A picturesque day greeted another packed crowd as they headed down to Praia da Joaquina for Day 5 of the WSL QS 6,000 Hang Loose Pro Contest. Several heavy names went down throughout the day. However, the athletes that most needed a boost to their qualifying series rankings were all able to advance, as well as solidify their campaign to make it onto the Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour in 2017.
Event favorites Gabriel Medina (BRA) and Adriano de Souza (BRA) were both eliminated in Round 5. Medina went down to Soli Bailey (AUS) in Heat 1 by a score of 16.67 to 15.66, while De Souza was eventually defeated by Jadson Andre (BRA) in an intense back-and-forth matchup that ended in a score of 17.84 to 16.40 in Andre's favor.
While the two Championship Tour standouts are safely within the qualification cut-off for next year's CT, Kanoa Igarashi (USA) struggled to obtain high-caliber results on the CT and has had to grind it out on the QS. But after defeating Soli Bailey in the Quarterfinals, Igarashi has amassed 19,300 points and according to WSL Tour Manager Al Hunt, is confirmed to contend against the world's best athletes on the CT in 2017.
"That was a really big heat for me and everything kind of feels like a dream," said Igarashi. "But sometimes you can do some of your best surfing when you're not focused in the moment. Last year I was kind of in the same position. I won the QS 6,000 in Bahia and qualified for the CT and it was so emotional. I feel like I've been able to secure my position for the CT next year and it's an amazing feeling."
Igarashi is now in 3rd position on the QS rankings and will depart for Hawaii with less pressure on his shoulders. Ian Gouveia (BRA) is another athlete that was able to add on to his point total by making it to Round 5. Despite being defeated by Miguel Pupo (BRA), Gouviea has moved to 6th in the rankings with 18,410 points and is also set to make his debut on the CT.
"This was an amazing event," said Gouveia, who is sponsored by Hang Loose. "I was pretty excited to earn some more points here and go to Hawaii a little more comfortable, but I didn't get the result I had in mind. It's still good because I dropped my lowest score. It's pretty amazing to be competing at home in front of this crowd and receiving all this support. I'm so stoked."
Deivid Silva (BRA) won the QS 6,000 event last year in Florianopolis at Praia do Santinho. Silva is on a tear and ready to defend his event title after taking out Mitch Coleborn (AUS) in Round 5 and Miguel Pupo in the Quarterfinals. With his Semifinal berth, the young Brazilian has reached 11th on the rankings with 14,680 points and is on the doorstep to entering the top 10.
"I feel super comfortable here in Floripa," declared Silva. "Competing in Brazil is like competing at home. I have great memories from last year and I'm so excited to make it to the Semis. My goal is to make it to the CT, but first I need to get into the top 10 on the QS. I've already dropped my lowest score and I'm focused on making it as far as I can here."
Jadson Andre (BRA) has had a rough year on the CT and needs an expressive finish to 2016 to remain on the elite tour. However, Jadson's talent-level has never been questioned and displayed his ability by earning the highest totals of the event. In his Round 5 heat against good friend Adriano de Souza, Jadson acquired a 17.84 total, which included an 8.17 and a 9.67. He later took out Frederico Moraes (PRT) to make it to the Semifinals.
"It feels great to win that heat," Andre said. "I knew it was going to be another tough one against Frederico (Moraes), who is a super nice guy. He always treats me well when I'm in Portugal and I told him he would do well in Hawaii, but I'm still stoked I won. I don't want to overthink it. I just want to keep doing what I'm doing, which is improving my score with each heat. Now just one more heat till the Final."