Steven Sawyer has been crowned the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) longboard champion at Jinzun Harbour, in Taiwan.
The South African logger claimed his maiden WSL World Longboard Championship title after defeating Kai Sallas in a tight, nerve-wracking 25-minute final.
The 24-year-old longboarder combined traditional longboarding maneuvers with the fundamental pillars of competitive surfing - speed, power, and flow - to defeat the Hawaiian longboard legend.
Two years after finishing runner-up, Sawyer wrote his name on the list of world longboarding champions. After all, he had beaten an opponent with 15 years of experience on the men's longboard tour.
"I still pinch myself when I surf against Kai, Taylor, and Harley. They are all my heroes, so competing against them is surreal," explained Steven "Steezy" Sawyer.
The South Africa, who is also a prolific shortboard performer, gets his boards shaped from his father. On his way to the final, Sawyer defeated big names like Taylor Jensen and Tony Silvagni.
"I was watching Kai all week, and he was the man to beat, so when I came up against him in the final, I got nervous. It was all good though - I had such an incredible crew cheering me on from the beach, and that got me pumped up to perform."
On the women's side, 17-year-old Soleil Errico equaled Rachael Tilly as the youngest-ever WSL world champion. The Malibu longboarder defeated the athlete from San Clement in an exciting matchup held in two-to-three-foot waves.
"It doesn't feel real right now. I'm so happy that all of the hard work I have put in has paid off. We have surfed against each other a lot. Rachael is an amazing surfer and a really tough competitor so I knew it would be hard," concluded Errico.
2018 Taiwan Open World Longboard Championship | Final
1. Steven Sawyer (ZAF) 16.10
2. Kai Sallas (HAW) 15.10
1. Soleil Errico (USA) 15.96
2. Rachael Tilly (USA) 14.17