It's an exciting time for Women's Qualifying Series (QS) surfing in North America with the return of the Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro 2018 QS 1,500 October 4- 7 before closing their season out with a newly added Pismo Beach Open to follow. The women last contested on Costa Rica sands in 2016 when Championship Tour (CT) veteran Silvana Lima earned her first majory victory in two years.
Now, the women are back with a few of North America's top competitors in attendance alongside QS veterans and Costa Rican threats awaiting their shot at performing in a jersey on home soil. Here's a few women to keep an eye on throughout this week's competition as the entire field, save for Bailey Nagy, on hand looks for their maiden QS victory.
Back to Costa: Meah Collins Returns Where She Claimed Her Regional QS Title
The 2016 North America QS Regional Champ is back in Costa Rica and looking for much more this time around after an equal 17th, but has a different approach to this season after a few results not going her way. Collins is still learning the ways of the QS with this being her first full go at the Top 6 and has shown she possesses the explosiveness to turn a few heads.
The 19-year-old Californian has shown those moments of explosion en route to her equal ninth-place finish at the Supergirl Pro in 2016, and 2017, along with a similar result just down the coast from Costa Rica in El Salvador. Though the odds are against her, she remains one of the few competitors able to steal the No. 1 spot once more -- this time from Caroline Marks' dominant reign.
QS Veterans In Search of Glory
Nagy comes in ranked highest among her fellow contingent at No. 40 on the QS rankings and the Hawaii competitor's capability on Central America's coastline is hard to match. The 22-year-old spends almost as much time on her home island of Oahu as she does in Central America, or elsewhere around the world. But, with the likes of Blanco's powerful approach to hefty beachbreaks like her home coast of California will be a formidable opponent.
Gilchrist forewent a QS career in search of a Gold Medal, something she accomplished as a Team USA Water Polo team member, and is back to fulfill her goal of winning a QS event. Though it's been hit or miss for the Newport Beach, California, surfer, her Final appearance at the 2017 Shoe City Pro showed she still has enough in the tank to go for a big win.
Costa Rica's Next Generation Ready for Competition
While the field includes a noteworthy list of competitors that are also still a part of the North America Pro Junior Tour, this week will introduce a lot of Costa Rica's up-and-coming competitors. There is enough passion on the Costa Rican coastline for surfing that it trickles down to the youth with ease and, with the encouragement of competitors such as Carlos Munoz, they are well on their way toward a career in professional surfing.
Coral Wiggins has contested among the Pro Junior, as well as QS elite at the QS 6,000 level, alongside Florida's Eva Woodland who represents for her heritage of Costa Rica. But, 25-year-old Nataly Bernold Gutierrez is considered on of the country's top competitors after claiming both a National and Central America Title.
Tune in LIVE October 4 - 7 for the Men and Women's Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro QS 1,500 at Playa Jaco.