Opening day at the ASP 4-Star Mahalo Surf Eco Festival presented by Skol began with waves in the 3-to-4-foot range (1-meter) at Praia da Tiririca in Itacare, Brazil. Competition commenced with the men's division.
For the second of three events of the year-end Brazilian leg, over 140 athletes representing over 17 different countries are in Itacare to participate in the Mahalo Surf Eco Festival. Due to the constant tidal changes at Praia da Tiririca, local knowledge paid off for several athletes in Round 1. Alandrerson Martins (BRA) earned the highest single-wave score of the day with an 8.75 in Heat 12.
Representing the latest generation of Brazilian surfers, 19-year old Erick Moraes (BRA) was able to qualify into the next round with his performance in Heat 1.
"I'm so happy that I made it past the first round and I hope to keep it up for the next few days," said Moraes. "It's not easy to find a quality wave out there, but I did the best I could. It's a great opportunity to compete in a QS event here in Bahia, so I'm stoked to have started out well."
Representing South America, Rafael Pereira (VEN) took control of the lefts at Praia da Tiririca to win his heat with a 13.50 total.
"I'm stoked to be back in Itacare and win my first heat," said Pereira. "It's a bit difficult to find the waves that connect, but I found a few that let me let loose. I came to this same event last year and I didn't do very well. But I feel more confident in getting a better result this time."
The top seeds in the men's division will only enter in Round 3. Current World Championship Tour (WCT) surfer Adriano de Souza (BRA) won the first-ever Mahalo Surf Eco Festival in 2008, which was held at Praia do Forte in Bahia. However, De Souza suffered a knee injury during the event at Supertubos, in Portugal, and has withdrawn from this year's contest. Willian Cardoso (BRA), who sits in 12th on the ASP Qualification Series (QS) ranking, now becomes the top seed at the event.
Local surfer Silvana Lima (BRA) is currently leading the QS rankings in the women's division and has already qualified for the 2015 WCT. With the pressure off, Lima has high expectations for surfing in front of her hometown crowd.
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