In classic Bells Beach surf conditions, 42-year-old Kai Sallas (HAW) and reigning World Surf League (WSL) World Longboard Champion Soleil Errico (USA) took out the inaugural Bells Beach Longboard Classic on the weekend.
Finals day of the event was held in clean three to-four-foot swell and offshore winds, giving surfers the ultimate canvas to put their best surfing on display.Less than a point separated the winners and runners-up of both the men’s and women’s finals, with Declan Wyton (AUS) and Alice Lemoigne (FRA) keeping pressure on their opponents until the end.Sallas’ Bells Beach win marked his first victory on the WSL Longboard Tour since 2011 and has elevated him to number two in the world alongside his protégé and tour travelling partner Kaniela Stewart (HAW).
Sallas claimed the highest heat total of the event in his quarter-final matchup against Tony Silvagni (USA) and backed it up with a clutch performance in the semi-finals against three-time world champion Taylor Jensen (USA).
Despite deteriorating conditions for the final, Sallas was able to show off his rhythm from earlier in the day and lock away both a seven-point ride and a high six-point ride at the backend of the final to narrowly defeat a strong performance from Declan Wyton.
“Coming to this one I was working hard, training and working on boards and surfing a bunch and really taking it seriously.
“I’m so stoked.”
On the women’s side of the draw, American Soleil Errico claimed her third WSL Longboard Tour victory and the overall ratings lead.
Saturday’s final was the third time Errico and Alice Lemoigne had matched up in as many events, with Errico having narrowly taken victory by under one point on each occasion.
Lemoigne’s skills on the nose and effortless footwork gave her the early edge, however Errico kept her pace by matching the Frenchwomen on the nose and throwing in an elite series of carving manoeuvres.
A masterclass of speed, power and flow on her last wave proved to be enough for Errico, giving her the slight edge when the buzzer sounded.
With her win, Errico has now guaranteed herself a chance at defending her 2022 WSL World Longboard Title in her hometown of Malibu, California this October.
“The goal for me was to get to Malibu and I’ve done that, so it’s a really good feeling.
“I’m just excited that I’ll be competing there again. I’m definitely going to work my butt off to hopefully succeed.”
For highlights, results and information from the Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic, visit WorldSurfLeague.com
Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl Men’s Final Results:
1 – Kai Sallas (HAW) 12.77
2 – Declan Wyton (AUS) 12.34
Bioglan Bells Beach Longboard Classic Presented by Rip Curl Women’s Final Results:
1 – Soleil Errico (HAW) 11.97
2 – Alice Lemoigne (USA) 11.70
Read Surf Coast Times story here.
Photo credit 1: Kai Sallas (HAW) and Soleil Errico (USA) took out the inaugural Bells Beach Longboard Classic on the weekend. Photo: ED SLOANE/WORLD SURF LEAGUE
Photo credit 2: From left, WSL Senior Manager of Global Development Tours Will Hayden-Smith, Kai Sallas (HAW), Declan Wyton (AUS), Alice Lemoigne (FRA), Soleil Errico (USA) and Surf Coast Shire mayor Liz Pattison. Photo: ED SLOANE/WORLD SURF LEAGUE