PUNTA ROCA, La Libertad/El Salvador (Tuesday, July 9, 2013) - Opening day of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 6-Star Reef Pro El Salvador kicked off in building four-to-six foot (1.5 metre) waves at the righthand pointbreak of Punta Roca, completing the opening 16 heats of Round 1 with some amazing performances from an international field.
Dillon Perillo (Malibu, CA), 23, winner of the previous 6-Star in Los Cabos, got off to a quick start in the flawless pointbreak conditions, detonating the day's high single-wave score of 9.33 out of 10 for a searing combination of frontside turns. The Californian would struggle to find a backup score throughout the heat, but eventually solidified his position in Round 2 with an additional second score.
"I got that one really good one but then I couldn't back it up, so I could have easily lost," Perillo said. "Luckily third and fourth didn't get a wave and I got one in the end. It worked in my favor, I guess."
The opening heat success in El Salvador represents a rebound result for the stylish regular-footer after a shocking Round 1 exit last week in Acapulco. Perillo hopes to build on his early round success as the event progresses.
"Tomorrow's going to be really good when the swell hits and frontside down the line is simple, you just need to connect the waves," Perillo said. "It feels good to make that first heat. This event is a 6-Star, so I'm happy with that first win, but I want to make a few more heats."
Wade Carmichael (AUS), 20, who won his maiden ASP Men's event in Acapulco last week, maintained his form among the flawless walls of Punta Roca, combining polished forehand power-turns to notch the day's high heat total of 16.70 out of 20.
"I hate first rounds, the nerves get to me and you have to just hopefully get it done and get through," Carmichael said. "It was pretty slow the whole time I was watching and it definitely pulsed in our heat. Everyone got two or three good ones."
The Australian's heat win was especially impressive, as Carmichael was forced to surf on borrowed equipment while waiting for the airline to deliver his lost baggage.
"I was freaking out before my heat because my boards haven't arrived yet and I'm riding a borrowed board," Carmichael said. "I got two good waves on this board this morning and it felt good. I just tried to stay positive."
Caio Ibelli (BRA), 19, led the Brazilian charge with an electric Round 1 performance, combining a wide array of powerful turns and committed airs to solidify a convincing Round 1 victory.
"I was trying to be patient because I knew if you just get one good wave out there it could be a really important score," Ibelli said. "My first wave was a really good set, and my second one, I got a smaller section and it was a really good wave. I had so much fun out there. You have to be careful though because it's so hot that you can run out of energy so quickly."
Ibelli, who enters the Reef Pro El Salvador following a solid 9th place finish at the recent Prime event in South Africa, is traveling with heightened confidence and hopes his opening heat acts as a momentum builder for the remainder of the event.
"I'm definitely carrying some confidence from South Africa," Ibelli said. "South Africa was really good for me. It's my best result in a Prime and it was good for my confidence. Right now, I'm just really happy. The waves are pumping so I couldn't be any more happy to be down here."
While several of the day's top scores were earned with impressive frontside surfing, Manuel Selman (CHL), 24, dismantled several Punta Roca set waves with powerful backhand combinations. The Chilean has put in multiple trips to El Salvador throughout his young career and feels at home in the El Salvadorian lineup.
"It was a little funky the heats before, but it cleaned up for my heat and I was happy to get a few good ones," Selman said. "My last one was really good. I have experience out here from the previous QS events and the Latin events so I feel really comfortable out here. I'm getting a lot of local support and it helps a lot with the confidence out here."
Joshua Moniz (HAW), 17, was one up-and-comer to post a strong opening performance at Punta Roca, taking a commanding Round 1 win over the top seeds in his heat. The young Hawaiian is a new face on the men's ASP Qualifying Series and hopes to gain some valuable experience against some of the world's best surfers in the upcoming rounds.
"It's super hard out there because everyone wants the first set and everyone is pushing each other really deep," Moniz said. "I just let everyone go and snuck over and it worked out. I got lucky and got a couple of sets. I'm happy to make that first heat. There are a bunch of 'CT guys in this event and it's going to be fun."
The Reef Pro El Salvador holds a waiting period from July 9 - 14 and is webcast LIVE via http://www.beachbyte.com/aspna/elsalvador13/