The Essential Costa Rica Surf Pro Men and Women's QS 1,500 powered through every type of condition Playa Jaco sent their way and laid down brilliant performances along the way. Early morning rain showers continued, though kept the four-to-five foot swell clean for most of the day until finally giving way to afternoon onshore winds.
But, the damage was done before calling proceedings off for the day just shy of completing women's Round 2 and the showcase of talent was nothing short of spectacular.
Leon Glatzer's Jaw-Dropping Perfection
The event's most amazing performance so far belongs to Pavones, Costa Rica, native Leon Glatzer after finding a Perfect 10 with his sky-high, aerial antics. Glatzer blasted a massive, backside full rotation that he landed in the flats and rode out of to garner the event's highest heat total of 17.00 (out of a possible 20). The 21-year-old was sitting in third-place behind Jonathan Zambrano Chila before launching a critical forehand air-reverse to earn a 7.00 and then let it all loose to overtake the lead from Tyler Gunter.
"That was a pretty good first heat and the waves are just amazing right now with the rain keeping the wind away," Glatzer said. "I had second priority and I saw down the line it looked like a closeout, but I saw this perfect lip and just went for it. It was amazing to hear the crowd screaming and that was the game plan was to find those good air sections. Costa Rica's my home, even though my parents are from Germany, I live in Pavones and I've come to Jaco since I was young competing at Nationals so this is where it all started."
Ticos Strongly Represented Into Weekend Action
Carlos Munoz lead the way among his fellow Costa Rican competitors with an impeccable 15.43 heat total, dropping an excellent 8.00, and moves into Round 3 with a lot of weight off his shoulders. The QS veteran, at just 25-years-old, has been a role model for those coming up the ranks and continued that on his home soil today.
It was also another great day for Tico competitors as Noe Mar McGonagle, Tomas King, Andreas Mora, Oscar Urbina, Jairo Perez, Anthony Fillingim, and a surprise performance from 15-year-old Sam Reidy, all found their way to a Round 3 appearance with plenty of support all around them.
"I'm very happy and now there's a lot of pressure off just getting through that first heat," Munoz said. "It's nice to make that first wave count after I've been surfing here all week so I know how it breaks which is important. I saw that air from Leon (Glatzer) and I was psyching to get out there (laughs). But, I have my family here, my friends, and a lot of people supporting me and the guys so it's amazing. I always talk about how the level is here in Costa Rica with everyone pushing each other. They make Nationals and beat me a lot so I'm stoked they have the opportunity to compete at the professional level against this level of talent."
Brasilians Make Their Presence Known
Brasilian talent Wesley Leite makes his second appearance in Costa Rica after the 2016 Essential Costa Rica Surf Open, but is hoping to better his equal 33rd this time around. Leite put together a complete heat, earning an 8.33 and 7.60, en route to his heat win and joins fellow Brasilians Luel Felipe, Alan Donato, Pedro Neves, Pedro Nogueira, and Herbert Moreno -- who posted an 8.50 of his own.
"I trained so hard in Brazil for this competition and I need points, but I'm feeling good after that first heat so hopefully I can keep making more," Leite said. "It's so cool to have this event back, especially at this place where there's rights and lefts, and I'm just trying to enjoy it all with good vibes all around. My best result was in Israel where I made Round 6 and I'm still learning how to surf in heats because it's so difficult as opposed to freesurfing where I know I can do well. This is an important one, but I'll take it step by step and see how good I can do."
North America Top 3 Smash Through Round 2 Wins
Women Deliver Impressive Performances in Tough, Afternoon Conditions
Immediately following men's Round 2, the women got their Round 2 bouts underway as the lower tide began to slowly effect conditions. But, the opening heats provided a showcase of talent and, with only two heats remaining to contest, Round 3 is shaping up to be a decisive draw.
Resano Sisters Rip Into Round 3
Valentina Resano started things off in great fashion with a 13.00 heat total to begin Round 2 and eliminated one of yesterday's standouts Valeria Ojeda. The 14-year-old Nicaraguan watched her younger sister, Candelaria Resano, excel yesterday and now both Resano sisters are into Round 3 after Candelaria's elimination of a top QS threat Bailey Nagy. Valentina is feeling at home despite Playa Jaco's tricky lineup and looks for a dream scenario alongside her 12-year-old sister.
"Sometimes it's good to start in the first heats and build momentum, but I was stoked to start in Round 2," Resano said. "I'm excited to have this event here since I do the Costa Rica National Circuit and we compete on this beach a lot. It's really close and I'm familiar with the wave even though it's always changing since it's a beachbreak. My sister doesn't really do WSL events much, but I got her to come to this one so it's really fun and we're on opposite sides of the draw so maybe a chance of a Final would be amazing."
But, it remains all fun for the younger Resano as she looks to make her way into the competitve scene after dropping a 6.17 in the dying minutes to go from third-to-first and claim a surprise win over Kaleigh Gilchrist, who also advanced, and one of the event favorites, Nagy.
"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," Resano said. And she certainly is.
Meah Collins Right at Home in Costa Rica
2016 North America QS Champ Meah Collins showed why she has that esteemed title to her name with an explosive, debut performance. Collins earned the women's highest single-wave score, an excellent 8.67, and heat total of 13.50. But, the 19-year-old has a new approach after a difficult year in her first full-time QS season and it showed brilliantly as she was joined by Costa Rica representative Eva Woodland into Round 3.
"I was really fortunate to find that right after thinking if I can find one of those a-frame peaks then I could get through this heat," Collins said. "There was a lot of opportunity, but those ones that were really special were the ones I was keeping my eye out for. Obviously there's always pressure for me when I go out and compete, but I'm not here to prove something to myself or anyone. I just want surf, have fun, and enjoy Costa Rica -- and if I can get fun waves like that in my heat it just makes it that much better."
Tomorrow's 7:30am MDT call will determine an 8:00am MDT start for either men's Round 3 or the remaining heats of women's Round 2.