’s Natsumi Taoka, and the reigning WSL champion, Honolua Blomfield, for a chance to earn her first-ever ISA medal. Gilkerson used her patience to her advantage and rode only four waves to obtain the 16.30 heat score to win the Gold. Brazil’s Calmon used a last-minute 7.77 to move into the Silver Medal position, while Blomfield and Taoka earned the Bronze and Copper respectively.
The Men’s Grand Final followed featuring a strong field of the world’s best longboarders. Kai Sallas continued to assert his dominance in the event. Already owning the highest wave score of the event with 9.67, Sallas topped his own mark and obtained a near-perfect 9.87 to earn a spot atop the Men’s podium.
Peru’s Benoit ‘Piccolo’ Clemente narrowly edged out USA’s Tony Silvagni for the Silver Medal, leaving the USA duo, Silvagni and Kevin Skvarna respectively with the Bronze and Copper.
ISA Executive Director, Robert Fasulo, addressed the international delegations at the Award Ceremony.
“ISA World Longboarding is back! What an amazing week.” He said. “On behalf of the ISA President, and the world surfing family, I would like to thank our partners in the Wanning Government, the Chinese Extreme Sports Association, and the Pangu Palm Surf Club. They have done an incredible job this week.”
Gold – Kai Sallas (HAW)
Silver – Benoit Clemente (PER)
Bronze – Tony Silvagni (USA)
Copper – Kevin Skvarna (USA)
Gold – Tory Gilkerson (USA)
Silver – Chloe Calmon (BRA)
Bronze – Honolua Blomfield (HAW)
Copper – Natsumi Taoka (JPN)
1 (Gold) – USA
2 (Silver) – Peru
3 (Bronze) – Hawaii
4 (Copper) – Brazil
5 – England