The first WSL horn in fourteen years on the shores of Costa Rica sounded Wednesday morning to get the Essential Costa Rica Open Pro QS3,000 underway in terrific conditions for men's Rounds 1 and 2. Plenty of excellent scores, meaning they were 8.00 or higher, and high-performance surfing was witnessed throughout opening day as the sun began to make its descent into the Pacific Ocean.
For many of the competitors, this is their first time on the exotic shoreline of Esterllios Este, and the country of Costa Rica -- something all of them are relishing to the full extent.
Brazilian Wesley Leite picked apart the Esterillos Este lineup and began his campaign with the highest single-wave score of the day with a 9.03 (out of a possible 10) en route to a Round 2 victory. Leite earned his backup score of a 7.00 and also posted the highest heat total of opening day -- a 16.03 (out of a possible 20).
"I've been training on a beach that has a lot of rights which has helped me prepare for this one and I'm so stoked to make that first heat," Leite said. "I've got good boards under my feet and I'm having a great time here so far. I was watching all the waves and I preferred to go on my backside to really attack the lip for those high scores. It's definitely building my confidence with that win and I'd really like to keep going in this event for a few more heats ."
Representing the Mignot surfing family proudly, Nomme Mignot kicked off the Essential Costa Rica Open Pro Men's QS3,000 in Round 1 Heat 1 with an impressive performance -- notching an excellent 8.27 to win his opening heat. The Sayulita, Mex. native continued that form into Round 2 with a second heat win later in the day on a lower tide, still finding the gems to see himself through in to Round 3.
"It's so good to be back here in Latin America and I'm stoked to try and do well in this event after I didn't get a result in Cascais," Mignot said. "I feel relaxed here with the warm weather and palm trees lining the beach, what else could you ask for at a QS? It really doesn't feel like a QS just being in this setting which is great. It's my first time to Costa and I'm loving it here, this wave is so fun and can't wait to get more heats under my belt for this event."
A name not seen in too many contests in 2016, Imaikalani Devault proved he's still a threat to some of the QS elite. Devault put his patience to great use, only catching three waves, but finding an excellent 8.50 in the process. The Hawaiian showcased powerful maneuvers in critical sections on the outside of the wave and claimed a big win over fellow QS threat Jack Robinson as Che Allan earned runner-up on his final scoring wave.
"I was just trying to find the best waves out there with only twenty minutes and so much room out there," Devault said. "That 8.50 was a pretty random set wave and felt great to be able and find one -- same thing with the backup wave. The wave changes a bunch between tides even though it's still really fun and I just watched it for a while before my heat. It's so great here, Costa Rica is everything I thought it would be and it's really good to have waves here for a QS."
Someone who has been on the QS grind this year, and currently sits within a qualification spot into the Championship Tour (CT), is current No. 5 Bino Lopes. The Brazilian needs a result here to drop his Equal 37th from the Vans Pro, 650 points, and came out firing with two heat wins to begin his event.
"I'm super happy to win my heats today because this is an event I'd really like to try and win," Lopes said. "This is my first time here and I love the Pura Vida vibe. The warm weather and mellow atmosphere reminds me a lot of my home in northern Brazil so I feel really comfortable here. The waves are really fun and it should be a great event this week that I'm looking forward to."
Joaquin Del Castillo and Sebastian Correa capped off an incredible day of competition and represented their fellow countrymen proudly. Del Castillo fired off an excellent 8.43 with his vicious forehand attack that put him clearly in front when the final buzzer sounded. The Punta Hermosa-native will look forward to a big event with high aspirations and a level head to compliment.
"This is the first time I've surfed this wave and I like it so much," Castillo said. "I've got the support of my friends from Peru and it's so great -- just really happy to have made that heat. My goal would be to make the Quarterfinals or better and to win this event would be incredible. It's a great opportunity to build up points and try to make it into the primes heading forward. It'll be a really difficult event but I'm so stoked to be here and have fun, that's the most important thing to me."
Tune in LIVE for all the 2016 Essential Costa Rica Open Pro action at 8:00 a.m. for either Round 3 of the men or opening Round 1 of the women at www.worldsurfleague.com.