A rising swell hit the Chilean coastline overnight, bringing solid 6-foot (2 meter) waves with the occasional 8-foot bomb out the back. Competition at the Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour ran through both Rounds 4 and 5, setting up for an epic Finals Day on Sunday for stop #29 of the Men's Qualifying Series (QS) calendar of events.
As the waves increased, so did the scoring potential with heavy-lipped barrels charging along the rocky reef at El Gringo. The day's top ride went to Skip McCollough (USA) who after a late drop, accelerated through a lengthy, Pipeline-esque barrel for a perfect 10-point ride.
Because of the peace of mind and connection to nature that surfers have in the water, it is not uncommon for people to have spiritual moments in the ocean. McCollough described his emotions after scoring the first 10-point ride of his life.
"That wave was hard to grasp. I think it was a miracle, you know?" declared McCollough. "I should have fallen on the drop, but I ended up in this beautiful, big multi-colored barrel and I came out and all I could think about was Jesus. Then I looked out to the top of the mountain and Jesus was just looking down on me. His arms were in the air, partying up there and I just felt so alive, it just couldn't have come at a better time," said McCollough in reference to the statue of Christ atop the Morro de Arica.
The American then stated his objectives now that he has reached the Quarterfinals.
"Next up is trying to get two good waves. I got one good one, but in my next heat I want to get two barrels, because one isn't going to cut it forever, but thankfully that one was a 10-point ride. That was my first 10 ever in a WSL event, so I couldn't have picked a better place to do it. Siempre Arica!" exclaimed McCollough.
McCollough will now face Alonso Correa (PER) in Heat 2 of the Quarterfinals. Heat 1 will see Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) face up against event standout Dean Bowen (AUS), who came in runner-up in Arica in 2018.
Dantas advanced alongside Correa earlier in Round 5, eliminating Max Kearney (AUS) and Wiggolly's younger brother, the powerful Weslley Dantas (BRA).
"It's always a privilege to surf El Gringo when it's pumping like this with only 3 other people in the line-up. Usually when it's like this, there are at least 20 to 30 people fighting for the best waves," said Wiggolly. "It's a shame that my brother couldn't advance too. I opted to stay a little closer inside and caught the steeper waves because I didn't come out of any barrels on the bigger sets. This is already my best result of the year, plus I love surfing here and that gives me some extra confidence going into tomorrow," concluded Dantas.
The last heat of the day saw Mihimana Braye (PYF) advance alongside Nolan Rapoza (USA) by a score of 14.77 to 11.04 respectively. Bowing out were two other event standouts, Kauli Vaast (FRA) and Carloz Muñoz (CRI).
Rapoza will face Vitor Mendes (BRA) in Heat 3, while Braye will match up against Joaquin Del Castillo (PER) in Heat 4 of the Quarterfinals.
A call is set for 7:00 am local time for the final day of competition at the 10th edition of the Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour QS 3000 in Chile.