Sunshine, paradise, and a world-class wave? What more could you want?
That seemed to be the theme on opening day of the Thomo QS 1,000 in Memory of Bill Thomson with Soup Bowl delivering pristine conditions throughout Round 1. Surfers met the conditions with power and finesse, showcasing what they can do on the world-class reefbreak.
Chauncey Robinson Picks Up Where He Left Off
East Coast native Gabriel Morvil started the day off with a win over one of Soup Bowl's elite surfers Josh Burke, but it was Chauncey Robinson who set the scale in Round 1. Last year's Thomo runner-up felt right at home as he belted numerous, critical sections to earn a near-perfect 9.17 (out of a possible 10) to back up an 8.00 -- accruing a 17.17 (out of a possible 20).
Robinson hopes to finish his year strong after a tough go in Maresias, Brazil, but he put on a dominant display for his Soup Bowl debut.
"This is the best place in the world and my favorite competition of the year by a mile," Robinson said. "It may not be quite all-time for what Soup Bowl can do, but it's so fun out there and I'm so glad Zander (Venezia) sent us some waves. I was out of my comfort zone in Brazil which I like, but I just got dominated. I was a little sketched out just getting in so late and it normally takes a day to readjust, but I got a freesurf in to get back in rhythm."
Kevin Schulz: One Heat Down
Kevin Schulz has a tall order if he's to take the North America QS Title at this event, needing a Finals appearance. The San Clemente, California, native continues to put nerves aside and deliver when needed. He put his powerful backhand on display today along with an explosive forehand air-reverse to garner a 14.03 heat total.
"It's the best ever when you come here and there's pumping waves, you couldn't really ask for a lot more," Schulz said. "This is about as good as it gets and I feel like I never really get to open up on my backhand. I surf Lowers a lot but it's always so crowded. To come here and be able to let loose is great. I have a big job to do here and I actually don't get too nervous before heats now after doing so many so I've learned to go out there, freesurf and hope it gets the job done."
Caribbean Surfers Find Their Way
A battle ensued in Round 1 Heat 12 as Elishama Beckford went back-and-forth with one of North America's top threats Cole Houshmand. Beckford held the lead over Houshmand heading into the final seconds before the Californian found one last opportunity to capitalize on. But, the Jamaican did his share of head turning and made his first-ever QS heat count.
"The conditions cleaned up so nicely and even though it was a slow start, the waves definitely picked up in the end," Beckford said. "Cole (Houshmand) is my teammate, we both ride for Hayden Shapes, so it's super cool to be here next door in Barbados and compete against him and some great people in this contest. This is only my second time here, but I'm just excited to have three other guys out at a wave like this with good weather and good people."
Houshmand is joined by fellow men's 2018 ISA World Junior teammates Jett Schilling, also advancing into Round 2, and the day's final heat winner Kade Matson. Matson took on a hefty Caribbean affair including Barbados' Dane Mackie and Bruce Mackie, alongside Jamaica's Icah Wilmont, but managed to rally in the final minutes for a big heat win.
For Mackie, it's been a year of growth away from the jersey, but he revels in the task at hand of keeping the Thomo title on home soil.
"I love surfing the QS events at home and having all of them in one weekend like this is amazing," Mackie said. "It's almost like a bonus chance for someone who didn't do well in the WSL event to get some more waves. That heat with my brother (Bruce) was really close and everyone was ripping so I'm bummed for him not to make it through. I've been trying to balance work and surfing to prepare for our events in the spring and that will help decide what I do next year. But, I've been spending the last week here to prepare for this event."
A 7:30 a.m. call will determine an 8:00 a.m. start for either Round 2 of the Thomo QS 1,000 or opening day of the Live Like Zander Junior Pro.
The Thomo QS 1,000 In Memory of Bill Thomson runs November 6 - 10 alongside the Live Like Zander Junior Pro November 6-11 at Soup Bowl, Bathsheba, Barbados.