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County News
Surf Stars from around Globe Brave Cold Front for 2015 Taiwan Open at Jinzun Beach
Date: 2015-11-25    
The Golden Horse Awards was not the only venue to recently boast a convergence of superstars. The Jinzun Beach in Taitung also had its share of stars, though these stars have come to chase waves. Numerous surf lovers have braved the first cold front of the year to come to the event and see these world class surfers. This is the fifth year of the Taiwan Open of Surfing, and it began on November 26. Contestants include current WSL champions Harley Ingleby (men’s longboard) and Chelsea Williams (women’s longboard). Williams has won this contest for the past two years. Also, Taylor Jensen, who has won two world longboard titles, will be there. This year, Guinness big wave world record holder Garrett McNamara has also come. Also sure to attract attention are all the young bucks from Australia, each of whom has won at least one world-class contest before reaching the age of 20. All are welcome to enjoy the show and take advantage of the shuttle bus running between Taitung City and Jinzun as arranged by the Taitung County Government.

The contest is running between November 26-29, and Magistrate Justin Huang hosted the opening on November 25. An indigenous libation ceremony began the event with an elder form the Amis tribe blessing the event. Since there are a lot of contestants from abroad, a pastor was also invited to lead a prayer for safety and overall smoothness. Speaking in both Chinese and English, Magistrate Huang stated that through the hard work of the Taitung County Government, the contest just gets better each year, and it has become one of the most-watched surf events globally. This year, the County Government is again cooperating with the WSL in offering the only event in Taiwan where tour points may be earned. Furthermore, the prize money has been increased to NTD 2 million, attracting over 70 of the best surfers from 12 countries. Such caliber is far above other Asian contests, significantly boosting the level and vision for surfing in Taiwan.

Despite the strongest cold front this year hitting in the middle of the contest, the Jinzun harbor (located where the northeasters hit hardest) is where things are happening, as it is the venue of the annual 2015 Taiwan Open of Surfing WSL event. Magistrate Huang thanked the WSL for its support in raising the standard of the event to a rating of QS1500, which is the same as a three-star rating of the past (the highest rating is six stars, and in before this year, the Taiwan Open was rated as a one-star event). Since Taiwan is the place of origin of Austronesian culture, the people here have always been connected to the sea. Taitung has always been known for its beautiful coast, and now it is also known as great place for surfing in its proper season. Even superstar Jacky Chan once chose the tombolo in Jinzun as the site of filming for a movie. WSL Regional Manager of Japan, Toshiya Omi, has brought 19 surfers from Japan, and he hopes to bring over 30 next year, attracting more people to the warm winter waters of Taiwan.

Despite the number of foreign contestants, Taiwanese surfers are also taking up the challenge. Some have been preparing for a few months in order to get a chance to rise onto the international stage. Yang Yu-hao is the Taiwanese surfer with the most points, and through wild card eligibility, he has entered the QS1500 WSL shortboard competition. Another local who often wins local contests, Qiu Zhong-hong, will take part in the men’s longboard QS1000 event. Both events will begin on November 26. The women’s events will begin the following day. As one of the three women with the highest number of points in Taiwan, Zhang Xiu-yun will participate in the women’s QS1000. The finals for each of the divisions will be held on Sunday, November 29. The surfers will have to deal with cold weather and unpredictable waves, but no matter who wins, this will be the greatest surf event in Taiwan for the whole year.

As the host of the event, the Taitung County Government has arranged for a free shuttle bus which will make stops at the Taitung City transfer station, the Marlin Hotel, the Jialulan Recreational Area, Longchang Elementary School, the Jinzun Recreational Area, and the well-reputed steamed stuffed buns shop in Donghe. Buses will be available during the four days of the event, leaving the Taitung City transfer station every hour on the hour from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The last return bus each day will leave from Jinzun at 5:00 p.m.

Also, there will be a “Riding the Wind Surf Event” on November 28 and 29 at Longchang Elementary School. By taking the shuttle bus, you can enjoy this event and the contest together. There will be a point-collection activity: after collecting enough stamps at the contest venue and at the Longchang Elementary School venue, you can exchange them for gifts. All are welcome to come enjoy the fun and root for the locals!