Bonga Perkins is declared 2008 World Longboard Champ at San O

The local pelicans caught the sets of the morning as golden clean Santa Ana conditions continued. Out of the blue the Pacific went calm as the 4th round got underway. When the first wave finally rose above the kelp beds, Frenchman Timothee Creignout hit long noserides and massive turns for a sweet score, followed by a back-up wave. Chasing first place Colin McPhillips laid down a superb ride, but as the lull reared its head again, he was left needing a low score in the dying seconds. Colin scrambled, missed a wave, lost priority, Timothee snagged the next wave, got a good score, forcing Colin to catch the same wave going left. It was a blistering attack from Colin, but the judges could not mark it because Timothee was riding first, and the three times world champion was out.

Bonga Perkins and Ned Snow were out-of-this-world in their heats, Ned with so much power, flow and control that the judges rewarded him a perfect 10. It left Australian ace Harley Ingelby eliminated from the title race. Brazilians Eduardo Bage and Alex Salazar also rampaged into the quarters. They joined Marseille maestro Antoine Delpero, who beat the hyper talented Oxbow rider Bryce Young in an exceptionally close affair. The highest-octane exchange came between Taylor Jenson and Matthew Moir, both riding like champions. In the last score tally Matthew won an awesome heat thanks to uncoiling unbelievably radical turns and a never-say-die attitude.

Back on the beach San O was oozing with sun cream and a positive atmosphere. A huge thank you goes out to key Oxbow people Eric, Vincent, Alex, Thierry, François and Lucas (and many more) for devoting their heart and soul to this event, and making a world longboard championship possible. Well done. In the quarterfinals Bonga and Ned reeled on, while Antoine defeated Josh Baxter, the last remaining American in a contest where the local Californian stylists did themselves proud. In a physically and emotionally draining heat, Brazilian stalwart Alex Salazar beat Matthew Moir. Alex, however, lost to Antoine in semi number 2, while Bonga beat Ned in semi number 1.

The final and whole world title was done the wire – the iconic Hawaiian against the young Frenchman. Antoine Delpero is a natural stylist. Even in contests Antoine’s rides form an elegant whole, not a set of disconnected, isolated moves. He constantly flows from turn to turn, walk to noseride, shifting weight with immense subtlety and nuance. His sinuous noserides and soul-arch hang tens, mixed with big manoeuvres, were well suited to the cobble groomed peelers at San O. But it was magnanimous Hawaiian Bonga Perkins who took a long overdue second World Title, winning the Oxbow WLT. The gregarious Bonga proved how hyper talented he is, scoring a quiver of insane rides in the final, hanging ten with poise, and then exploding into power turns. Bonga is the best waterman in the field. He surfed with focus and flair all week, tattering the sets at San O with beyond vertical turns and a display of uncanny timing and anticipation. Oahu legends Rusty Keaulana and Dino Miranda dominated the World Longboard crown between 1993 and 1997. Now the legend Bonga adds another World title in 2008 to the one he won ten years ago in Guethary, France.


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