Friday began with torrential rain at Praia da Tiririca and forced Event Organizers to put competition on hold at the 2015 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. Yet as is the case in tropical regions, the sun shortly returned and the action continued at the WSL Men's QS 6000 event in Bahia, Brazil.
Bruno Galini (BRA) once again kicked off the excitement with a victory as he earned a 16.07 after opening up with an 8.50 and subsequently backed it up with a 7.57 on his two best scoring rides. Galini was able to defeat a stacked line-up of opponents as he dispatched Nic von Rupp (PRT) and Tanner Gudauskas (USA). Soli Bailey (AUS) moved on in 2nd place with a 12.40 total.
"When I saw the heat draw yesterday (Thursday), I knew I had to surf my best to beat these guys," said Galini. "I'd have to at least catch the best waves if I wanted to make it to the next round because everybody rips. I felt like the lefts would be key. I saw Yage (Araujo) getting some in the heat before mine, so I thought I'd do the same. In the beginning I couldn't find anything, but from the middle of the heat on out, I found two good ones to win the heat."
In Heat 5 of Round 3, Jadson Andre (BRA) once again looked to pull rank over QS surfers Santiago Muniz (ARG), Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Derek Peters (USA). Yet it was Muniz who stormed to the lead as he put together a solid heat score of 16.00, which included a 9.00 point ride. Igarashi stepped into action and jumped into second place as he maintained his steady performance in the QS events in Brazil.
"That was a super important heat for me. I mean all the other ones too, but that was a really hard heat. We had a CT surfer and a couple really good QS surfers," Igarashi said. "The waves were pretty good, so I knew there'd be some high scores in the heat. At the end, Santiago ran away with it. And I was bummed for Derek because we're staying together. I just waited for my wave and it came and it went my way so I'm stoked."
Igarashi later shared his perspective in regards to the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival in Itacaré.
"It's beautiful here, an amazing place," declared Igarashi. "I came here 2 years ago when the event was a 4-Star. So I knew this wave had potential to be really good. The tourism board is really supportive and loves surfing, so we're all stoked to be here. We're pretty much in paradise. It doesn't feel like we're competing. There are trees everywhere, coconuts, açaí, good food, white sand and blue water. It feels like we're on vacation, but we've got to make sure that we remember that we're still competing because everyone wants to win."
Only the Top 10 ranked surfers on the WSL Qualifying Series at the end of this year's Surfing Season will qualify for the 2016 Championship Tour. Results at the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival QS 6000 are immensely sought after as the athletes look to solidify their place in the standings.
Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) needs to win the event to make it into the Top 10. Soli Bailey (AUS) and Dion Atkinson (AUS) need to make it to the Semifinals if they want to overcome Maxime Huscenot (FRA) who currently has 15,100 points on the QS rankings. For the remaining athletes in striking range, Evan Geiselman (USA), Davey Cathels (AUS) and Connor O'Leary (AUS) all need to make it to the Quarterfinals to be eligible for qualification.
In Heat 11 of Round 3, O'Leary looked fierce on the waves in the 2-3 foot range (1 meter) and earned the highest heat total of the day, a 16.70 (8.93 + 7.77). The promising young surfer from Brazil, Yage Araujo (BRA) threw a massive air to take second place and advance into Round 4 alongside O'Leary.
"The tide's getting high now, so things are getting a bit slower, but I was lucky to get a few at the start before the boys started to catch up to me," said O'Leary. "I'm currently 22nd right now, so I'm not really thinking about it too much. I started doing the Primes midway through last year, so I'm just kind of going through the motions and trying to get through a few heats."
The intense battle for conclusive positions on the QS rankings will continue on Saturday at Praia da Tiririca. The contest is scheduled to run three rounds of competition and will determine the four Semifinalists that will compete for the title of the QS 6000 Mahalo Surf Eco Festival on Sunday.