A short, yet sweet day of competition unfolded at the men's Rincon 50 Surf Fest with some brilliant performances shining to determine the Quarterfinal draw.
A slight drop in swell still provided clean, two-foot conditions for longboarders to display their poise under pressure and some of the world's elite emerged with vital wins. The women were called off for the day as a big final days awaits in Puerto Rico and competition now shifts into two-man heats until a winner is crowned.
World Longboard Championship Contingent Put on A Show
One of yesterday's standouts Julian Schweizer came out firing on all cylinders once again and took over the Domes lineup with a 14.75 heat total, the highest of the event so far, garnering an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10) and 6.75 along the way. The Uruguayan made his presence known in Round 1 and now is a force to be reckoned with in Quarterfinal action for a chance at shaking up proceedings, but 2x World Champion Piccolo Clemente also advanced, with the highest single-wave score so far of an excellent 8.25, and brings his experience in.
This marks a great opportunity for Schweizer as he prepares for the world's best in just a few weeks' time.
"This is an important event for me since I haven't competed in four or five months so it's a great way to prepare for World Championships in Taiwan," Schweizer said. "Surfing against some of the top guys here is so fun even when the waves were a little smaller and slower, but that 8-pointer was a gift and had the best quality of that heat for sure. This is my dream for my career is to compete against some of the top guys in the world, enjoy new places like Puerto Rico, and hopefully win a World Title one day."
Another one of the world's elite longboarders Tony Silvagni showcased his style and form once again with a 7.75 to solidify a Round 2 heat win. Silvagni is joined by 14-year-old, local talent Zahid Marrero who helped eliminate Silvagni's fellow World Longboard Tour competitor Lucas Garrido Leccaand Costa Rican Anthonny Flores. But, there's still a lot left to surf for and Silvagni's years among the best have him prepared for what's left to come.
"I waited about ten minutes for the first wave knowing what the scoring potential was for bigger sets so quality over quantity worked out in that heat," Silvagni said. "It's also really cool to see the younger generation doing well in the contest as well in both the men and women's events. But, I feel like you have to take each day as it comes just with the surf changing every day and hopefully it's for the better tomorrow. I'm really excited having the momentum going into finals days and just wait and see what's on tap in the morning."
Floridians Keeps the Vibe Alive
Austin Hollingshead continued his great form and earned another vital heat win en route to a Quarterifnals appearance over current World Longboard Championship competitor Kevin Skvarna, also advancing, alongside yesterday's threats Dakota Faircloth and Kenji Gonnokami. It was pure elation for Hollingshead coming on shore knowing he'd secured into finals day with an 11.90 (out of a possible 20) heat total and just looks to keep the vibe going strong.
"I'm on cloud nine right now and can't believe I made another heat," Hollingshead said. "Just even getting to come here and winning my first heat to now this, it's incredible. Honestly I came here with the expectations of just having fun and whatever I got, I got, so to be closer and closer to the Final is great. If the waves do pop up the way everything's lining up to be, it's going to be an amazing day of competition with just two guys battling it out with no hassling in the lineup."
The last Round 2 heat provided plenty of entertainment as yesterday's standouts Kai Hamase and Hollingshead's fellow Floridian Steven McLeanearned their place into Quarterfinal bouts. Hamase earned another heat win, but it's McLean who has the opportunity to claim a spot into Taiwan and showed he's ready for a vital finals day. The New Smyrna Beach, Florida, native has shined at Pro Am events up and down the coast, and brought that competitive flow into WSL competition for only the second time of his career.
"That was definitely a nail-biter heat after trying to figure where to sit with two different peaks, but it's great to make it through," McLean said. "I've been waiting a few years for this opportunity and took a job straight out of college so if I can make it to Worlds then I'm ready for that transition. I don't really know how to describe what it feels like to have a chance at making that next step, it's just amazing."
Get caught up with women's opening day action as a North America Regional Champion will be crowned Saturday.
A 7:30 a.m. AST call will determine a possible 8:00 a.m. AST start to Quarterfinal action.
The Rincon 50 Surf Fest will run from November 15 - 18 at Domes, Rincon, Puerto Rico.