NewsLos Cabos Open of SurfSamantha Sibley

Leilani McGonagle Sets the Tone at Zippers

Tropical Storm Bud passed by today and the sun returned to Costa Azul's scenic coastline for the Los Cabos Open of Surf Women's QS 6,000. The swell still remained, providing three-to-four foot conditions and competitors took full advantage with strong performances. Competition raced through the remaining five heats of Round 1, all of Round 2, and the first six heats of Round 3 before the sun started to set.

Leilani McGonagle (CRI) winning her Round 3 heat at the Los Cabos Open of Surf. Leilani McGonagle returned to the shores of Los Cabos on fire. WSL / Andrew Nichols

Costa Rica native Leilani McGonagle wasted no time showcasing her dominant backhand attack and earned a 15.34 (out of a possible 20) heat total. McGonagle's familiarity with this wave rivals some of the QS's best after competing here since 2015. While the 18-year-old hasn't found a breakthrough result here just yet, a win at the Women's Barbados Surf Pro QS 3,000 earlier this year marked her first-ever QS win. She is currently sitting at No. 21 on the rankings.

"It felt so good just to surf after waiting all day for my heat and dealing with the storm yesterday," McGonagle said. "It's always nice to start off with some higher scores in fun waves, but I have to keep my focus and that's in the past now so I have my sights on the next heat. To have that Barbados result gives me a lot of confidence knowing I've got those points locked in and now I want a result here so I can be in the top 24."

From Bali to Mexico, Carol Henrique's Hungry for a Result

Carol Henrique (PRT) winning her Round 2 heat at the Los Cabos Open of Surf. Henrique's forehand was refined during her time at Keramas. WSL / Andrew Nichols

Carol Henrique arrived in Mexico straight off a recent wildcard at Stop No. 4 of the Women's Championship Tour (CT), the Corona Bali Protected - Women's, and got to work right away with an excellent 8.50 (out of a possible 10). Henrique started with a 6.17, but ended the heat with a 14.67 heat total to seal a great start in Round 3.

"I was really wanting those outside waves and was being patient for them so it feels great that it worked out," Henrqiue said. "This is one of my favorite places to come, there's waves everywhere and it's always a great time. I had a lot of time to train on my backhand at Keramas for the CT and just went for it. These 6,000 points are huge and you have to surf against the best if you want a result here. I want to be on the CT and I'm just learning to not overthink because that's what always gets to me, so I'm excited to get more heats here."

Melanie Giunta Looks for More Los Cabos Momentum

Melanie Giunta (PER) winning her Round 2 heat at the Los Cabos Open of Surf. Giunta's best result came as an equal 17th in 2016, but she's aiming high this year. WSL / Andrew Nichols

South America continues to produce surfers and Melanie Giunta is a prime example of that with great surfing in her opening Round 2 heat. The Peruvian garnered an excellent 8.17 and backed it up with a 6.50 on her powerful backhand. Giunta matched Henrique with a 14.67 heat total and prepares for a vital Round 3.

"I was pretty nervous just with first heat jitters after not being able to surf my heat for a few days," Giunta said. "But, the waves are so fun today and I'm really happy to get another heat out there just with three other girls. I love this wave and when you're in a heat you want to catch every single wave out there. After talking to my coach, he told me to just look for that one big turn so those were the waves I waited on and it felt really good to open up."

Upsets Begin

Samantha Sibley (USA) winning her Round 2 heat at the Los Cabos Open of Surf. Samantha Sibley continued the goofyfooter's dominance with a debut win. WSL / Andrew Nichols

One of 2017's top North America Pro Juniors, Samantha Sibley, displayed more potential to start her Los Cabos Open of Surf campaign with a big heat win. The 15-year-old didn't get the result she wanted in the women's Pro Junior event and continues to struggle at that level, but her QS presence remains strong. Sibley added to a few early upsets after eliminating higher-seeded surfer Chelsea Roett.

"I'm definitely fired up after losing early again and it's super fun out there," Sibley said. "It was really nice to start in Round 2, which is a first for me, and to skip that first round to avoid those big waves on Wednesday. This is my favorite spot on the QS by far, it feels like a vacation here with the warm water and fun waves. That was cool to win that heat after Chelsea [Roett] did so well in Barbados and I'm really excited to surf against some older girls - maybe even some CT girls."

Isabella Nichols avoided an early exit in Round 3 in her heat with Tia Blanco, who couldn't find that same luck and was eliminated alongside the day's top seeded surfers Ellie Brooks, Frankie Harrer, Freya Prumm, Josefina Ane, and Nagisa Tashiro.

Event organizers will reconvene at 7:00 a.m. MDT for a possible 7:30 a.m. MDT start for Round 3 Heat 7.

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