The inaugural SEAT Pro Netanya pres. by Billabong resumed Wednesday following an apocalyptic two-day storm and completed a big day of competitive surfing. Conditions gradually cleaned up to give way to a beautiful bright day and clean waves in the three-to-four foot range.
Competition restarted with the remaining heats of the men's second round and ran all-day through Rounds 3, 4 and the quarters to decide the men's semifinalists.
Mihimana Braye (PYF), 20, continued his exemplary campaign, consistently posting high scores for his polished forehand carves and top turns. The Tahitian, who just finished 5th at the World Junior Championships, carried momentum into this event and is looking for a big QS result to launch his 2016 qualifying assault.
"Waves were so good today, we had two days of bad weather but today the wind dropped completely and there were some really fun ones," Braye said. "I've been working hard for two months before the start of the year so I feel strong physically and confident mentally after my good result in Portugal. I'm excited to be here and I hope I can go all the way, but no pressure -- I just want to enjoy myself and enjoy being here in Israel."
Alonso Correa (PER), 18, claimed the biggest upset on day 5 of competition, eliminating form surfer Batista to advance into the Semifinals where he'll face off with Braye for a shot at the event title. The young Peruvian discretely made his way through the early rounds to finally peak with a victory in a man-on-man Quarterfinal battle.
"I'm exhausted after all those heats, but I'm very happy with my first Semifinal in a QS, it's a good way to start the year," Correa commented. "I went to Portugal for the World Juniors and wasn't satisfied with my result there so I decided to come here. I've competed against Halley for ever and I grew up watching him do the QS, he's an awesome person and surfer, it was a good matchup and I'm happy to have won."
Long time QS grinder Halley Batista (BRA), 29, had previously produced the day's most exciting action with a massive frontside air-reverse for a near-perfect 9.67 in Round 4. The Brazilian unfortunately couldn't keep his rhythm going into the Quarters and placed equal 5th.
"I felt good, I just tried my best in every heat and I got a couple fun waves I'm stoked," Batista stated. "I did a couple of airs and heard the crowd scream so I was happy to get people excited on the beach. The waves really improved today and it was super fun to surf."
Reigning European Champion Pedro Henrique (PRT), 33, rounded up the day's action with an impressive display of his signature sharp forehand carves for one of the biggest combined heat totals of the event so far, 17.57 out of a possible 20.
"It was a super nice day and the waves got perfect by the end there," Henrique said. "It's great to compete a lot in one day, it's excellent training to start the year and a good way to put all the offseason work to a test. My main goal this year will be to try to requalify for the CT so every single event counts, if not for the points then to keep a good rhythm going. Off course I'll be stoked if I can also keep my European title for another year."
Ethan Egiguren (EUK), 21, claimed the fourth spot in the Semifinals, matching his career-high result obtained in Pantin last year, and will look to further improve on finals day.
Bat Yam local Vladimir Merlis (ISR), 30, was one of only two Israeli surfers reaching the fourth round of competition, and displayed mature surfing and exciting maneuvers on his way to an excellent ninth-place finish in Netanya.
"I've surfed in the ISA World Games twice but this was my first WSL event and it was really exciting and I'm very happy with my result," Merlis said. "I'm very thankful for the event to come here and I think it will help build respect to our Israeli surfing community. It was tough to compete against all those excellent surfers, especially cause now I have a job and I can't surf and train as much as I did before, but it definitely motivates me to get better and maybe travel next winter to surf different waves and improve."
Event organizers and surfers will reconvene Thursday at 7 a.m. local time for a potential finals day for both men and women.
Surfline, official forecasters for the event, are calling for the following:
Solid windswell for Tuesday strong onshores in the morning. Local winds ease into the afternoon on Tuesday which allows conditions to improve some. Better conditions and dropping WNW windswell for Wednesday with smaller leftovers Thursday. Minor windswell mix for Friday and into the weekend. Potential for another round of windswell Sunday and Monday.