A massive day of competition got underway at the World Surf League (WSL) Essential Costa Rica Open Pro Men’s and Women’s Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000. The Pacific Ocean provided a new swell that offered competitors excellent scoring potential at the exotic beachbreak of Esterillos Este. Quarterfinal draws are set for both the men and women after men’s Rounds 5 and 6 were completed alongside women’s Rounds 2 and 3.
Top seeds made their debuts in Round 2 of women’s competition and proved to be nearly too much for fellow competitors with brilliant performances throughout the day.
Former CT competitor and current WQS No. 10 Justine Dupont (FRA) edged her way out of her Round 2 debut, but found her form in Round 3 with a blistering 8.93 (out of a possible 10) on her forehand to close out the heat. The French competitor looks to drop her lowest result, an Equal 17th in El Salvador, for a chance to find herself back in the qualification picture heading into the final events of 2016.
“I felt like I was in good form during my free surfs, but that first heat was tricky to find a good one and didn’t surf so well,” Dupont said. “This heat was going that same way until the last minutes when I found that really good one which was great to show my surfing. My strategy was to stay active at the beginning with it being a little slow and to get two scores — once I found those I was able to be more selective.”
“A few of these girls here are on the hunt for points coming to the end of the year and this is a really important start toward that,” Dupont continued. “It’s coming down to just a few events to get qualification points so we’re all hoping for a big result. Looking forward, it’s all going to come to the end and last contest, but I have to stay focused on the task at hand.”
Dupont will take on Round 2 standout Mahina Maeda (HAW) in Quarterfinal Heat 1.
Fellow Frenchmen and current No. 8 Pauline Ado (FRA) is hunting for a place back on the CT and boasted an even more electrifying performance with an excellent 16.43 (out of a possible 20) heat total. After a close Round 2 heat, Ado came back firing on all cylinders and looked unstoppable posting an 8.83 as her opening score with powerful turns in the critical sections of the wave. Despite winning the Pro Zarautz, Ado’s 1,000 points for that victory will need to be forgotten if she is to make her way back to the CT.
“The first heat is always a bit tricky and I was feeling a bit nervous so going into the second round I just wanted to find a good rhythm,” Ado said. “It ended up being really fun and I found a really good one in the beginning which gave me a lot of confidence in that heat. I wanted to be patient, but after that first heat of waiting I just needed to get a back up right away — it’s good when your strategy goes well. This is a unique event with the CT happening at the same time so it opens up some opportunity and my goal is always to improve my points.”
Ado will face Anali Gomez (PER) in Quarterfinal Heat 2. Silvana Lima (BRA), Paige Hareb (NZL), Alyssa Spencer (USA), and Brianna Cope (HAW) all advanced into the Quarterfinals.
Fireworks followed the women’s Round 3 action with an onslaught of excellent scores coming from Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Vasco Ribeiro (PRT).
Ewing began the heat with a near-perfect 9.50 on his backhand with numerous, critical maneuvers until finishing the wave off — backing it up with 8.73 by the end of the heat for Round 5’s highest heat total of 18.23. Vasco had a hefty lead throughout the heat with an 8.00 and 7.00, but ended up comboing the field with his last wave, an 8.33, to earn runner-up.
“It was just so fun out there, I looked at that first one and let Miguel [Tudela] go on it and the one after that was just perfect,” Ewing said. “That was a wave that I didn’t even try to over surf and just connect the dots, made sure to finish it — it was just amazing. After that I settled down a bit and looked for another good one which ended up coming my way.”
Ewing will face off with Fredrico Morais (PRT) Quarterfinal Heat 2.
“Not getting the results I needed in Europe took a toll on my confidence so to come here and get those scores really help going forward,” Ewing continued. “Especially coming up against Noe Mar [McGonagle] in his home country, that was pretty sick. This is my first time in Costa Rica and it’s amazing here. Now I’ll rest up tonight and I’m super excited for tomorrow.”
Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) lit up Esterillos Este in front of a home crowd full of Costa Rican spectators to open up Round 6 of competition. Taking on Ewing, and Round 5 standouts Luke Dillon (GBR) and Tomas Fernandes (PRT), McGonagle took care of business right away with a 16.33 heat total on his first two waves.
“It was really nice to get some fun waves today and stoked to get those two eights right away,” McGonagle said. “We’ve been having a few big events here with ISA a few months ago and it’s really exciting to see surfing growing as much as it is here. I really have no experience on this wave until a few days ago and it’s differently tricky, but there’s some really good ones out there. Just really stoked and hoping I can bring home a win for the home crowd.”
McGonagle will face 17-year-old Jordy Collins (USA) in the opening Quarterfinal match ups, someone who has been playing spoiler throughout the event for some of the fellow contest’s standouts — and top tier QS competitors. Dispatching current WQS No. 4 Deivid Silva (BRA) in Round 5, Collins continued that steam and eliminated former World Junior Champion Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) and No. 29 Santiago Muniz (ARG).
“I’m just so stoked right now, this is my best result on the QS and whatever happens tomorrow happens — I’m just enjoying it all,” Collins said. “It really doesn’t even feel like I’m surfing heats with it being so fun out there. There’s really good sections that form up and with that little bit of wind chop at low tide, it’s just so fun. I’m favoring my forehand just being so used to surfing lefts back home and really can’t wait for another heat.”
Olamana Eleogram (HAW), Jorgann Couzinet (FRA), Dimitri Ouvre (BLM), and Timothee Bisso (GLP) all earned spots into the Quarterfinals.