2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship: World Surf League

by Matt
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2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship: World Surf League

Held among the stunningly beautiful scenery of Wanning, Hainan Island, China, the 2016 Jeep World Longboarding Championship was an outstanding event that combined local Hainan Island culture with professional longboard surfing in an intriguing way. Running from December 4th through the 13th, 2016, this competition actually finished up a couple days early after yielding an exciting showdown between the Brazilian longboarding legend Phil Rajzman, and South African pro Steven Sawyer. The final round between these two gentlemen was quite the close call, with the final result showing that there was less than one whole point separating their respective total scores.

2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship: World Surf League

The weather conditions for the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship were spotty for most of the event, with a seemingly constant mid-strength rain coming down a lot of the time. Additionally, the conditions were virtually all overcast for the duration of the contest with quite a dense haze building out over the breaks and out to sea. The wave breaks during the competition were highly varied for the most part, and each day seemed to offer a different type of wave in terms of both size and break dynamics. In terms of the days with the best overall wave breaks, the conditions were about two meters at the most, but at least the break type was longer and allowed for extended, sustained longboard runs.

In many ways, the breaks at Wanning, Hainan Island were perfect for this event in the sense that they provided the kind of moderate angled, continuous wave that ends up working out great with the surfing dynamics of a longboard. Given that many surfing fans probably were not able to travel over to Hainan Island to catch this awesome competition, the overall results and final podium rankings will now be provided here for the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship. Because this is among the last major World Surf League competitions for the 2016 season, fans will definitely want to read up on the outcome of this contest!

Quarterfinals Results and Competitor Rankings:

Starting out in Heat 1, Quarterfinals we saw a matchup between S. Sawyer and H. Ingleby that ended up yielding some decent surfing, but was by no means the highlight of the quarterfinals. S. Sawyer looked nice out in the breaks at Hainan Island, and was able to secure the number one spot in the first heat of the quarterfinals. His scoring total for the first quarterfinal heat came out to 15.83 points overall, which was a margin of victory of over two points over his heat matchup, H. Ingleby. Taking the number two spot in Heat 1, Quarterfinals was H. Ingleby who finished up the heat with a total scoring value of 13.40 points. Both surfers performed well in this heat, but S. Sawyer took the win there mainly due to how clean his starts were, and the fact that he was so effectively balanced on his turns as well. The average wave score for Heat 1, Quarterfinals ended up at 7.31 points in total.

Jeep World Longboarding Championship

Heading into the second heat of the quarterfinals at the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship, judges and spectators alike were treated to hands down the best performances of the entire quarterfinals. Heat 2, Quarterfinals saw a matchup between longboard surfing professionals R. Sphaier and P. Clemente, and this matchup would turn out to be the closest contest that was seen in any heat of the quarterfinals. R. Sphaier managed to come out on top in the second heat, bringing in the highest individual competitor scoring value of the entire quarterfinals at 17.80 points overall. Compared to P. Clemente’s final Heat 2, Quarterfinals scoring total of 16.60 points overall, the margins between the two competitors are only just over one point. R. Sphaier looked just about perfect out there during the second quarterfinal heat, picking and choosing the exact right waves in the set and executing them flawlessly. His wave selection definitely helped him out a lot, and contributed to his earning the highest score in the whole quarterfinal proceedings. With an average wave score of 8.60 points, the second heat of the quarterfinals definitely saw the highest average by a lot.

Heat 3, Quarterfinals ended up seeing the largest margins between the two competitors that were matched up in that heat, with about five points separating the respective scores of the two athletes. The matchup in the third quarterfinals heat was between T. Jensen and E. Delpero, and with Delpero coming off a big win it was up to Jensen to challenge him. That is exactly what he managed to do, with T. Jensen taking first place in Heat 3, Quarterfinals by earning a total scoring value of 16.33. Compared to E. Delpero’s somewhat unexpectedly low score of 11.43 points overall, this was one heat where it was abundantly clear who had out-surfed the other competitor. Delpero just couldn’t seem to get his timing exactly where he wanted it to be, and as a result wasn’t able to score very well from his wave executions. With the lowest overall average wave scoring of the entire quarterfinals, the average in Heat 3, Quarterfinals came out to be 6.94 points when it was all said and done.

Jeep World Women's Longboarding Championship

With regard to the final heat of the quarterfinals, the fourth heat involved a great matchup between longboard surfing professionals P. Rajzman and B. Skinner competing to see who would end up advancing on to the semifinals. Both surfers were able to perform quite well with few mistakes, but it would prove to be P. Rajzman who would come out on top in the number one spot. P. Rajzman managed to generate an impressive scoring total of 15.30 by the conclusion of his performance in Heat 4, Quarterfinals, which was just enough to beat out his competition by a margin of about one and a half points. Making it into second place within the context of the fourth quarterfinal heat was B. Skinner, who in spite of his best efforts was not able to knock out P. Rajzman given that Skinner’s scoring total came out to 13.93 points overall. Halfway through their heat it really did look like B. Skinner had a handle on things and was likely to advance, but in the final moments of P. Rajzman’s performance he was able to get an outstanding ride on a pristine breaker which put him up and over for the quarterfinal win. The average wave scoring in the fourth heat of the quarterfinals ended up being 7.31 points overall, which happened to tie with the first quarterfinal heat average.

Semifinals Results and Competitor Rankings:

Although the quarterfinals of the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship saw a great deal of action, the semifinals was the point at which the competition really started heating up and kicking into high gear. The first heat of the semifinals included a matchup that pitted South African longboard surfing professional Steven Sawyer up against Brazilian Rodrigo Sphaier, and this was one of the closest margins of victory seen in the entire competition. Starting out with the Wave 1 scoring, Steven Sawyer was off to a strong start as he was able to earn a 7.93 point score on his first wave. Rodrigo Sphaier came in with a clean 7.00 point score for his Wave 1 score, setting Sawyer up for an advantage position heading into the Wave 2 scoring.

2016 World Surf League Longboarding event series

That roughly one point lead that Sawyer was able to establish from his Wave 1 score would prove to be critical by the time it was all over. This was because of the fact that even though Rodrigo Sphaier outperformed him in the Wave 2 scoring, Sawyer’s initial lead was enough to put him over and allow him to take first place in Heat 1, Semifinals. Steven Sawyer’s Wave 2 scoring came out to 7.17 points, while Sphaier’s came out to 7.83 points. In this way, Sphaier won the second wave scoring round but still ended up getting cut after the semifinal. Sawyer’s heat total scoring value was 15.10 points to Sphaier’s 14.83 points, marking a margin of victory of less than half a point. The lowest average in the semifinals, the first heat’s average wave score came out to be 7.48 points by the conclusion of Heat 1, Semifinals.

If it was even possible after how crazy Heat 1, Semifinals turned out to be, the second heat was actually more intense than that. Heat 2, Semifinals saw a matchup between Phil Rajzman and American professional longboard surfer Taylor Jensen, and like the first semifinal heat, the initial wave scores were not a good predictor of who was going to advance through the second heat into the finals. This is to say that after the Wave 1 scores were in and P. Rajzman had a 6.33 point scoring value and T. Jensen had a 7.40, marking a healthy lead of over one point for Jensen, it was still not yet in the bag for Jensen. Both surfers were able to step it up a notch after the Wave 1 scoring was completed, as they both came in with scores that far surpassed their Wave 1 scoring totals.

2016 World Surf League Longboarding event series winners

Rajzman’s Wave 2 scoring was an incredible 9.20 scoring value, marking one of the only 9-club scores in the entire competition. It was easily the best ride that anyone had during the whole contest, and marked a major highlight of the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship. Taylor Jensen was also able to deliver a great ride for his Wave 2 scoring, coming in with an 8.10 point score. When everything was added up, Phil Rajzman was able to come out on top with a Heat 2, Semifinals total scoring value of 15.53 points overall. Since Taylor Jensen finished out with a 15.50 point total after the semifinals were over, that means he lost by an remarkably small margin of 0.03 points; one of the smallest margins in recent World Surf League competitive history and records. The average wave scoring in Heat 2, Semifinals was revealed as being 7.76 points by the end of the round.  

Final Round Results and Analysis:

While it wasn’t nearly as exciting as the wildly close Heat 2, Semifinals round in terms of closeness of scoring and competition, the finals of the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship definitely delivered in a big way. In the final round we saw Brazilian Phil Rajzman pitted against the South African longboard pro Steven Sawyer, and these guys certainly brought their best game to the finals. Steven Sawyer was able to take the scoring advantage at the conclusion of the Wave 1 round of scoring, coming in with an 8.50 point score compared to Rajzman’s 8.17 point score. So while it wasn’t a massive lead by any means, it was still Steven Sawyer’s lead halfway through the finals at Hainan Island, China.

That all fell apart, however, at the conclusion of the Wave 2 round of scoring. That was the point at which Phil Rajzman put up his second 9-club scoring of the competition with a 9.17 point wave score! The judges and spectators went wild at the revelation that Rajzman had secured not one, but two 9-club scores at the conclusion of the 2016 Jeep World Longboard Championship event and earned himself the championship title. Sawyer’s 7.93 point score was not nearly enough to unseat Rajzman’s first place championship victory, though a second place finish is still a nice outcome for Steven Sawyer. Final scores came out to be first place Phil Rajzman with 17.34 points, and second place Steven Sawyer with 16.43 points overall. The average wave score ended up at 8.44 points for the final round.

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