The World Surf League (WSL) Barbados Surf Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 was called back on today for the men's and women's competition at Drill Hall Beach. Under cloudy skies and periodic rain, a steady 2-4-foot swell with clean winds provided competitors with a fun day of waves, and performance levels rose. Round 4 of the men's and Rounds 2 and 3 of the women's event were completed in their entirety.
After a lay day yesterday, the Women's Barbados Surf Pro returned to action today, completing Rounds 2 and 3, setting up tomorrow's Quarterfinals. In some of the cleanest conditions imaginable at the typically wind affected Drill Hall Beach, the local competitors Chelsea Roett (BRB) and Chelsea Tuach (BRB) found their form. Alongside standout performances from Mahina Maeda (JPN), Samantha Sibley (USA) and Summer Macedo (HAW), to cause the upsets of both the defending event champion Claire Bevilacqua (AUS) and the top seed Philippa Anderson (AUS).
Familiarity with the waves at Drill Hall has worked for men's competitor Josh Burke and is looking to be an advantage for Chelsea Roett as well. Winning two heats today and posting the highest heat score and wave score of the day, the part-time teacher is in top form.
"It's pretty good out here right now, all the waves are opening up and the offshore (wind) is making it so clean," said an enthusiastic Roett, after her Round 3 heat. "I've been training hard for this contest, surfing out here a lot to get ready and I'm really looking forward to the Quarterfinals tomorrow. Going into that heat, it's all about getting the best waves. It's less stressful with priority and only one other person, but there is no second place. If it stays like this, we're going to have a really fun day."
Former Live Like Zander Pro Junior champion Leilani McGonagle (CRI) is translating her past success at the world renowned Barbados wave of Soup Bowl to the South Coast. With three heat wins under her belt thus far, her routine is proven, and confidence is starting to take over nerves. Men's QS competitor and brother Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) is coaching from the sidelines and the 18-year-old goofy foot is drawing attention after posting an excellent score of an 8.50 on her Round 2 heat this morning.
"I feel really happy to be making some heats," said McGonagle. "I've had a rough start to the year, so it's nice to finally be getting some high scores for my surfing. I definitely get really nervous if I don't have a score and I'm waiting for a long time, so I try to make my first waves count. It was a bigger set wave and I was able to link two committed maneuvers together and I think the judges are always looking for quality turns. It was just the two moves, but that was enough to get an excellent score."
Matching Roett's 8.67 today was 21-year-old Japanese competitor Hinako Kurakawa (JPN). Benefiting from incredible rhythm with the ocean, she matched her opportunity with a standout performance on the way to taking the win in Round Two Heat 3.
"I got the 8.67 and I was surprised," said Kurokawa in her post heat interview. "It felt good to be rewarded and that got me the heat win."
Advancing through to the Quarterfinals in second position behind fellow Japanese competitor Maeda in Round 3, Kurakawa is loving her time in Barbados and ready for her match-up with the Costa Rican McGonagle.
"For sure, I'm really happy to be in the Quarterfinals," added Kurokawa. "That is a really good result for me. I'm looking forward to tomorrow. Perfect waves with just two people sharing is an amazing experience for me, I've never had that before."
Kicking off the day was men's Round 4 and posting the highest combined score of the round was Seth Moniz (HAW), who dropped two excellent scores on the way to a 16.74 heat total. The youngest sibling in a heralded surfing family, Moniz was in rhythm during his heat. Boosting airs and even finding a little tube ride, it was a dominant performance for the 20-year-old today.
"It's fun to start off a heat like that," Moniz said with a smile. "I took off on a close- out right and was just thinking to go for it and ended up sticking a big full rotation air for an 8.17, so I was pretty comfortable from the beginning of the heat. Then I backed it up with another good score and after that I could just push it. I ended up getting my best score at the end of the heat on a really nice left. It all just went my way, which isn't always the case. It helps your confidence for the next rounds to be relaxed and put up scores like that, and I hope I can keep doing it."
As the last remaining Barbadian surfer in the men's event, Josh Burke (BRB) picked up right where he left off yesterday, posting the highest wave score of the day, an excellent 8.67 in the first heat of the day. With two heats behind him now, the anticipation of the event is creating less stress for him, as his momentum builds. Employing a new strategy, his tactics played out well to earn him a dominant heat win and a spot into the Round of 16.
"I was a little nervous today because the waves were hard," said Burke. "The tide is dropping still, and it was looking pretty slow in the freesurf. I changed up my game plan. Instead of sitting deep today I sat wide and pushed the guys up the reef. Then I took a little wave to reposition away from them and ended up getting a 5.00 to start. After that I was able to get back up the reef and secure first priority and wait for that set. It worked out well and I'm happy to make my heat."
Progressing through his fourth heat of the event today Gatien Delahaye (FRA), who posted an excellent score of an 8.17 to finish ahead of fellow Frenchman Jorgann Couzinet (FRA). A resident of the neighboring Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, Delahaye has been visiting Barbados for years now and is feeling great about securing his best result of 2018, thus far.
"Making it through the Round of 32 is a good result for me," said Delahaye afterwards. "I just want to keep doing what I'm doing. I know I only need two waves, so I'm going to stick to that and not change my frame of mind. I'm feeling better and better every heat and to come up against the big names, it feels good to get those scores. I'm proud, but don't want to talk too much, just surf."
Perennial standout and one of last year's top performers at the inaugural Barbados Surf Pro, Evan Geiselman (USA) from New Smyrna Beach, FL is ready to strike. Advancing through two heats in second place thus far, the dynamic goofy-footer knows it's about surviving in the early rounds.
"I'm just grinding through with seconds in these first two heats, but I'm still alive," said Geiselman. "That heat today was better than my first, for sure. I got here from Martinique early and it was firing, but I think that's made my expectations too high for the heats. I gave Alejo (Muniz) an 8.00 on a smaller one, so I need to get a freesurf in tonight and reset my gauge for good waves a bit."
Event organizers will reconvene for tomorrow's 7:30 a.m. AST call to determine an 8:00 a.m. start for the men's Round 5 or women's Quarterfinals.