A few surfers came into the Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro looking for a swing of momentum in the right direction this weekend and a handful of them did just that on opening day.
Everyone involved arrived at the Oceanside Pier not expecting much in terms of swell as the forecast looked to be best this weekend, but were greeted to a pleasant dose of fun conditions to kick things off. It was a massive day of competition that included Rounds One, Two and Heats 1 through 6 of Round Three finished before the final horn sounded.
Samantha Sibley put together a show-stopping performance to begin her Supergirl Pro account with the an 8.00 on her first wave and followed it with a 9.00. This marks the 14-year-old's second full season on the QS ranks and she's continuing to find her way through heats with razor-sharp surfing.
"I just went out in my first heat feeling no pressure and wanting to have fun, while also keeping busy," Sibley said. "There are some flat spells so I wanted to build my house and that's what I ended up doing in both my heats -- starting with okay scores and just improving from there. This gives me a lot of momentum and I just want to carry that through my next heats, and hopefully get a good result."
New Zealand's Ella Williams found some magic of her own to open up her campaign with an 8.83 in Round Two and continued that form into a Round Three win. Williams had a taste of the Championship Tour (CT) earlier this year at Bells Beach and didn't take it for granted. Now, the New Zealand representative takes her knowledge from that experience and tries to find a rhythm heading into the back-half of 2017.
"I've had a harder year this year so it's already a bit of a bonus for me and I'm just so excited we have waves," Williams said. "Surfing at the CT level was such an incredible experience and it's amazing how much you can actually learn from them -- now it's just onwards and upwards. It's exciting to get a start like this and just being here with my dad makes it that much better."
Seventeen-year-old Meah Collins came into this event in need of a big result and is on her way to doing just that. The 2016 North America QS Champion charged through all three rounds with victories in each heat displaying a powerful forehand that went unmatched in Round Three. This already marks her best showing in 2017 after a slow start as looks to continue her form once again.
"I feel really great after fighting all day and the waves were really fun, you just had to find it out there," Collins said. "It was a really bad start to the year and I think with finishing high school, and being so focused on that, I was just out of rhythm and out of shape. I've been training so hard the last few weeks and I've never felt so physically prepared for a contest. It's proved to me that's what it takes to win heats and I'll keep working hard."
Tia Blanco emerged victorious from the final heat of opening day over fellow San Diego County surfer Tiare Thompson, who posted the day's highest single-scoring wave of a 9.17. The 20-year-old took control of the heat with vicious forehand attacks in front of her hometown crowd. Blanco still searches for her breakthrough result in 2017, though poses a threat each time she puts a jersey on.
"I just knew I had to surf my best and wanted to perform well with my family and friends all here to support me," Blanco said. "Now it gets even harder and I'm so excited to surf against some of the best women in the world. We're super fortunate to get this swell and it's awesome to be in a familiar environment surfing a wave I train at all the time."
Event organizers will meet at 7:00 a.m. PDT to determine a 7:30 a.m. PDT start for Round Three, Heat 7.