Top seeds made their highly-anticipated debuts and didn't disappoint with near-perfect performances to take this event to the next level. But, while many of the world's best in attendance flourished, upsets were in abundance as Championship Tour (CT) competitors Carissa Moore, Johanne Defay, Lakey Peterson, Pauline Ado, Laura Enever, and Bronte Macaulay were all eliminated.
The superheat of the event featured an all CT affair as Moore, Courtney Conlogue, and Silvana Lima did battle in Round Five, Heat 3. Moore looked to be the favorite after her incredible, near-perfect, Round Four performance, but in the end it was Lima who came out on top in dominating fashion. The Brazilian is fresh off a win at the Los Cabos Open of Surf QS6,000, but now she's here to stake her claim on the coveted Supergirl cape.
"I saw that heat on paper and know I surf good heats, but they're so consistent and I just went out there to do my best," Lima said. "I've been surfing so much at home and it's such a familiar wave that it really helps -- along with my boards working so well. I just enjoy California and this contest, but looking back I ask myself why I am not a Supergirl yet? I want to win this contest, it's my big goal and that's why I am here."
Current CT No. 11 and QS No. 9 Keely Andrew picked apart the Oceanside Pier lineup with back-to-back rounds of near-perfect surfing. The Sunshine Coast, Australia native posted a brilliant 9.50 on her forehand before doing the same in Round Five to earn a 9.17. Andrew's experience at Oceanside and beachbreaks around the world is something she's able to continue building confidence in.
"It's my fifth year here and I feel like this is the first year where I really know the wave just because it changes so much with the tide," Andrew said. "It's starting to click and to know that my boards are feeling good heading into the US Open is great -- and it feels great to post some scores like that. I've got two empty results on the ratings so it's nice to fill it with a decent number, but I just want to keep bettering myself each event whether it's the CT or QS."
California's own Sage Erickson represented well for her family and friends on the beach -- as well as the support system from Oceanside she's accrued over the years. The two-time Supergirl Pro QS Champion has made numerous finals days and continued that form with clutch surfing in Round Four to earn an excellent 8.17 under the five-minute mark to solidify a heat win. Erickson's focus has shifted more toward the CT this year where she currently sits in the Top 10, but is also earning big results so far on the QS in the meantime where she ranks at No. 6.
"This is definitely a contest where my nerves are at ease just knowing I've had success here," Erickson said. "Every year just seeing all the beautiful faces of these girls who come down every year is amazing to see them literally grow before my eyes along with this contest. You don't want your last two waves in the last five minutes, but it's good to know I can get them if I need it and this is great getting dialed for Huntington with such similar conditions -- but my mind is here first."
Caroline Marks continues to impress at just 15-years-old and provided some of the biggest upsets in Round Four by having a big hand in eliminating current CT No. 5 Johanne Defay and Laura Enever in Round Five. The young talent currently sits at No. 15 on the QS rankings and will only be dropping 280 points after this event -- and a chance to continue building her solid foundation already in place.
"I feel really good after training with Foundation Fitness for awhile and I've just been working every single day to prepare for this one so I'm stoked it's paid off," Marks said. "We'll see what happens in the rankings, it's pretty cool to get back-to-back finals day showings at QS6,000s and it's definitely exciting. It's such an incredible experience because these girls are the best in the world and I want to be surfing against them in the future so to surf against them now is amazing."
Leilani McGonagle earned the WSL wildcard into this year's Supergirl Pro and isn't letting it go to waste. The 2016 North America Pro Junior Champion is chasing down her first big result of 2017 and now finds herself into an all-important Round Six. This also marks her last year on the Pro Junior series and every result on the QS helps that much more to set herself up for a much better 2018.
"It's great to get this momentum going and I came into this event with the mentality of just going for it," McGonagle said. "I'm just trying to surf and enjoy it, and worry about the results later because I've really put too much thought on getting results which hasn't helped my surfing. We've had really good wave at home and I've been surfing a minimum of six hours a day which is helping me feel confident so now I'll just keep that frame of mind moving forward."
Other names to keep an eye on in tomorrow's proceedings include CT injury replacement Bianca Buitendag, 17-year-old Meah Collins, former CT competitor and in-form Claire Bevilacqua along with Supergirl threats Philippa Anderson, Kobie Enright and Carol Henrique.
The Paul Mitchell Neon Supergirl Pro QS6,000 will continue its LIVE webcast at 8:15 a.m. PDT with Round Six, Heat 1.