Seventy athletes from eight different countries hit the water on Tuesday to begin the WSL Men's QS 1,500 Rip Curl Pro Argentina in Mar del Plata. After completion of Round 1, the event's top seeds showed off their stuff and decimated the field down to only 32 remaining athletes.
The reigning 2017 WSL South America Pro Junior Champion, Mateus Herdy (BRA) has now graduated to the Qualifying Series and was the day's standout surfer by scoring a 13.50 total after throwing an expressive aerial maneuver to earn an 8.00 from the judges. The young Brazilian will now match up against Nahuel Rull (ARG) and Brazilians Vitor Mendes (younger brother of CT surfer Jesse Mendes) and Renan Peres in Heat 7 of Round 3 when competition continues.
Having won the first edition of the event in 2013, Jihad Khodr (BRA) also looked super comfortable at the beachbreak at Playa Grande near the jetty known as Biologia. He threw strong frontside hacks in the windy 2-foot waves to advance in 1st place in Heat 3 of Round 2.
"I only arrived late last night and I'm still a little tired, but I know this wave really well and I feel extremely comfortable surfing here," Khodr said. "I found a couple of good rights and even though it was small, being in the ocean is always a blessing, so you just have to find that connection when you're competing. I tried to catch as many waves as possible and I'm happy that I made it through."
Later on, all attention gravitated towards hometown hero Leandro Usuna (ARG) as he surfed his first heat of the competition. The 2016 WSL South America Champion admitted that he felt pressure to do well after not having a strong start to the 2018 season.
"Man, I finally made a heat!" said Usuna in his typical self-effacing humor. "It's been tough this year because I've been eliminated in all of my first heats in the events I've competed in so far. I'm stoked to be surfing at home with all of my friends and family cheering me on. Conditions changed really quickly, but I had my eye on some of the rights that were breaking and they gave me the opportunity to get some good scores and advance into Round 3."
In addition to the 1,500 Qualifying Series ranking points on offer to the winner, the athlete will also receive 1,000 points valid towards the 2018 WSL South America Championship rankings. The race for the title began in San Bartolo, Peru and has Alonso Correa (PER) atop the rankings. But with Correa opting not to compete in Argentina, the entire field of competitors has the opportunity to tie or overcome the Peruvian in the rankings. We'll see who will step up in the following days at the WSL Men's QS 1,500 Rip Curl Pro Argentina in Mar del Plata.
As a combined event, a Women's QS 1,000 competition will also take place during the event window which shall be decided on Easter Sunday on April 1st.