On Thursday, a full day of surfing took place at Praia da Tiririca as twenty heats were run at the WSL Men's QS 6000 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. The action intensified as the top seeded surfers hit the water in Round 2. From here on out, every heat and every wave is crucial as the surfers battle it out for a spot in the Top 10 on the QS rankings and a ticket straight to the 2016 World Surf League Championship Tour.
19 surfers that are directly in reach of qualification competed on Thursday, but only ten advanced into Round 3. Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Ryan Callinan (AUS) both won their heats and currently sit within the Top 10 on the QS. Other surfers to move ahead in competition were: Joan Duru (FRA), Even Geiselman (USA), Davey Cathels (AUS), Dion Atkinson (AUS), Soli Bailey (AUS), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) and Ezekiel Lau (HAW).
After earning several mid-range scoring rides, Callinan took control of the lead as he earned an 8.73 for the high score in Heat 4 of Round 2. Fellow countryman Soli Bailey (AUS) also found an excellent scoring ride of an 8.50 to advance in 2nd place over Patrick Gudauskas (USA) and Paul Cesar Distinguin (FRA).
"It's fun, there are good waves to be had out there. They're a little tricky to find, but there are definitely a lot of fun waves and it's really contestable," said Callinan. "Yeah, it was a good wave. I actually had like 3rd priority or something but I was able to tag it twice and it ended up being my best score. I'm happy that it got me through the heat."
Callinan was asked about his thoughts on qualification and who he thinks will win the World Title.
"The QS 6000s really aren't my focus, the QS 10000S are," Callinan responded. "But to get a win here will probably see me on there. So I'm putting a lot of effort in here and I'm just trying to get some heats under my belt. I've been waking up early, having early dinners and I'll just keep surfing the way I'm surfing and hopefully it will all go well. I hope Mick wins, because I always support the Aussies, but it's coming down to the wire now with everyone being knocked out of Portugal, so it's going to be an exciting finish."
Kanoa Igarashi (USA) is currently in 6th on the QS ranking and is very close to adding his name to the list of CT surfers in 2016. Igarashi lived up to expectations as he took first place in Heat 9 of Round 2. Granger Larsen (HAW) advanced into Round 3 behind Igarashi in a close finish over Victor Bernardo (BRA) and Vicente Romero (ESP).
"Yeah, that was a hard heat. The waves were really difficult and it was hard to find the ones that gave you scoring potential," Igarashi said. "So I just made sure I was giving myself opportunities and kept away from the other surfers when I didn't have priority and I ended up getting my 7.17 without priority. [About the QS Ranking] I'm stoked to be in a position where I can qualify. It wasn't a goal of mine at the beginning of the year, so to have this opportunity to maybe qualify, that just makes me feel so stoked. I still feel really young and I can't believe that I'm in the top 10 right now. Of course I want to do good in this event and my goal is to win, so I want to do everything I can to do that."
The crowd at Praia da Tiririca started to buzz as current CT surfer Jadson Andre (BRA) made his way out to the line-up for Heat 12 of Round 2. Facing Andre were Jean da Silva (BRA), Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) and Stuart Kennedy (AUS), who had just come off a Runner-Up finish at the QS 6000 event in Florianopolis.
However, it was Boukhiam who demanded attention as he destroyed the 2-3 foot (1 meter) walls and obtained an 8.83 from the judges on his best scoring ride. Andre stayed active and was able to squeak past Kennedy by a tenth of a point to advance into the next round.
"I woke up early for a surf here. I spent a long time looking at the waves and I saw some rights breaking farther up the beach," said Boukhiam. "I caught a good one to start off the heat, then I got another good one, but I ended up falling off. I'm just happy that I made it into the next round. I think it's the first time that I had a heat in Round 2 of the QS with such incredible opponents. Stu (Kennedy), Jadson (Andre) and Jean (da Silva) are all great surfers and it was a good heat, so I'm glad I won."
In the following heat, another CT surfer, Ricardo Christie (NZL) ripped apart a lefthander with three huge backside blasts for the highest single wave score of the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival, a 9.17 (out of a possible 10 points). Christie added a 7.93 backup ride for the event's highest heat total of 17.10. Joan Duru (FRA) earned two solid scores in the 7-point range (7.50 + 7.37) to advance into Round 3 alongside Christie over Willian Cardoso (BRA) and Cory Arrambide (USA).
"It really was a good little wave. It wasn't the biggest wave, but it had a double-up. After I took off it doubled in size and it had a bit of power in the sections," said Christie. When asked about his opinion of Bahia:
"It's beautiful here. It's kind of what I imagine when I think of Brazil," stated Christie. "There's beautiful bush, it's right on the beach. The water's really warm. We're here drinking coconut and eating mango, it's pretty beautiful. It's sick."
A call is set for 8 am local time to finish off the four remaining heats of Round 2 before moving on to Round 3. First up will be Michael Rodrigues (BRA), Cooper Chapman (AUS), Oney Anwar (IDN) and Ian Crane (USA).