It was a day for the books as two former Championship Tour (CT) competitors Claire Bevilacqua and Alessa Quizon vied for the first-ever women's Qualifying Series (QS) event on Barbadian shores. But, in the end it was Bevilacqua who claimed the ultimate victory in nail-biting fashion.
Bevilacqua needed an 8.10 going into the final exchange with Alessa Quizon and emerged victorious with an 8.40. The Australian battled through sickness and discomfort to claim the ultimate prize of 3,000 points -- and now sits in the Top 5 leaving the island of Barbados. Bevilacqua had her taste of the CT seven years ago for a two-year stint and, at 34-years-old, she still retains passion for her return.
"'What just happened' is pretty much going through my head right now. Getting those waves in the last few seconds never happens to me," Bevilacqua said. "They either don't come or I choke on them, but just breathing and pulling everything together really helped -- I kept telling myself it's not over and it's incredible to come out of that with a win. The younger generation makes me want to be better everyday and I'm just going to keep doing this until my back gives out or I'm back on Tour."
Alessa Quizon had to overcome some obstacles of her own, including local Barbadian Chelsea Roett in the Quarterfinals and Caroline Marks in the Semifinals -- while suffering a knee injury during the day's action. But, the Hawaiian did not show any vulnerability and had the Final all but won until the final exchange. Quizon left the Barbados Surf Pro QS3,000 with the same mentality she came in with and has a great year ahead of her.
"It feels good to make a Final, I just had little things in my head bugging me with my knee and just kept telling myself to power through," Quizon said. "It was difficult picking the good waves and at the end she got the better one so it was a great match up. I came here with no expectations and just to be in the jersey so to leave here with a second, which is equal to almost a Quarters in a QS6,000, feels really nice."
Just missing out on the Final, Caroline Marks went down swinging against Quizon and the 15-year-old walked away smiling after a great event to keep in the memory bank. The Melbourne Beach, Florida-native still has plenty to learn and isn't in any rush for results as she continues to grow.
"I'm really stoked to have this opportunity and so happy with a third-place finish at this event with all these girls here -- it's amazing," Marks said. "To surf against Alessa [Quizon] was so great, she's one of the tougher girls in the draw and if I was going to lose to anyone, at least it was to someone who's been on Tour. I'm really competitive so of course I want to win every heat, but this is all a learning experience for me and I'm just having a lot of fun at these events -- I have so much great support, I'm really blessed."
Fellow Semifinalist and young gun Brisa Hennessy put on great performances throughout this event, only earning one runner-up spot en route to the Semis behind Bevilacqua. But, the 17-year-old is taking it all in and preparing for an important year early on in her career -- leaving the Junior Tour behind for a full QS schedule.
"It was great to see the waves get better throughout the day and I'm pretty stoked on a third, even though I'd always like to go one more it's okay -- I'm just learning and growing each event," Hennessy said. "That's my mindset heading into this year since it's my first one really focusing on the QS so I'm just trying to do my best and hopefully get some results. I just want to stay busy this year with the QS3,000s and 6,000s to see how I do, but mainly just to build my seed for next year. This is my dream and I just want to give it my all."
The next women's Qualifying Series event will be the Los Cabos Open of Surfing QS6,000 June 6 - 11.