The forecasted swell made its way to Zippers for the third day action that witnessed near-perfect scores and upsets at the World Surf League (WSL) Los Cabos Open of Surf Women's Qualification Series (QS) 6000. Completing the remaining heats of Round 4, the women then contested Rounds 5 and 6 in their entirety with two-to-four foot waves sweeping through the lineup.
Round 5 introduced the Top Seeded surfers who were dealt a handful of big upsets and also impressive performances to set up the two-man heats of Round 7 as a champion of all the Women's QS6000, Junior Men and Women evets will be crowned.
Last year's Women's QS6000 runner-up Silvana Lima (BRA) came out firing on all cylinders in her opening Round 5 heat. Posting the event's highest single-scoring wave of 9.60 (out of a possible 10) and backing it up with another excellent 8.50, the Brazilian powerhouse earned the highest heat total of the event with an 18.10 (out of a possible 20). Flying down the fast-paced line of Zippers, Lima read each wave to near perfection.
I felt much better about the conditions coming into today after looking at the small waves yesterday," Lima said. "My boards are working really great right now and my confidence went up after getting that awesome ride. I really enjoy getting speed going on this wave with my first turn and that sets up a big second turn."
"This place feels like home to me and I'm really comfortable out in the water which helps me surf better," Lima added. "The culture here is amazing, we get along with everyone and they make my experience here so great. I'm stoked to make it through and keep surfing because I love this wave and hoping it only gets better."
Brisa Hennessy (HAW) is on a tear in Los Cabos, earning a Round 6 win over Chelsea Tuach (BRB) and Melanie Giunta (PER) with an excellent 9.00. The young Hawaiian has looked to be in great form with a win in Round 5 over Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW) and taking nothing for granted at this event. Humbled by this opportunity, Hennessy has a chance to gain valuable points in a major QS event despite her main focus still on the Junior Tour.
"I was lucky enough to get that big score early on in the heat and that helped relieve a lot of stress," Hennessy said. "It was pretty scary going into a heat with Chelsea who's on the CT and Melanie who's just been ripping this whole event but it was just a perfect wave. I think you could've gotten a 9 no matter how you surfed it and I hope I did it justice. This is a great learning experience surfing against the CT and Women's QS veterans - learning priority and just taking everything away from this I can."
Fellow Hawaiian Summer Macedo (HAW) began her campaign in Round 2 and has broken new barriers in her career with a Round 7 appearance. Earning two heat wins today with an 8.50 in Round 5 and 8.83 in Round 6, the 15-year-old topped former CT competitor Pauline Ado (FRA) and one of the QS Top Seeds, Brianna Cope (HAW). It's an experience she won't be forgetting and has a chance to make a big statement on finals day tomorrow.
"I was just going for broke on that last wave at the end of the heat and surf my best," Macedo said. "I started early in this event and definitely felt at the bottom of the pack. In all the QS events I did last year, I couldn't make it past Round 2 so I've never surfed against the Top Seeds. But, I just had that mantra of you can do this and I think surfing those earlier rounds helped me a lot.
"More time in a jersey is great just learning so much with each heat - had I started in Round 4 I'm not sure I would've done as well and had the rhythm," Macedo added. "It really came down to a wave catching contest today, if you were on the best wave that came through it just gave you a great chance to win so I stayed patient but didn't want to get caught waiting too long after seeing some girls lose that way."
Also starting in Round 2, 14-year-old Florida native Caroline Marks (USA) clinched a spot into Round 7 and just one other girl in the water. Posting a 9.00 in Round 5, Marks looked poised amidst the Top Seeds she has been in events with last year - such as Malia Manuel (HAW) whom she beat in the process of advancing to Round 6.
"It was nice to a few heats in before going into the bigger heats and get a feel for everything," Marks said. "Coming up against a girl like Malia that I look up to was amazing and just wanted to bring my best surfing for that matchup. My strategy has been the same all event and I'll take that into the two-man heats as well - just get the best waves. You want to stay busy but you really want the best wave so it's hard . You have to be really smart out there and be on the waves when . I've surfed a bunch with priority and it's just really a good experience I'm always learning no matter what. So stoked to make finals day. I have some good points
Capping off an incredible day of surfing, defending Junior Women's Champion Isabella Nichols (AUS) found two remaining gems Zippers had to offer and posted a 15.57 in Round 6. Nichols played a vital part in one of the major upsets today in Round 5, eliminating Coco Ho (HAW) in the final ten seconds needing a very minimal score. Sitting at No. 23 on the QS ratings, the 18-year-old Aussie has a chance to make up some important ground toward a qualification spot.
"It's refreshing to get a proper heat win after my last heat was super slow and barely got through it," Nichols said. "I thought I was done needing a score as the buzzer sounded and just tuned into that wave -- I don't even remember it really. I felt kind of bad because I know she wanted that last wave but having priority is how competitions work out in the end - she's just an incredible surfer and all these girls push me to my best surfing."
Finals day coverage begins at 8am on the loscabosopenofsurf.com website. Tune in and see who claims the 2016 Los Cabos Open of Surf Women's QS6000, Men's and Women's Junior titles by day's end. Download the WSL App for live updates and a link to the webcast.