JINZUN HARBOR, Taitung County, Taiwan (Sunday, November 12, 2023) – Dakoda Walters (AUS) and Sara Wakita (JPN) have earned the biggest wins of their careers, claiming victory at the 2023 Taiwan Open of Surfing, World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 5000 event. On an action-packed Finals Day, Jinzun Harbor turned on blustery but fun three-to-four foot surf as Wakita and Walters rose to the top against some of the Australia / Oceania and Asia region’s best up-and-coming talent.
In the men’s Final, fireworks were guaranteed as two of Australia’s most exciting young talents, Dakoda Walters (AUS) and Joel Vaughan (AUS), went head-to-head in search of their biggest QS event victories. The pair were clear standouts all week, each posting the event’s highest heat totals as the Jinzun skatepark offered them the perfect ramps for their aerial antics. Although the waves slowed down in the Final, the 30-minute matchup didn’t disappoint, with each competitor finding multiple combinations and air sections, but it was the consistency and wave selection of Walters that earned him the win with a two-wave total of 15.84 (out of a possible 20).
“It feels so good to win – it’s definitely the biggest of my career,” Walters said. “I always get nervous surfing against Joel (Vaughan); he’s so good and capable of anything, so you never know what he is going to do. It was fun just to surf and not play the game too much. We were hoping for a few more waves during the Final, but we each got a couple of opportunities, and I’m stoked I made the most of mine. I obviously want to be on the Challenger Series, and this is a great step towards that. I came here to Taiwan for the World Juniors in 2019, and I knew how good the air wind here is and was excited to get back here – it’s a super fun place.”
Caption: Dakoda Walters (AUS) boosting his way to victory at the Taiwan Open of Surfing QS 5000.
Credit: WSL / Miers
“I’d also like to dedicate all of this to Febri – I hope that everyone here made him proud today, and I’m glad that we could all surf and do it for him. Thanks to everyone for making it possible for us to do it in his honour,” Walters continued.
Caption: Competitors, WSL staff, and the wider surfing community honouring the life of Indonesian competitor Febriansyah at the Taiwan Open of Surfing.
Credit: WSL / Norwood
In the women’s Final, it was no surprise to see Olympic Bronze Medalist Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) take on 2023 form surfer Sara Wakita (JPN) as Tsuzuki looked to back up her 2019 win at Jinzun Harbor and Wakita looked for a second QS victory in 2023 having already taken a win at the Tamil Nadu International Surf Open QS 3000 in India. It was a nail-biting affair, with both competitors coming out of the gates strong and building all heat. Tsuzuki looked ready to pounce for the entire heat, but Wakita’s speed and finesse on her frontside earned her an excellent heat total of 16.17, which was too much for Tsuzuki to chase down.
“It was amazing to share a Final with one of my best friends, Amuro, and just to be here in Taiwan with all my friends is so fun,” Wakita said. “It’s been a really great year for me. I’m focussing on having fun in my heats, and it seems to be working because I’ve been getting some good results. I’m just stoked to get the win and get some good waves for a competition. Let’s hope it continues. I will be back in Taiwan for sure.”
Caption: Sara Wakita (JPN) chaired to victory at the Taiwan Open of Surfing QS 5000.
Credit: WSL / Miers
The 2023 Taiwan Open of Surfing QS 5000 ran at Jinzun Harbor in Taitung County from November 6 – 12. For more information and and results, head to www.worldsurfleague.com or download the free WSL App.