Day 3 of the Copa El Salvador Impresionante presented by Body Glove Women's QS6000 event saw continued fun swell and conditions for the women to deliver more high-performance surfing. After completing the remaining heats in Round 3, Round 4 then hit the water for head-to-head action at the point break of Punta Roca. The Quarterfinals are set, and the QS Rankings leaders are looking to strengthen their position atop the rankings.
Lighting up in her Round 4 appearance, Sage Erickson (USA) put together a highlight reel of incredible surfing. The California native used her point break knowledge to post the contest's highest heat total thus far with an 18.17 (out of a possible 20). Erickson had Isabella Nichols (AUS) comboed after the first ten minutes and showed no signs of slowing down, posting a 9.50 (out of a possible 10) on her final wave.
"It felt really good to get a win after seeing a lot of the top surfers lose because they were out of rhythm," Erickson said. "Conditions are tricky here with the incoming and outgoing tides so to be in rhythm was great. One of the biggest things in competitive surfing is momentum and putting up decent scores makes it even better -- in time things can change but I'm happy to have some big heat totals."
Erickson's desire to requalify is on the forefront of her mind as she continues to move up the rankings in the QS -- despite a rough Championship Tour (CT) year. Currently ranked no.4, she now takes over the no.3 spot with both Laura Enever (AUS) and Coco Ho (HAW) eliminated from competition. But, there is still plenty of work to be done here in El Salvador.
"It's pretty surreal having a challenging year on the Championship Tour," Erickson said. "Doing these events is really one of my only options so it's been a challenge, but it's also been very exciting -- those memorable fights to the end from the underdog are always great. I'm just trying to hold onto what I have and take each heat as it comes."
Sitting comfortably at No. 2 on the QS, Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) was full of energy in the last heat of Round 3, posting the round's highest heat total of 15.15 (out of a possible 20) and its highest single-wave score of 8.17 (out of a possible 10). The Australian was elated to connect critical maneuvers and get rewarded for her efforts, knowing there was plenty of work to be done for the day.
"It was so fun in the morning," she said. "This wave is amazing and I was stoked to give it my all. Getting some decent scores and really getting the day going was all you could ask for out there. Anyone can get a score out here when the waves are this perfect."
Van Dijk continued to showcase her powerful forehand in Round 4, defeating one of the event's lower seeded threats, Stephanie Single (AUS). Not going down without a fight, Single did not make things easy for her fellow Aussie, and kept the heat close until the final horn.
"Coming up against my good friend Steph was fun since she's been surfing so well," Van Dijk said. "We had a couple good ones and it was really tough going against her -- I'm absolutely exhausted right now. I'm looking forward to tomorrow morning and couldn't be happier getting into another Quarterfinal."
In the final minute of her heat, Keely Andrew (AUS) had her back against the wall facing CT surfer Coco Ho. Finishing off her wave just as the horn blew, Andrew made her way onto the rocks a victor, earning an 8.00 -- needing a 7.86 to take the lead. These two have been pitted head-to-head in the past a few times, most recently in Los Cabos where Ho took the win, and is becoming an in-water rivalry.
"That was really nerve-wracking," Andrew said. "Coco is such a good surfer and she had me from the start. I knew I needed a score and got one last opportunity -- thankfully I capitalized on it. We've got a bit of a rivalry going since we're always surfing against each other so I was stoked to get one back on her. Getting that last wave makes you realize that almost anything is possible and definitely gives me more confidence moving into the Quarterfinals."
Tune in LIVE here to see who will be crowned the 2015 Copa El Salvador Impresionante Champion tomorrow beginning with the Quarterfinals Sunday at 7:30 a.m. local time.