Cold and wintery conditions couldn't hinder the performances of some of the world's best longboarders as they battled strong winds, rain and even hail as the Whalebone Classic continued at Isolators Reef south of Cottesloe, WA.
After an exciting opening day of competition yesterday, finalists were decided for the final World Surf League (WSL) Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) event in Australasia for 2016.
Three of the four remaining surfers are former World Longboard Champions, with Taylor Jensen (USA), Harley Ingleby (NSW) and Chelsea Williams (QLD) all showing their class in some testing West Australian conditions.
Men's semi-final one saw defending event champion Taylor Jensen take on Nic Jones (QLD) in a high scoring display of progressive longboarding. Drawing from his extensive competition experience, Jensen overcame a slow start to post two excellent scores to finish on a combined total of 17.10 (from a possible 20).
Finding two waves that stood up and hugged the reef perfectly, Jensen merged powerful rail turns with graceful footwork defeat Jones who posted an 8 and 7.35 to finish on a combined total of 15.35 (from a possible 20).
"I'm really stoked to get through to the final, that was my goal for this event," said Jensen. "I got lucky and found two waves that allowed me to open up on, but Nic was surfing great and he definitely putting the pressure on me."
In men's semi-final two, Harley Ingleby used great wave selection and critical manoeuvres to dominate Ryan Clark (WA) and book his spot into his third Whalebone Classic final.
Ingleby engaged the full length of his rail to score a heat high 7.70 (from a possible 10) to finish on a combined two-wave total of 15.20 (from a possible 20).
"That was so crazy! It was fully hailing with horizontal rain when I got out of the water," said Ingleby. "I'm stoked to make another final with Taylor, hopefully I can get one up on him after our final in Kingscliffe earlier this year."
Conditions deteriorated as the LQS women's semi finals hit the water, with Chelsea Williams (QLD) taking down Nava Young (NSW) in a closely fought semi-final one.
Williams used her powerful backhand repertoire of manoeuvres to post a 7.5 and 6.35, finishing on a combined total of 13.85 (from a possible 20).
"That might have been the craziest squall I've ever surfed through," said Williams. "I'm just relieved to get through that heat and book my place into tomorrow's final."
In semi-final two, Kathryn Hughes (QLD) provided a surprise upset by taking down defending Whalebone Classic event champion and local girl Georgia Young (WA).
Hughes made the most of her opportunities, cutting through the wind affected waves with grace and poise to post a solid two-wave combined total of 14.10 (from a possible 20).
Despite her best efforts and the support of a strong and vocal local crowd, Young could only manage a combined total of 11.90 (from a possible 20).
"I couldn't really hear much out there during that heat and thought that Georgia was leading, I was just relieved to hear the results on the beach," said Hughes. "I'm ecstatic to make it through to my first Whalebone Classic final and surf against Chelsea."
The best conditions of the event window are set to bless competitors for tomorrow's finals, with swell expected to pulse overnight and favourable winds forecast.