Not even the torrential downpour could damper the spirits of opening day at the Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro Men's and Women's event at Playa Jaco. The early goings featured a plethora of up-and-coming talents from around Costa Rica, and abroad, spotlighting competitors who could be a threat to top-seeded Round 2 surfers.
The women got the event underway with a few standout performances in Round 1 from some unlikely talents looking to make a big run toward 1,500 points.
Next Generation Stamps Authority on Opening Day
Fort Lauderdale, Florida's, Valeria Ojeda showcased size isn't everything in surfing as the 13-year-old, goofyfooter laid down her forehand skill to earn an 11.83 (out of a possible 20) heat total in her QS debut victory.
But, it was Nicaraguan heavy-wave charger Candelaria Resano that bettered Vidueira's performance with a 13.16 heat total. The 12-year-old comes in as the youngest women competitor and already has her ambitions set high for a career in professional surfing. Resano had her strategy in place and left nothing in the water as she debuted brilliantly en route to a Round 2 appearance.
"This is one of the first QS events that I've done that I'm taking a little more serious and it would mean a lot to get even further," Resano said. "That was pretty fun even though it was a little tricky to see where it would break because it changed every set. I just wanted to get the first wave of the heat and get the job done. I'm so glad I could start doing these events at a young age and get that much more experience, and if I lose it's not a big deal but I want to put up a fight."
QS Veterans Resurface in Costa Rica
Not to be outdone by Resano, Rosanny Alvarez dropped the day's highest heat total of 14.00 with her insatiable backhand attack. The Venezuelan has competed sporadically on the QS since 2012, but hadn't contested from 2013 until last year and is back once more near her home country. Alvarez has put the time in at Playa Jaco leading up to the event and her knowledge paid off and was joined by Costa Rican Paulina Summers into Round 2.
"I'm feeling good and really happy to get those scores to start off the competition like that," Alvarez said. "There's some good waves out there and I've been training out here a lot to feel the flow of this wave. I'm happy to have made that first heat and get the nerves out. I'll do my best to keep making heats and surf the best I can."
Though, Chile's Josefina Vidueira posted the day's only excellent score of an 8.00 (out of a possible 10) with her critical surfing. Vidueira has been contesting in the QS since 2014, predominantly at the Maui and Sons Pichilemu event, and showed that experience today.
"One of my dreams was to come to Costa Rica and I can't believe I'm here," Vidueira said. "I got here late last night so this was one of my first surfs on the wave, so I just tried to find the good ones out there. I'm from Pichilemu which is an incredible left so I was looking for the lefts mostly, but I'm so happy to win that first heat."
Tico's Takeover Jaco Lineup in Men's Round 1
Action then shifted to the preliminary Round 1 heats of the men's match ups and a dominant display from Jaco's own Darshan Antequera set the standard. The 15-year-old relished in the opportunity to compete at his home break and made it count with a solid 13.77 heat total, the men's best, to claim an early heat win. Antequera's forehand looked to be his strong suit and could pose a threat to top-seeded competitors in Round 2.
"I'm super happy to make that first heat in a QS here in my hometown," Antequera said. "I've really been looking forward to this event since the announcement came out a couple months ago so it's great to continue on, especially with another Tico. It's amazing to have this event here because a lot people go to their first QS and don't do very well, but it's expensive to have to pay flights and hotels so I'm happy to have one here. Surfing with some of the best around the world who came here is hard to describe and I'm looking forward to competing against them on some fun waves."
Hailing from the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, Steven Arauz put together a good performance to back up his fellow Tico's display. Arauz was able to showcase his strong forehand as well on the critical sections of Playa Jaco's righthanders streaming through the lineup and turned an 11.93 heat total in his WSL debut.
"I've never competed in a QS before so to be here and earn a heat win is something amazing to me," Arauza said. "This is a dream for me and a lot of the surfers here to have this opportunity and I'm really appreciative for it. I'm going to try and get the best scores on my first waves then be really selective moving forward."
Tomorrow's 7:00 a.m. MDT call will determine a possible 7:30 a.m. MDT start for either men or women's Round 2 action.
The Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro QS 1,500 will run October 4 - 7 at Playa Jaco, Costa Rica.