The SEAT Pro Netanya pres. by Reef resumed today in clean, small surf, and ran through one more round of both the men and women's events.
Marissa Shaw, a relatively unknown face on the WSL tours, won her second consecutive heat, to make her way into the event's Quarterfinals, begging the question: who's that Californian girl that rips?
Hailing from San Clemente, California, the 25-year-old grew up and developed her surfing alongside the likes of Championship Tour surfers Sage Erickson, Courtney Conlogue, Lakey Peterson and Carissa Moore, but took a different road than her peers and ended up in a non-surfing career. That left her wondering, what if she had taken that surfing act more seriously?
Repeated, dare we say boring, days at the office were all it took for Marissa to start wondering and make the decision to give the Qualifying Series a shot, embarking on a worldwide trip, chasing after points and prize money.
"I'm turning 25 this month and I was like: I have a steady career, I can keep doing this. Or I could take a chance. And if I spend all my money, or too much money, then I can always go back to work and say that I tried and have it be a vacation. So I'm looking at it this way, it's either going to be a vacation or I get to have a mini-career out of this, that would be cool."
But for all the dreams-come-true scenarios, it's easy to forget the not-so-glamorous road traveled and hurdles on the way. Launching a career on the WSL takes time and a little thing called "seeding," which is keeping Marissa in lower-ranked events, in terms of points available, at least for now.
"I'm signing up for as many events as possible," she said. "My problem for now is not having enough points to get in most. Originally I wanted to get into the Shoe City Pro in Huntington but I couldn't, so I signed up for here. It's really cool because I would have never thought to go to Israel."
Coming to Netanya for the first time, the Californian wasted no time getting acquainted with the conditions.
"I wasn't even sure there was surfing here but there is and it's super fun! I love it, the weather is so much better than at home at the moment. The waves we had so far are the best I've had in a while."
When the event resumes, she will face one of the strongest European surfers on the QS, Carol Henrique, for a spot in the Semis. While this might be a tough matchup, she knows she can count on the support of the crew that with her in Israel, which includes surfers Paul Pugliesi, Peterson Crisanto and Kloee Openshaw.
"Coming to a place I've never been to before, it was really important for me to come with people who have, like Paul, it makes me feel more comfortable."
With inspirations ranging from her fellow Californian women's CT stars to current WSL Champion John John Florence, Shaw's surfing has already turned heads in Netanya. She could very well be a force to be reckoned with in 2017.
"Seeing all the girls I grew up competing with on the CT now is really cool," said Shaw. "They were 100 percent committed from the start and it's inspiring to see where that took them. I know I'm a few years behind them because I did my detour going to school and all that, but I don't know. It could still happen."
And whatever the result she gets when the dust settles in Israel, the positive thinking she's expressed suggests that she's only getting started.
"I'm going off of savings and I knew that coming into it. Whatever prize money I get goes into it and I'm trying to be as budget-friendly as possible. It was either take a chance and do this, or just keep going to work everyday for the rest of my life."
Alongside Shaw, most of the event's top seeds in Israel confirmed their solid form today with the likes of Pedro Henrique, Gony Zubizarreta, Tessa Thyssen, Camilla Kemp all advancing through to the rounds.
Surfers and event officials will reassess conditions Saturday at 8:45 a.m. and potentially launch the third day of action.