Competitors faced challenging conditions on Day 4 of the WSL Men's QS 6000 Red Nose Pro presented by Costao do Santinho Resort. Event organizers, the Head Judge and the Surfer's Representative convened early this morning and due to uncontestable surf, the event was put on hold until 1:30 pm. As conditions improved, competition continued until sundown as 11 out of 12 Heats in Round 3 were completed at Praia do Santinho in Florianopolis, Brazil.
In Heat 1 of Round 3, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) went to town on a righthander for the highest single wave score of the day, a 9.50 (out of a possible 10 points). After starting off with a mid-range score of a 5.83, Igarashi combined consecutive frontside blasts, before a solid finish on the inside section to give the Californian a healthy lead.
"There was a lot of waiting around in the morning until it was decided to start in the afternoon. But I think they made the right decision because during my heat conditions improved a lot. The tide came up a little and we all wanted to surf, so it's always better to run when the waves are good," said Igarashi.
Currently sitting in 7th place on the 2015 WSL Qualifying Series rankings, Igarashi commented on his state of mind.
"I'm having a really good year. It's the best year I've ever had competing. Coming into the event I felt like I'd been surfing good, but I wasn't feeling that confident. But for these last heats, I think I've been feeling the most confident I've felt all year. I'm riding the board I used when I won the QS 3000 in Virginia, so I feel like I can't do wrong."
Despite waves in the 2-foot range (0.5 meter) and moderate winds from the southeast, Stu Kennedy (AUS) looked crisp on his board and was able to obtain the highest heat total of the day by earning an 8.37 and a 7.37 on his two best waves in Heat 9 of Round 3. Evan Geiselman (USA) has also looked in form throughout the contest and advanced in 2nd place with a 15.34 total (7.17 + 8.17). Kennedy and Geiselman are ranked 18th and 21st respectively on the QS standings and are looking to climb into the Top-10 with a strong finish at the Red Nose Pro.
Davey Cathels (AUS) is in 16th place on the QS rankings and also advanced on Friday alongside the Japanese phenom, Hiroto Ohhara (JPN). Cathels analyzed conditions beforehand, giving him a winning strategy to advance in 1st place with a 15.04 total in Heat 3 of Round 3.
"The waves were really hard, so it was important to choose the best ones," said Cathels. "I had a free-surf before, so I kind of knew which ones I wanted to catch. So in my heat it felt good to get some waves that stood up and let me do a few turns. This morning the waves weren't hitting the bank well, so it's good that the contest went on hold. It's more peaky now and easier to find waves on the sandbank."
In Heat 8 of Round 3, an all-Brazilian affair saw Bino Lopes (BRA) come out victorious after scoring two 7.77 rides (15.54 total) to advance into the next round. Local surfer, Michael Rodrigues (BRA) slid past in 2nd place while defeating Renato Galvao (BRA) and David do Carmo (BRA), who was penalized with an interference call.
"I knew it was going to be a very difficult heat against three very talented and competitive Brazilians," said Lopes. "Michael (Rodrigues) went ballistic in Round 2 and has looked unstoppable. David (do Carmo) needs no introduction and Renato (Galvao) is a two-time Brazilian national champion. So my strategy was to get two quick waves right off the bat and it ended up working. I still needed to improve my backup score, so once I had priority, I just waited until the very end of the heat to catch a good one for my other 7.77 ride."
Paul Cesar Distinguin (FRA) has always seemed comfortable competing in South America with prior success in QS events. On Friday at the Red Nose Pro, he maintained his rhythm by winning Heat 6 of Round 3. Santiago Muniz (ARG) advanced in 2nd place over Thiago Camarao (BRA) and Dimitri Ouvre (BLM).
"It's tough. There aren't many waves out there, so you have to wait for the larger sets and try to get the best wave of the heat. There are some rights and lefts, so you have to read the bank well just to find two good waves," said Distinguin, who currently sits in 175th place on the QS and is not eligible to compete in QS 10,000 events.
"My first trip to Brazil was amazing," continued Distinguin. "I like everything here: the waves, the food, the nature and the people, so I'm stoked to be here. Last year I was in Itacaré and it was amazing. I love Brazil, maybe I should move here (laughs). I'm going to the QS 6000 in Bahia, but I need to improve my rankings to get into the QS 10,000s."
The Red Nose Pro Florianopolis SC presented by Costao do Santinho Resort will distribute U$150,000 in prize money with U$25,000 going to the event winner in addition to 6,000 points valid towards the WSL Qualifying Series ranking.
A call is set for 7:30 am local time for continuation of the Red Nose Pro at Praia do Santinho. The forecast informs a slight increase in swell. Heat 12 of Round 3 will initiate the day's competition before moving on to Round 4. First up will be Patrick Gudauskas (USA), Michael Dunphy (USA), Cory Arrambide (USA) and Joan Duru (621). Watch all the action LIVE: www.worldsurfleague.com