Women Take Center Stage on Day 2 of Surf City El Salvador ISA World Longboard Championship

April 21st, 2024

Brazil’s Luana Soares gets highest day 2 heat score and event-high wave score

Japan’s Kai Hamase earns men’s top heat score for second consecutive day; England’s Ben Skinner sets new highest wave mark for the men

First men eliminated in repechage rounds

Surf City El Salvador – April 21, 2024

With 48% female participation among 129 competitors, the 2024 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Longboard Championship has set the record for women’s participation. On the second day of competition the record number of female surfers put longboard’s growth and progress on display, stepping into the spotlight with top performances and high scores.

Brazil’s Luana Soares took advantage of the glassy morning conditions and an increase in swell at El Sunzal to notch the top heat total of Sunday’s competition (16.33), capped off by a 9.33 wave score, the highest of the event thus far among all competitors. Soares completed several critical noserides on a solid set wave that reeled down the cobblestone point.

“El Salvador has fantastic, magic waves, and lets you perform beautiful surfing,” said Soares. “I gave it my best and it went really well.”

In one of the most anticipated heats of the day Hawaii’s Honolua Blomfield, the 2018 ISA Bronze Medalist, faced off against the two-time defending Gold Medalist, France’s Alice Le Moigne. Not wasting any time in the heat, Blomfield started off with a bang, earning an excellent range ride that would add to her 16.20 heat total, the second highest of the day. Le Moigne’s 12.43 comfortably let her advance in second place, sending Philippines’ Daisy Valdez and South Africa’s Roxy Davis to the repechage round.

USA’s Rachael Tilly (16.17) and Costa Rica’s Lia Diaz (15.5) also scored waves in the excellent range, heading strong into Main Event Round 3.

Cindy Portillo made the host country proud, earning a 12.93 total to win her Main Event Round 2 heat and become the last Salvadoran surfer remaining in the Main Event. All three of her teammates have fallen to the repechage rounds and will have to take the long route to advance through the event to a medal.

“It’s very exciting to continue alive (in the Main Event) and represent my country,” said Portillo. “I feel very happy just as all the Salvadorans here feel. Being at home, there is a lot of pressure, but it also feels beautiful hearing all the Salvadorans, my team, my people, cheering me on. It inspires me.”

Brazil's Luana Soares shined on the second day of competition / Photo: Jersson Barboza

For the men, Japan’s Kai Hamase was once again one of the standouts. After sharing the honor for top heat total on day 1 with Hawaii’s Kaniela Stewart, on day 2 Hamase’s excellent 16-point round 2 total stood alone as the best male total of the day. Hamase, who narrowly missed a medal with a 7th place finish at the 2023 edition of the event, has established himself early as a strong medal contender in 2024.

Stewart’s 15.57 round 2 heat total followed Hamase’s as the second best men’s total of the day, while Peru’s Sebastian Cardenas (15.34), France’s Edouard Delpero (15.30), and Australia’s Declan Wyton (15.23) also advanced with strong scores into Main Event Round 3.

While England’s Ben Skinner didn’t earn one of the top heat totals, he put on an electric performance to win his Round 2 heat with a 9.17 single wave score, the highest of the men thus far in the event.

“The first half of our heat, it turned off,” said Skinner. “It’s the way it goes. Then a big set came and the first wave was bumpy and hard. The second one I picked was really clean and had a nice wall to it. I’m stoked to get into the excellent range and keep going.”

The first three heats of Men’s Repechage Round 1 capped off the day of competition, resulting in the first eliminations in the event. Five surfers from Venezuela, Ecuador, Ireland, South Korea, and Dominican Republic bowed out of the competition.

Japan's Kai Hamase has been the top performing male competitor each of the first two days of competition / Photo: Pablo Jimenez

Women’s top performers were two past ISA Copper Medalists, Japan’s Naomi Taoka (14.5) and France’s Zoe Grospiron (12.5). The two-time defending Gold Medalist, France’s Alice Le Moigne, earned a solid 14-point heat total to close out the day. Her 7.83 wave score matched Tilly for the best women’s score of the day and got her campaign for a third consecutive Gold off to a strong start.

Other past ISA medalists, Hawaii’s Honolua Blomfield and Peru’s Maria Fernanda Reyes, will make their debut in the competition tomorrow when Women’s Main Event Round 1 continues with heats 10 through 16.

Team Italy’s Ginger Caimi, the youngest competitor in the event at 11 years old, gave the world a glimpse of the future generation of longboarders with a first place finish in her heat.

“I like the wave a lot here, it was awesome,” said Caimi, whose favorite longboarder, Honolua Blomfield, is a fellow competitor in the event. “It’s a unique, amazing feeling (to surf among my heroes). Being small or big doesn’t matter. What matters is to have fun!”

Already showing promise at such a young age, Caimi is already looking ahead to the possibility of longboard being included on the program of the 2028 Olympic Games.

“It would be exciting to go to the Olympics,” Caimi added. “I would love to go.”

Team South Korea showed the global the development of longboarding and impressed in their debut appearance in the event. Dongkyun Kim and Leena Mun both earned first place in their respective men’s round 1 and women’s round 1 heats, the first ISA longboard heat wins for their nation.

The competition will continue Sunday 21st at 7 a.m. local time with the remaining heats in Women’s Main Event Round 1.

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