- WSL / Damien Poullenot
- WSL / Damien Poullenot
Highlights: Early Rounds Action for QS Top Athletes in Barbados
Competition continues at the Barbados Surf Pro and the performance bar is raised on Day 2 of the event's waiting period.

The World Surf League (WSL) Barbados Surf Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 was called back on today for both the men's and women‘s competition at Drill Hall Beach. In rising 2-4' trade wind-swell the remaining heats of men's and women's Round 1 were completed before men's Round 2 took to the line-up. Competitors were excited to have a full day today, taking advantage of the building swell and consistent surf on offer throughout.

Luke Hynd (AUS) during Round One of Barbados Surf Pro 2018 Luke Hynd - WSL / Damien Poullenot

Posting the highest heat total of the day was the stylish Australian goofyfooter Luke Hynd, from Mermaid Beach, Queensland. Fresh off competing in a run of events during the Australian Qualifying Series (QS) leg, including a runner-up finish at the Tweed Coast Pro in February, Hynd's QS campaign is continuing in good fashion at the Barbados Surf Pro. Even a tricky day of travel yesterday and some missing equipment wasn't enough to keep him from taking a dominant heat win today.

"I nearly missed my flight entirely, but then I got lucky with my board bag, as my best board was in the one bag that made it through for our group," said Hynd. "These waves here feel like some of the novelty left points we get on wind swells at home. When you get a set out there, it's actually a really high-performance wave.

Dane MacKie (BRB) during Round Two of Barbados Surf Pro 2018 Dane Mackie - WSL / Damien Poullenot

"I was in second priority and was just praying there would be two waves and the other guy would go on the first, he did," he said, in reference to his 8.67, the second highest wave score of the day. "My wave was just so perfect and I was focusing on getting my turns done in the pocket. It's easy to want to keep racing this wave, but that's not going to cut it with the judges. I knew it'd be a good score if I just stayed on my board, did the right turns and finished it."

Another of the day's top performers was Brazil's Kim Matheus Marcondes who started his heat in the best possible way, posting an excellent 8.83 on his opening ride. Hailing from the small beach town of Santos in São Paulo, the 19-year-old is embarking on his second year on the QS with the goal of making it into the higher rated events later this year.

Ryland Rubens (USA) during Round One of Barbados Surf Pro 2018 Ryland Rubens - WSL / Damien Poullenot

"I was battling with the other guys for position, because there was no priority in the first minute of the heat," said Marcondes, of his opening ride. "I was able to get the inside position and I caught the wave right away, to get that big score. I thought my first turn was good, then had a nice carve and strong finishing move. I was happy. It's such a fun wave out there, I love it."

The local Barbadian surfers were represented today by Dane Mackie and his older brother, Bruce Mackie. Dane secured a solid heat win in Round 1 this morning and kept his momentum going to advance through in second place in his Round 2 heat this afternoon. Knowing the break at Drill Hall Beach as well as anyone in the field, he battled nerves in his first heat, to feel more at ease in his second, keeping his dreams alive.

"It's all good to go travel, see new places and surf new waves, but there is no feeling like surfing your home break in a QS, especially a 3,000-level event," said Dane. "There is definitely a home court advantage, no matter what the waves are like, it's always there. I definitely know the wave pretty good, but I was nervous in my Round 1 heat. I don't want to lose in my first heat at home, but once the jitters go away I'm way more relaxed surfing at here. During the spring we're usually down on the South Coast. This is definitely the wave I come to on this side, so I surf here a lot. I love this wave and I'm trying to win."

Sophie McCulloch (AUS) during Round One of Barbados Surf Pro 2018 Sophie McCulloch - WSL / Damien Poullenot

2017 WSL North America Junior Champion Ryland Rubens from San Diego, Calif., is making the transition to the QS nicely and rolling with the ups and downs of travel to and from events. The learning curve for the young competitors making their way on the global contest scene is steep.

"I wasn't positive they were going to come, but I was trusting the information we were getting," Rubens said, in regard to his missing board bag. "So, we just got to the airport early and waited it out. My alternative was surfing on a board that is completely opposite of what I ride. I was struggling in my freesurfs and I really didn't want to surf a heat on it. If I had to I would have, but it was really nice to have my own boards today.

"I'm loving the waves here," Rubens continued. "I came to the event last year and didn't do too well, but I did work out a few things with the break and feel much more familiar with it all this time around. The waves are a bit bigger this year and more consistent, so being on the right waves is key. I'm feeling good now and ready to surf a couple more heats."

In a short day of women's competition at the Barbados Surf Pro, where only three heats were contested to complete Round 1, the event's standout performance was from Australian Sophie McCulloch. Having also received her missing bags late last night, her confidence was brimming as she notched the highest scores over the first two days.

With an excellent scoring ride of a 9.17 (out of a possible 10.00) for a series of backhand turns unlike anything the judges has seen thus far in the women's event, McCulloch solidified first place ahead of Basque Country's Leticia Canales Bilbao and Americans Marissa Shaw and Kloee Openshaw.

"I didn't come last year, but I really love it here so far," McCulloch said. "It's such a cool environment compared to a typical QS stop; the water is warm, wave is something different, the beach is beautiful and the people are so cool.

"I started the heat off with a five something and then got my best one that came in as a 9.17," she continued. "I'm focusing on choosing the right waves and actually got that big score under priority. It came a bit further down the reef, but gave me a good opportunity to do some bigger moves. I couldn't hear much out there, so I didn't really know, but I'm happy with how the heat went and look forward to the next round."

Event organizers will reconvene for Thursday's 7:30 a.m. AST call to determine an 8:00 a.m. start for the remaining heats in men's Round 2. Men's Round 3 and women's Round 2, will be on standby to follow.

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