Leilani McGonagle won her first Qualifying Series event today after putting on a clinic in epic conditions at the WSL QS 1,500 Maui and Sons Pichilemu Women's Pro presented by Royal Guard. The 17-year old Costa Rican stomped her way to the winner's podium beating Freya Prumm (AUS) after catching her second perfect 10-point ride of the day. Her victory earned her $10,000 in prize money and 1,500 Qualifying Series ranking points.
The vibe could not be better on Sunday as sunny skies greeted fans that filled the rocky coastline to watch the top Women's QS surfers battle it out in pristine conditions at Punta de Lobos. The athletes were pumped to compete as offshore winds and perfect 6-foot blue waves tapered down the point on Finals Day. What remained perfectly clear today was that the future of women's surfing is in good hands as the latest generation of athletes is riddled with talent.
To begin the Final, conditions at the pointbreak were ideal with the tide providing long, vertical waves down the lineup. Prumm opened up with an 8.17 by throwing lots of spray on superb backhand surfing and McGonagle answered with a solid 7.60. Prumm added another 8.17 for a 16.34 total, which would usually leave any surfer breathing easy.
However, in an instant, things can change. Needing an 8.31, the best wave of the entire event by far came through, breaking perfectly and connecting down the line. McGonagle slid into the wave and threw huge turn-after-turn with the entire crowd cheering along with each huge maneuver. Her performance left the judges with no option other than giving McGonagle a perfect 10.
"I came in second place at this event last year, so my goal was to do even better this year," said McGonagle. "The waves have been so great and there isn't another QS contest that has better waves than here. All of the girls are surfing so well and I'm just stoked to win this Final against a good friend like Freya (Prumm). This is the first QS event I've ever won, so it feels incredible. I hope I get the chance to feel like this a lot more times (laughs). It's out of this world."
McGonagle was visibly stoked with her performance and had this to say about her 10-point ride:
"Wow, I had gotten a wave before but I didn't know the score (8.03), but I was really nervous because I knew there wasn't a lot of time left in the heat. I knew I had to go regardless and once I dropped in, the wall just opened up and it was such an amazing wave, I felt like I was at home," said the Pavones native.
Despite being defeated in the Final, Prumm was still pleased with her Runner-Up result and her performance in Pichilemu.
"I love Punta de Lobos and the wave is amazing," said the Australian. "I got some of the best lefthanders of my life before the contest. A big congratulations to Leilani, she absolutely went to town. I can't believe I let her catch that 10. But that's alright, we live and learn. Thanks to everyone for having me, it's such an amazing country and I wish to explore some more, thank you," Prumm finished.
McGonagle's 18.03 heat total in the Final was the highest of the event. This came after she scored another 10.00 in Heat 2 of the Semifinals against Daniela Rosas (PER). In the heat, McGonagle opened up with a 7.83 on a long left. She followed by catching an incredible wave which she completely destroyed, including a snap between the exposed rocks on the inside section for a perfect 10-point ride.
Rosas was another surprising talent that warranted a lot of attention at the Maui and Sons Pichilemu Women's Pro. The 15-year old Peruvian displayed extremely stylish backhand surfing on the lefts and a professional composure beyond her years.
"I feel amazing. I'd like to thank Trinidad Segura (Event Organizer) for putting on such an incredible event," said Rosas. "I felt like I could have done better here, but that makes me even hungrier for the next contest. I'm still very happy with this result and thank you to all the sponsors that made this event possible."
To get to the Finals, Prumm had to get past Josefina Ane (ARG) who was another standout surfer throughout the event. In Heat 1 of the Semifinals, Ane jumped to the lead after scoring an 8.50 on her first and only ride. In the end, wave selection was crucial as longer lulls affected the heat. Prumm (AUS) caught an 8.00 and the Australian was able to catch a backup ride of a 4.83 for a 12.83 total and a ticket to the Finals.
"I'm a little sad because I had been surfing so well, I caught the best wave of the heat, but then the ocean went flat," said Ane. "I waited as long as I could for my second wave, but it never came through. I'm happy with my result and my performance throughout this contest."
The WSL South America Women's Qualifying Series Circuit continues with the QS 1,500 Neutrox Weekend in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from October 20 - 22 and the QS 1,00 Reef & Paris Women's Pro from October 28 - 29 in San Bartolo, Peru.