The Brazilian Storm stole the show in Costa Rica as top seeds made their debuts in Round 4 of the Essential Costa Rica Open Pro from the first-goings with numerous excellent, to near-perfect, rides ridden. With Esterillos Este consistently providing opportunities, it was a no-holds-bar affair to set up a pivotal Round 5 draw.
GuarujÃ, Brazil-native Deivid Silva led the charge with an incredible display of aerial assault and resounding finishes to his waves. The inclement weather couldn't put a damper on his shining performance - posting a Perfect 10 with a tail-high, full rotation that he was able to ride cleanly out of before finishing the closing section. Silva currently sits at No. 14 on the WQS rankings, after being relegated from No. 8, and is anxious to make it back into the Top 10 for a chance at qualifying for the Championship Tour (CT).
"That was a really fun heat, some of the waves were offering some good sections for airs and I'm just so happy to get a ten on that final wave," Silva said. "It reminds me a lot of home and I train in these conditions every day I can and stoked to turn that into a heat win. This is a super important event for me with 3,000 points, but I'm feeling confident and just focused on the task at hand."
Immediately following that heat, fellow Brazilian and current WQS No. 4 Ian Gouevia earned a win to continue his chance at solidifying himself within the Top 10 for a chance at CT qualification.
"I look at this contest as the most important one in my career," Gouevia said. "It's a big opportunity to gain valuable points and I played the wave catching game at first, but couldn't better my five as hard as I tried. But, I decided to be patient and wait for a good wave which paid off in the end. We have a great group of guys down here supporting each other and I can't wait for my next heat with all these guys who are ripping right now."
Luel Felipe nearly achieved perfection first, boasting a 9.93 prior to Silva's performance, and followed up with a 7.00. Currently sitting at No. 81, the Brazilian still has his ambitions set high and wants to earn a big result here in Costa Rica.
"That heat I started off pretty well with two good scores but it felt amazing to get that nine at the end," Felipe said. "The waves were really fun this morning and I just kept building my scores -- really just waiting for a good one and so stoked it came. This is a really big contest since there are still a lot of points up for grabs with the 6,000 in Brazil and two 10,000s in Hawaii so I'm still keeping my hopes for CT qualification. But, it starts with this contest so I need a good result here first."
Lucca Mesinas continued the trend of excellent surfing and boasted a near-perfect 9.43 of his own, backing it up with an 8.93. With Kilian Garland and Taylor Clark both eliminated in Round 4, Mesinas has the opportunity to claim the North America QS title with a runner-up finish at this event. But, the Peruvian has bigger ambitions on his mind.
"I'm really just surfing and having fun," Mesinas said. "If I win the North America title that will be great, but these points are important and I'm keeping my focus in every heat as it comes. Before my heat I saw there was really good left to the north so that became my plan and I just went straight there. I'm confident in my backhand coming from nothing but lefts in Peru where I live."
"I couldn't really hear my scores but I felt good in my surfing and knew those scores would be pretty good - it's great to know I got a 9 and an 8," Mesinas added. "I always come and surf about forty-minutes before my heat to really try and find out where the best waves are and how they are. Everyone rips so you just have to choose the right waves in order to come out of these heats."
Jorgann Couzinet rounded off the near-perfection list with an impeccable 9.10 en route to his Round 4 debut win. Couzinet found the same lefthander that Mesinas milked for nearly all it was worth, but the Reunion Island-native took all that it offered and turned it to gold.
"This is my first time to Costa Rica and I'm absolutely loving it," Couzinet said. "I didn't hear the scores I got and when I finally did, finding out it was a nine, it was so nice. Coming into the first heat I was pretty relaxed and feeling comfortable out there knowing the wave would deliver something for me and I'm so happy to be moving on into the next round."
The event was brought to an abrupt halt after Tales Rodrigues saw a crocodile in the lineup of Esterillos Este, Costa Rica, in Round 5 Heat 1. The lifeguards patrolling the waters on jetskis sprang into action and circled around Rodrigues to ward off the crocodile as Rodrigues, Santiago Muniz, Luel Felipe, and Tomas Fernandes made their way to shore.
Rodrigues was pointing to the water where he saw the crocodile breach in his proximity after making his way back to the lineup. Fortunately, Rodrigues remained physically unscathed by the incident, but was badly shaken up.
"All of us are extremely grateful that no one was seriously injured in the lineup today," North America Tour Manager Brian Robbins said. "Rodrigues' quick actions to make the water safety aware was amazing and the water safety team's rapid response was truly commendable. The safety of our athletes is of the highest priority for the WSL and the decision was made to call the contest off for the day immediately. We want to express our utmost gratitude to the water safety team for their support and helping keep our athletes safe."
"I ended my wave and was paddling back strongly when I saw the turbulence in the water," Rodrigues said following the incident. "It was about the size of my surfboard. I have no words to describe what I'm feeling right now, it was truly terrifying."
The contest did not recommence following the sighting and event organizers will reconvene at 6:30 a.m. local time to assess the lineup with the water safety team. Jetskis will continue patrolling the lineup as they have since the start of the event for safety measures and athlete assistance.
A possible 7:00 a.m. start will be determined following a go ahead from the water safety team for the completion of men's Round 5 Heat 1 before women's Round 2 gets underway. Tune in live for all the action on the shores of Esterillos Este.