The second annual Barbados Surf Pro men's and Barbados Surf Pro women's Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 kicked off a short day of competition for both the men and women at Drill Hall Beach. After consultation with event directors and competitors, it was determined that just a handful of matchups could be fairly contested following a majority of competitors' equipment being held up in transit, due to a tight turn around between events. The waves were fun and competitors agreed that this was the best outcome for the day. In the end, Men's Round 1, Heats 2, 5, 8 and 11, as well as Women's Round, 1 Heats 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 were completed today.
In the first heat of the morning, Florida's Tommy Coleman got things rolling with the highest heat score and wave score of the day, with South Africa's Matthew McGillivray also advancing through in second position. The 16-year-old goofyfooter has been tearing up the North America Junior Series over the last year and is making the transition nicely to the men's QS. The conditions at Drill Hall today suited him nicely.
"I took off on my first wave and fell right away, so I ended up sitting out the back with priority for a while and then that set came through and it worked out for me," Coleman said. "I was lucky to get my 8.67. It was the best wave of the heat and it felt good to put together a few good turns on the outside and then finish it strong down the reef on the inside bowl. I've been here for a few days now and the surf has been really fun, so I'm happy to get through and get another heat out there."
Fellow East Coaster Luke Gordon, from South Carolina, also put on a great display of competitive savvy at Drill Hall Beach today. Two good scores -- a 6.03 and 6.37 -- were enough for him to seal the heat win over the international field, including local standout Barbados' Bruce Mackie, Japan's Daiki Tanaka and Basque Country's Ruben Vitoria. Making the overnight trip all the way from the Jack's Surfboards Pro in Huntington Beach, California, on Sunday appeared to have no affect on the 18-year-old.
"I felt pretty good out there after those flights," Gordon said. "I was able to get a surf in last night which was fun, but it's quite different in your heat. You have to be on the set waves to get the scores. In the freesurf sessions you kind of ride whatever, but in that heat I got the good ones and my back leg was shaking by the end; it's such a long wave. I love it on the south coast, with all these lefts that are really playful and go forever."
The final five heats of the day were contested by the women, with Costa Rica's Leilani McGonagle reigning supreme today on her way to posting the highest heat score and single wave score of the day in Heat 2, ahead of Meah Collins, Rachel Presti and Lucia Martino. Growing up on the world-famous Costa Rican point break known as Pavones, McGonagle was feeling right at home in the Caribbean reefs. With an 8.33 (out of a possible 10.00) in her scoreline, the judges clearly recognized the quality of her surfing.
"I was so happy to surf today," exclaimed McGonagle. "I absolutely am loving this wave. Growing up on a left definitely makes me feel comfortable here. Drill Hall (aka: Brandon's) is familiar yet technically very different to Pavones. I got to surf here on one of days of the last swell and couldn't stop smiling. I hope it gets like that during the comp because there will be some hammers dropped. This wave is amazing and I'm just thankful to be back in Barbados and surfing such fun waves for an event."
In reference to her top scoring 8.33, McGonagle added, "I waited for a nice set wave with priority and it came. I was able to do a couple bigger maneuvers out the back and connect through to the inside bowl to finish the wave nicely. I have been trying to push my maneuvers more and more, which definitely paid off for me on that one."
Following the day's trend of heat wins by the North American teens, San Clemente's Samantha Sibley also took top honors in Women's Round 1, Heat 4 ahead of Hinako Kurokawa, Melanie Giunta and Julie Nishimoto. Reaping the rewards of traveling to Barbados early and catching last week's swell, Sibley looked right at home in her debut.
"I had a couple slips-ups early in the heat, so I had to reset to find my groove," said Sibley. "After that, I got two decent waves that were really fun and I'm stoked to have won the heat. I've been here for a few days and got surfed out on that last swell. I was also here last year for the event and just learning a bit about how the smaller days could work in a heat was a great experience to draw from today."
Event organizers will reconvene for tomorrow's 7:30 a.m. AST call to determine an 8:00 a.m. start for the remaining heats in either men's Round 1 or women's Round 1, with Round 2 for both on standby.