For the third year in a row, Hainan is playing host to a surfing world championship event.
The first round of the SWATCH Girls Pro China gets underway later today.
The globe’s top female longboarders have hauled their boards to Hainan island, to the coastal town of Wanning, where they will compete in the third edition of the SWATCH Girls Pro China.
Fireworks, speeches, and dance performances rounded out the opening ceremonies last night.
The ceremony was elaborate because this isn’t just any competition. This is the take-all of longboard competitions. The winner gets the glory, the world title, and the chance to lift the massive golden trophy.
But the competition will be fierce. The elite field is made up of 36 surfers, hailing from countries like Australia, South Africa, Japan, Brazil, and the US.
Hawaii’s Kelia Moniz is back to defend the title she won last year at age 19, and like most surfers, her strategy is to not stress out.
Just like any other event. I’m coming into it hoping to have a good result again. Winning another world title would be ideal but I’m going to take it heat by heat. And hope for the best. I’m just glad we have good waves this year.
Dane Jordan of the Association of Surfing Professionals also had an optimistic forecast for the event.
The weather and waves over the next few days are looking very very good, and we’ll be starting tomorrow with the first round, in what looks like exceptionally good conditions. And we’re looking forward to a tough and fair competition and watching the world’s best women surfers competing for the title.
This is the third edition of the SWATCH girls Pro China, and fans and media are paying more attention than ever.
The buzz is reflective of the efforts that are being made at a national and local level to promote Hainan as world-class surfing destination.
It may also help that this year’s championship will include three Chinese surfers, representing Hainan and Chinese Taipei.
Hainan’s Darci Liu snagged a wildcard, and will have a chance to become the first Chinese surfer to win a world title.
American surfer Kassia Meador is a veteran of the longboard scene, and is excited to witness the development of her sport in China.
To be able to bring surfing to a new culture is a fantastic experience. To see people like Darcy and Monica and some of the local people who are just getting better and better every year. And so many new fresh faces out in the water, that’s just fantastic.
The competition will be held at Riyue Bay, a stretch featuring long breaks that can peel for over 200 meters.
Meador says the location is ideal for longboarders.
"Riyue bay is a perfect long left-hand point break and us longboarders are always suckers for point breaks. And not mention that the water’s warm, there’s palm trees on the beach. And you know, nobody can be bummed about that."
The opening heats will get underway later this morning.
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