On Friday morning, Praia da Tiririca provided exquisite, glassy surfing conditions with waves in the 3-4 ft. range (1 meter) to complete the remaining four heats of Round 2 at the 2017 WSL Men's QS 1,500 South to South presents Itacaré Surf & Sound Festival. But as is the case in the northeastern region of Brazil, a tranquil offshore breeze can turn into brisk onshore winds in the blink of an eye.
On top of the windy conditions, the athletes also had to face an incoming tide that made the waves hollower, but consistently close-out as well. Faced with these obstacles, the competitors wisely chose to take advantage of the ample ramps on hand to amaze the audience, and the judges, with acrobatic aerial surfing.
These types of conditions suited Krystian Kymerson (BRA) perfectly. Understanding that his talents above the lip set him apart from the rest of the field, Kymerson felt at ease throwing some of the highest airs of the contest to earn an 8.50 and a 7.75 on two backside reverses for a 16.25; the highest heat total of the day. Advancing in second place was former WSL Championship Tour surfer, Jihad Khodr (BRA) with a 14.15 total, eliminating Wesley Santos (BRA) with an 11.15 and Kei Kobayashi (USA) with an 8.85 in Heat 12 of Round 3.
"It feels great to win that heat. I knew it would be a tough one against Jihad (Khodr), who is very experienced, but I was able to find two good ones," said Kymerson. "The wind was just right to throw those airs and I'm very happy to advance into Round 4 together with Jihad, who is a monster."
Another surfer that performed well in the air today was the WSL South America Rankings Leader, Thiago Camarão (BRA). On his forehand, the Brazilian looked sharp by landing solid airs to earn a 13.55 total from the judges at Praia da Tiririca. Camarão moved into Round 3 with Alan Donato (BRA) advancing in second place.
"It's really tough out there and it's not easy for anybody, but I was able to put up those two good scores to advance," said Camarão. "I had two strategies going into the heat. The first was to catch the best wave…but there weren't any good waves left. The second was to go to the air and fortunately that's what got me through. I injured my knee a while ago and spent 20 days out of the water. My first surf was yesterday, so it felt good to win a heat. I'm really motivated to win the WSL South America title, but my focus will always be winning each heat and any title will be a result of that."
On the other hand, despite having a dependable air-game, Vitor Mendes (BRA) defied the popular strategy on Friday and stuck to his rail-to-rail surfing for the highest single wave score of a 9.00 by destroying a righthand set wave with three consecutive backside snaps in the pocket. Mendes only added a small score of a 4.75 to win Heat 10 of Round 3 with a 13.75 total.
"That was a really hard heat. I wasn't able to find two good waves; just one excellent one, but that was enough to move on to the next round which is my goal in every heat," said Vitor, younger brother of Jessé Mendes (BRA), who has guaranteed a spot on the 2018 WSL Championship Tour by leading the Qualifying Series Rankings. "Conditions are pretty difficult out there. If you can find a good one, it's a really good wave, but they're hard to find because it's so windy. Next heat I'll try to get two nines instead of just one," said Mendes as he laughed it off.
The 2017 WSL Men's QS 1,500 South to South presents Itacaré Surf & Sound Festival will continue tomorrow with an all-Brazilian matchup in Heat 14 of Round 3. Hitting the water will be Marco Fernandez who will face up against Gabriel André, Pedro Neves and Douglas Silva.