For the fifth consecutive season, the QS 1500 Rip Curl Pro Argentina will be the first event of the year on the WSL South America Calendar. Adding to the Easter Holiday festivities, a Women's QS 1000 event is also scheduled to run at Mar del Plata from April 10 - 16. Both competitions will distribute points valid towards the 2017 WSL Qualifying Series Rankings as well as determine who will take the lead in the race for the WSL South America Regional Title.
"For us at WSL South America, it's a privilege and an honor to start off the season with a QS event at Mar del Plata in Argentina," stated Regional Tour Manager Roberto Perdigao. "Last year, the Argentinian surfer Leandro Usuna was able to take home the WSL South America Regional Title after taking charge of the rankings in the events held on the continent. His surfing throughout the year made it clear that the talent level is evening out amongst the countries in South America and it's not just Brazil anymore that is being well represented in competitive surfing worldwide."
Last year, Usuna accomplished two unprecedented feats for his country. First of all, the local legend became the first surfer from Argentina to reach the Final at the Rip Curl Pro in Mar del Plata. Despite the passionate support from his hometown crowd, Usuna was defeated by Flavio Nakagima at Playa Grande. However, Usuna was able to maintain his form throughout the remaining events on the continent to take home his maiden WSL South America Regional Title. As an added bonus, each Regional Champion received the right to compete in all QS 10,000 and QS 6,000 rated events worldwide in 2017.
Up until last year, a Brazilian had won every Regional Title in South America. In 2014 and 2015, the Rip Curl Pro Argentina was an essential springboard which catapulted Alex Ribeiro (BRA) and Robson Santos (BRA) into the WSL spotlight after winning their respective Regional Titles.
"It's extremely important to offer a healthy calendar of events for our sport to continue evolving in other countries in South America," added Perdigao. "Chile, Peru, Argentina and Ecuador have all added to the fire with talented up-and-comers and that's the main reason why we do what we do. It's our job to create opportunities for our athletes to reach the pinnacle of competitive surfing on the World Surf League - The Championship Tour, as well as giving them the chance to live out their dreams of putting on a jersey at the world's best waves such as Teahupoo, Pipeline, Fiji, Bells and Margaret River. It's a pleasure to see that the WSL has such great partners in South America that are willing to develop such a strong calendar of events for our athletes."
The battle for the first QS points of the year in South America will take place at the main site of Biologia, at Playa Grande and will see athletes representing Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Costa Rica and the USA all vying for a place at the top of the podium.
In the first ever Women's QS 1000 at the Rip Curl Pro Argentina, some of the top names that are already scheduled to compete are: 2016 WSL South America Junior Champion Tainá Hinckel, as well as Josefina Ane (ARG). Both athletes represented South America at the World Junior Championship held in Australia. Also set to compete are the Peruvian standouts Anali Gomez and Melanie Giunta, as well as Dominic Barona (ECU) and Lorena Fica (CHL) rounding out the list.