A beach teeming with fans, sunny skies, offshore winds and waves in the 3-5 ft. range (1-1.5 meters) were on hand at Praia de Maresias to begin the 2017 WSL Men's QS 3,000 Hang Loose São Sebastião Pro. A total of 70 surfers hit the water as 24 heats were carried out to finish off Round 1 as well as the first eight heats of Round 2.
Remarkable conditions were sustained throughout the day but no one could surpass the 15.67 heat total that José Francisco (BRA) obtained in Heat of 7 of Round 1. Known for his explosive aerial prowess, Francisco displayed a powerful rail game in addition to sniffing out the first barrel-ride of the day to advance into the next round.
"I was able to find a good barrel, and with this offshore wind, conditions were perfect for getting tubes," said Francisco. "I knew I was going to get shacked since it was going to double-up, but it was that 7.00 at the end that got me through. Thankfully I'll be moving on, but I've still got those airs up my sleeve, so I can definitely use them if I need to."
Later on in Round 1, Matheus Navarro (BRA) earned the highest single wave score of the day with an 8.43 after throwing repeated backside snaps on a long-running lefthander. Navarro added a 6.33 for a 14.76 total, advancing into Round 2 alongside Cristobal Montecinos (CHL) in second place.
"It feels great to be competing here," said Navarro, who is only competing in his second event all year. "I lost my sponsor at the beginning of the year, so I haven't been participating in many contests. Actually, I'm not even sure if I'll be competing full-time next year. So, to be able to come here, see all my friends and still win my heat with a high-score feels incredible."
As Round 2 began, the young high-flyer Yagê Araujo (BRA) felt right at home in Maresias to win Heat 1 with a 13.40 total, advancing into Round 3 with Roberto Araki (CHL) in second, eliminating Jackson Santos (BRA) and Renan Argemiro (BRA) from the competition.
"Regardless of how big an event is, you're always nervous before your first heat and that can stress you out," said Araujo. "To add to that, there were some long lulls during my heat and I fell on two waves I should have completed. Luckily, I got that 7.50 and a 5.90 to win the heat. The wave here is fast and hollow, just like my home-break at Praia da Tiririca, so I felt comfortable in these conditions and I'll be ready for Round 3."
Advancing into Round 3 in the following heat was the compact Californian, Kei Kobayashi (USA). After having to wait for Round 1 to finish off, Kobayashi was frothing to get out into the line-up.
"I was super stoked to make that heat," said Kobayashi. "Everyone was surfing so good and I knew that going into it I needed at least two 6's. The waves looked really good, so I was fired up to surf. I've been kind of having a shocker these past few events, so it feels really good to get through. Now I'm just trying to get a higher seed so I can surf with all my friends in the 10,000's and 6,000's."
And to finalize the day, Weslley Dantas (BRA) showed off his heavy-footed power surfing to earn a 15.56 on his best two rides of a 7.23 and an 8.33 to win Heat 6 of Round 2. Despite having a few similar characteristics, the younger brother of Championship Tour surfer Wiggolly Dantas commented on their differences.
"The wave here is really steep and has powerful barrels, so I was able to fit my power surfing into the pocket," said Weslley Dantas. "But since the offshore wind was strong today, I didn't want to risk throwing any airs and focused on keeping my rail in the water. I spoke with my coach and we both agreed that it was the best strategy for today."
When asked about the differences and similarities between his surfing and his brother's, Dantas added:
"I think I'm more radical than he is, and it's always been like that since I was a kid. I like to throw different kinds of airs and tailslides, but I think he's better in the barrel. But we both have a similar go-for-it attitude when it comes to competing," Weslley finished off.
The 2017 WSL Men's QS 3,000 Hang Loose São Sebastião Pro is scheduled to begin at 8:00 am on Friday morning with Heat 9 of Round 2. First in the water will be Facundo Arreyes (ARG) facing three Brazilians: Gustavo Ramos, Guilherme Marques and 14-year old Diego Aguiar.
The event's top seeds including heavy-hitting Brazilian Championship Tour surfers Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira, Miguel Pupo, Ian Gouveia, Jadson André, Wiggolly Dantas and Adriano de Souza will all see action tomorrow.