After dangerous 15-plus-foot surf forced event organizers to call a lay day Tuesday, pumping conditions were on hand Wednesday as the first 8 Heats of Round 2 were completed at the 2015 WSL Men's QS 1500 Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour in Chile. In what can be described as the "Cold-Water Pipeline," gaping barrels in the 6-to-8 foot range (2-3 meters) provided high-scoring opportunities for the athletes at the reefbreak El Gringo in Arica, Chile.
Manuel Selman (CHL), Yago Dora (BRA), Alvaro Malpartida (PER), Nicolas Vargas (CHL), Andy Criere (FRA), Johnny Noris (USA), Wesley Leite (BRA), and Cristian Merello (CHL) all earned scores in the excellent range (8.0-10 points) in their opening heats. But in Heat 2 of Round 2, Lucas Chianca (BRA) was unstoppable as he earned a 17.25 (9.75 + 7.50) on two deep barrel-rides for the highest heat total of the event so far.
Current WSL South America rankings leader Robson Santos (BRA) maintained his top form with a victory in his debut at El Gringo. Santos has added incentive to do well at the QS 1500 as the top-ranked surfer from each of the seven WSL Regions will be guaranteed a spot in all QS 6,000 and QS 10,000 events in 2016.
"I'm so happy I made it here," said Robson Santos. "My flights kept getting postponed because of the weather at the airports, but I finally got in to Arica last night (Tuesday). My heat today was the first time I surfed here, so I'm stoked that I won. I'm focused on my objective here which is to win the contest so I can accumulate some points on my QS ranking. I think it's going to be hard this year because there are so many talented people in the contest, lots of Hawaiians, Australians and Brazilians that are all good in the barrel. But so am I, so it's going to be interesting."
The only surfer that can overtake Santos in the standings is Lucas Silveira (BRA), who also shines in these types of conditions. Proven in waves of consequence in Hawaii, Mexico and Brazil, Silveira will take to the water in Heat 11 of Round 2 against Halley Batista (BRA), Max Longhurst (AUS) and Brad Ettinger (USA).
"I feel pretty anxious to get in the water and start competing," Silveira declared. "El Gringo is one of my favorite waves in the world, and I like these kinds of barreling waves. I don't know why, but the more dangerous it is, the more I enjoy surfing it. The waves have been huge the last few days, so I've been putting in time at El Gringo and El Buey to try to get used to the heavy conditions. It would be amazing to win the WSL South America title, but Robson (Santos) is in a great position and he knows how to surf this spot well too. So I don't want to think about that. I just want to get tubed as much as possible and we'll see how things turn out in the end."
Alvaro Malpartida (PER) and Guillermo Satt (CHL) are the only two surfers with previous wins at the Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour in Chile. Malpartida won in 2013 and Satt was victorious in 2011. No surfer has ever won the event twice and both surfers are hungry to be the first.
"I'm just arriving from a trip to Puerto Escondido (Mexico), so I feel prepared physically and mentally," said Malpartida. "I've been training a lot these last few years and I'm confident that I can repeat my victory in 2013."
Satt however has local knowledge on his side:
"El Gringo is the wave that I always surf in Chile," claimed Guillermo Satt. "I'm at home, I feel confident and I've got some great boards. I'm in the perfect position to surf these waves well and these conditions are great to compete in."
A call is set for 8 a.m. (local time) on Thursday for the continuation of the 2015 WSL Men's QS 1500 Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour. Heat 9 of Round 2 will see Miguel Tudela (PER), Jeronimo Vargas (BRA) and Tales Araujo (BRA) first in the water. The event is broadcast LIVE: www.mauiandsons.cl/aricaprotour2015