PUNTA ROCA, La Libertad/El Salvador (Wednesday, July 10, 2013) - The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 6-Star Reef Pro El Salvador ran a marathon day of competition, with top seeds posting the event's high scores in firing six-to-eight foot (2 metre) waves at the Central American gem of Punta Roca.
The Reef Pro El Salvador represents one of only three ASP 6-Star events on the 2013 Men's calendar, playing a vital role in surfer's qualification campaigns for next season's ASP WCT as well as a spot in the coveted ASP Prime rated events.
Brazilian powerhouse Willian Cardoso, 27, reveled in the long walls of Punta Roca, unloading the day's high single-wave score of 9.80 out of 10 with a strong display of flawless forehand railwork to take a commanding Round 2 victory.
"This wave is so good," Cardoso said. "It's my first time here and I'd only seen a couple of photos. You can't even imagine how good it is. When you get one of the good sets, it's unreal. My first wave I did three turns and the score was okay. On my second wave I did big snaps and that one was the 9.80."
Cardoso, an alternate on the 2013 ASP WCT, has struggled to find a rhythm recently, suffering Round 1 exits in the last three qualifying events. The regular-footer is out to reset his campaign at the Reef Pro El Salvador and hopes his Round 2 success is a sign of things to come.
"I lost first round in my last three heats," Cardoso said. "I'm really happy to get through that first round and it felt good to get some good scores."
Stu Kennedy (AUS), 23, fresh off of a Semifinals finish at the ASP Prime in South Africa, immediately found his form at the Reef Pro El Salvador, belting the day's high heat total of 18.67 out of 20, compliments of an impressive variety of forehand maneuvers.
"I got in yesterday afternoon and came off of the third off of South Africa," Kennedy said. "Coming here I was worried about keeping my form because I put so much energy in to that event and I kind of changed my strategy because it's just so hot and I'm not used to it. I took it a little easier in that heat and it's just too easy to surf right now. The waves are so perfect."
Gabriel Villaran (PER), 27, who is well respected for his big-wave abilities, proved equally dangerous in the high-performance walls of Punta Roca. The Peruvian regular-footer would drive through two deep-barrel sections, punctuating the ride with a committed floater, earning a 9.67 and a win over ASP WCT talent Josh Kerr (AUS), 28, who would advance in second.
"It's tough because the waves are pumping and you don't want to fall or do a bad turn," Villaran said. "You want to do a good turn and ride the whole wave. It's the best feeling ever making heats and getting good waves. The forecast looks amazing and I'm just happy and having fun."
Wade Carmichael (AUS), 20, continued his Latin American hot-streak, belting a 18.07 out of 20 heat total with seamless forehand turns to secure his berth in Round 3.
"I felt so much better after my boards came in this morning and these waves are as good as it gets," Carmichael said. "It's clean with a little crumble on the lip and I had a ball."
Fred Patacchia (North Shore, HI), 31, led the day's goofy-foot effort, utilizing his years of experience among the world's best surfers to ignite the flawless walls of Punta Roca with incredible backhand power.
"I had a blast out there," Patacchia said. "This is my first time in El Salvador and I've been having so much fun. The rights down here are just awesome. There are long, really fun waves. I'd love to have another heat out there. I feel really good on my backhand and I approach it similar to J Bay. You really don't need to fit in too many turns. You really want to just pick your spots. I know I passed up a couple of turn sections to get to the ones I really wanted and that's my strategy. I just want to make sure the sections I'm looking for."
Patacchia, who was absent from season opening ASP events due to injury, is nearing full-recovery and is hungry for a win at the Reef Pro El Salvador.
"I'm here to win," Patacchia said. "I missed the entire first half of the 'CT, Primes and 6-Stars because I was hurt and I'm really playing catch up. It's really nice that we have a 6-Star in some good surf and we're not groveling."
The Reef Pro El Salvador holds a waiting period from July 9 - 14 and is webcast LIVE via http://www.beachbyte.com/aspna/elsalvador13/