SIHEUNG, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea (Saturday, November 18, 2023) – Siheung Wave Park once again delivered perfect waves for a massive day of competition that saw finalists determined across all four divisions in the Siheung Korea Open World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 and Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) 1,000 events.
A strong offshore wind hit right as the Women’s LQS kicked off, providing a shaky start for Longboard Tour veteran Natsumi Taoka (JPN), but once she adjusted to the conditions, the 2022/23 Asia LQS Regional Champion showcased the tight footwork and clean nose-rides that have earned her so much success, collecting an 8.50 (out of a possible 10) and a 7.00 for a 15.50 heat total (out of a possible 20), the highest of the day for the LQS.
Caption: Soojin Park (KOR) is one of four Korean surfers to advance to the LQS Semifinals. Credit: WSL / Miers
Longboarding is an extremely important part of the South Korean surf community, making up the majority of surfers in the country. Four Korean surfers made their nation proud by progressing through to the Semifinals in the LQS, two on the women’s side and two on the men’s. Jina Kim (KOR) became the first Korean surfer to win a WSL heat on home soil, while Soojin Park (KOR), Kanoa Palmiano (KOR) and Kim Dongkyun (KOR) also moved through to Finals Day. One of South Korea’s most celebrated surfers, Park is over the moon to be welcoming the region’s best talent to her home.
“I’m so happy to be in my town, in Korea, so happy to be here,” Park said. “In the Korean surf community, their favorite is the longboard, because so many became surfers and at first we enjoyed the longboard and then the Wave Park made us good shortboarders. We’re able to train and it’s good for all Korean surfers. Thank you to Wave Park wave pool and thank you surfing community.”
Palmiano, one of six surfers competing in both the QS and LQS, joined two others in making heats in both divisions. The 15-year-old’s loose style gives the feeling that he could surprise at any point, and he did precisely that on the finishing move of the final wave of his QS 3000 Round of 32 heat, whipping through a dramatic air reverse to earn a 6.50 and progress to the Round of 16, guaranteeing the best QS result of his young career.
Caption: The unstoppable backhand attack of Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) paid dividends, earning the two highest heat totals of the event so far. Credit: WSL / Miers
After an early exit from the Taiwan Open of Surfing, Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) came out of the gates firing in South Korea. The Tokyo 2020 Olympian opened his campaign with not one, but two excellent heats, solidified by 9-point rides in each. A 17.00 heat total in his first heat was eclipsed by a 17.65 total in his second. The 27-year-old earned the highest numbers of the event so far thanks to his lightning fast backhand clearly standing out from the entire rest of the field.
“It’s fun, you know, everybody has the same opportunity to ride a wave,” Ohhara said. “Especially, there is four waves, so you have two chances to then maybe go big and then maybe two chances to just go normal. So that was my plan and yeah, stoked to get the scores.”
The Women’s QS 3000 Round of 16 saw the strong backhand attacks of Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) and Sara Wakita (JPN) earn excellent scores, as well as the fast and flowing forehand of Anon Matsuoka (JPN), but it was Kana Nakashio (JPN) who set the bar, earning a 9.00 for a series of fast, critical turns, punctuated with a beyond-vertical finish.
“I’m happy to get a 9 in these freezing conditions,” Nakashio said. “I’m having a great time here in Korea. I love the food. It’s cold, but I’d love to come back here again. I’ll do my best in the next heat as well.”
Competition will continue at 9:30am on Sunday, November 19 with the Women’s LQS Semifinals.
The Siheung Korea Open will be broadcast live on Korea’s largest network TV stations, MBC and OBS, for 3 hours on each day of the competition. The entire competition will be broadcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL’s YouTube channel, and the free WSL app. Check out more ways to watch from the WSL’s broadcast partners.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.