World Surf League (WSL) events in Mexico are scarce, but the country, particularly Acapulco, has proven time and time again that the summer swells can provide a solid venue to host the Qualifying Series (QS). Opening day of the Hurley Surf Open Acapulco QS 1,000 fired into action at Playa Revolcadero in fun, two-to-four foot, increasing swell that shows promise once more for an eventful weekend of competition.
Competitors scorched through Rounds 1, 2, and 3 with plenty of big performances on hand and a strong debut from the Mexican contingent looking to do their countrymen proud.
Alan Cleland kicked off a string of brilliance as he overtook one of the top-seeded competitors Lucca Mesinas, who also advanced, with impressive surfing in Round 3 Heat 1. The Pascuales, Mexico native has grown up surfing the heavy beach break and it has helped shape his surfing with a growing power-game. Cleland's forehand served him well to close out a stacked opening heat.
"The waves are super fun and there's only four guys out, it's insane," Cleland said. "Winning the junior division of the Surf Open League event last year here is great motivation to try and take this one out. It means a lot to be doing these events and it helps to surf against guys on that next level. I'm learning whether it's a win or loss and it's just fun."
Fellow Mexican representative Dylan Southworth kept his countrymen proud with a blazing performance of his own over an in-form Nolan Rapoza. Rapoza dropped one of the day's first excellent scores, with an 8.33 (out of a possible 10), to take an early lead, but Southworth fought his way back from third and blasted an 8.37 to secure a vital heat win. The Sayulita native hasn't been able to compete in the QS since last year's Surf Open Acapulco event, but is prepping for a kickstart to his 2018.
"There's nothing like some Acapulco waves when the swell is filling in so I'm stoked to make it through," Southworth said. "It's all about finding that wave and doing work on it. My first few waves were good, but I couldn't connect so to get those last two and finish them off was key. It's always great to be in Acapulco, or anywhere in Mexico. Unfortunately I haven't been able to go to any events this year, but we have ISA in September and it's great to get the competitive drive back."
"It's great, all my friends from my hometown [Puerto Escondido] are here and it's such a good vibe with all of us," Williams said. "Everyone is on the same level, just stoked. We're all on the edge of our seats, clapping and hollering for one another every heat. This is my first QS of the season after taking some time for myself and I'm in a good mindset, and I just want to surf."
Alonso Correa All Smiles
Peruvian Alonso Correa continued the Latin dominance with the day's best heat total, a 15.14 (out of a possible 20), earning an excellent 8.47 of his own. Correa continues to hit the QS hard this year, competing in 12 events so far, and is looking for more consistent results to compliment his win on home soil earlier this year. An early heat win certainly boosted Correa's confidence as he came into the beach.
"You can't really beat this -- warm water, fun waves, and it felt good to get things going right away," Correa said. "This is my first time here and I'm loving it. I was surfing back home where it's cold and bad waves at the moment, so I'm super stoked to be here. I've surfed a lot of events this year and I'm learning you have to enjoy it. Now I'm just focusing on my surfing and my heat, and just having fun. Hopefully I can get a good result here and keep building this year."
Santa Cruz's Sam Coffey Breaks Through
Sam Coffey rounded out the day's top performers, posting the day's highest single-wave score of an excellent 8.60 in the dying seconds to move from third to first. Sam, younger brother of Ben who also advanced in to Round 4, hails from one of California's most esteemed righthand pointbreaks of Steamer Lane and was able to trade booties for the temperate waters of Acapulco this week. The 18-year-old completed one milestone in life just weeks ago and now preps for time on the road, and a few competitions.
"I felt my foot slip and just had to hold on with everything I had," Coffey said. "I knew I needed to do an air or something big, I couldn't hear much so wasn't sure I needed a two or a ten -- why not go big. Knowing I can get an 8 on a smaller wave like that is great. I just graduated so I haven't focused on events and to come here with my brother for the first event out of the US is pretty awesome."
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. MST for an 8:00 a.m. MST start to Round 4.