Day 6 of the SEAT Pro Netanya pres. by Billabong was greeted by clear blue skies and clean waves, allowing the women's Quarters and Semifinals to run and decide the last two surfers in contention for the inaugural Israeli title.
Recent winner of the Women's Shoe City Pro and early leader of the 2016 WSL Women's Qualifying Series, Maud Le Car (FRA), 23, continued to impress with her dynamic surfing despite the small conditions and claimed her spot for the final.
"I feel great right now, everything seems to be going my way at the moment so I really enjoy myself," Le Car said. "I'm taking it easy, no pressure and try to focus on myself rather than my opponents, it makes a difference. I have incredible boards for small waves and have spent the winter in St. Martin surfing similar conditions so I'm comfortable. I look forward to the final and hope I can take it out again, I'll just keep trying my hardest and try to find the right waves."
Camilla Kemp (PRT), 19, recent Quarterfinalist at the Ericeira World Junior Championships, overcame Caitlin Griffin (USA) in the Semis and reached her very first Final of a QS event. The young Portuguese's forehand attack on the clean little righthanders was on point and Kemp got active in the early stages of the matchup to control the heat and eventually take an important win.
"I'm so happy, I'm over the moon, this is going to be my first final and I can't wait to surf again," he said, ecstatic. "I had a good start with two good waves and tried to keep building but couldn't find many more opportunities. The conditions were really fun at first but it slowed down a little bit towards the end."
Carol Henrique (PRT), 20, had a stellar campaign in Netanya but was eventually stopped in the Semis, unable to capitalize on her explosive surfing, and placed equal third. The young Portuguese claims a career-high result and will bring confidence to her Australian qualifying campaign in the coming weeks.
"Of course I'm a little disappointed but that's how competition goes, you win some you lose some," Henrique reflected. "Maud surfed really well so congrats to her. I'm going to stay here a few days to watch and support my brother who's in the semis too and try to enjoy our last few days in Israel."
Local talent Anat Lelior (ISR), 15, reached the Quarterfinals of this inaugural Israeli Qualifying Series stop but unfortunately couldn't match Le Car's momentum and placed equal fifth.
"I'm really happy with this result, it was super fun to compete here at home," Lelior said. "Waking up everyday I couldn't believe I was actually competing in a QS in Israel, but it's awesome to see everyone who came to support the event and thankfully we got some really fun waves! My sister Noa did great as well I'm so proud of her and we both had a good time competing."
Following the completion of the women's Semifinals, competition was called off and organizers decided to run the final of the AirMerrick & GoPro Freestyle session. Competitors took on a fun lineup of clean one-to-two foot peelers and went big, with aerial maneuvers and massive turns.
Eventually it was Mihimana Braye (PYF), 20, who took out the first prize of US$1,000 for a big full rotation air-reverse on a tiny wave. Braye managed to build up speed and really project into his maneuver, impressing both the judges panel and the public enjoying a sunny day at the beach.
"I really didn't expect to win this, I mean all those guys are so good at airs," Braye said. "I thought we were going to run the main event today so I was ready to go and I'm stoked to take this session out. I was super relaxed and just having fun and that's how I surf the best so I'll try to keep the same frame of mind when the event restarts and hopefully I can win a couple more heats."
Due to a complete lack of swell anticipated for Friday, event organizers and surfers will reconvene on Saturday at 10 a.m. to reassess conditions for a potential final day.