The awaited swell made its arrival at Playa Revolcadero and in full force that challenged competitors' arsenal heading into Round 4 and Quarterfinals for the Vans Surf Open Acapulco QS 1,000 presented by Corona. Four-to-six foot, clean conditions provided a spectacle of competition that narrowed the field down to its remaining four competitors and all but one seek their maiden QS victory.
Implications await each of the Semifinalists, as well as more swell that's predicted to fill in until the next heat begins.
Alan Cleland Finds the Vision, Remains Lone Mexican Competitor
Mexico's last hope Cleland delivered an incredible, clutch day of surfing that nudged him into his first-ever QS finals day. The Pascuales, Mexico, native spends plenty of time navigating barrels at home and used that knowledge today for an excellent 8.83 (out of a possible 10) barrel ride in his Quarterfinal heat against Sam Coffey to solidify a Semifinal appearance. Cleland, 17, has the opportunity to claim the first Surf Open Acapulco win for Mexico since the event's inception in 2012 and has his focus locked on doing just that.
"I was sitting there and knew I needed a back up, and out of no where this set came so I knew I had to go," Cleland said. "Luckily it had a corner to it and it worked out. I wasn't expecting anything so thank you Mother Nature for that one. It's great to mix it up a little bit between getting barreled which I get almost every day at home and I love getting to do good turns, especially when both happen in competitions (laughs). It would mean everything to make a Final here knowing it means a lot for the Mexicans and myself."
North America No. 1 Still Up For Grabs
Mel came into this event as a longshot to overtake Noah Schweizer (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) for the No. 1 spot on the North America rankings for a chance to enter the Vans US Open trials and he's kept that ambition alive after defeating good friend and reigning North America Regional Pro Junior winner Tyler Gunter. The Santa Cruz, California, native looks for his first WSL win since the RVCA Pro Junior in 2017 and his first-ever QS victory to add some lush points toward his current No. 106 international ranking.
"It's really fun to surf a heat with Tyler, we've only had two heats together in Barbados where he beat me and Newport where I got him back so now I've got one up (laughs)," Mel said. "It's pretty funny to surf against him again and this time in the real deal. I was just looking for two waves that would give you two turns but now it's time to go a little bigger in the Semis. One of my goals coming here was to do well enough to get into the US Open trials and to make into the Semifinals helps my international rankings so now it's time to try and make it one more for even more points."
Matheus Navarro Makes It Three Finals Day Appearances in 2019
Brasil's Navarro is currently having a year any QS competitor would relish in. The 26-year-old enters his fourth finals day of 2019 in search of a third win to his name which would help secure a place in the QS 10,000s heading into the back-half of the season. The Brasilian adjusted his game plan to near-perfection from yesterday's airshow to today's barrel and turn-heavy performances in his win over Shaun Burns during a hard-fought Quarterfinal.
"My last time in Acapulco I finished in the Quarterfinals and I'm so happy to pass that today," Navarro said. "Now it's time to focus on the next heat because I want to make the Final really bad for the points since I'm dropping a low result. The waves were so good today and you had to go to more turns and look for barrels instead of yesterday when everyone was throwing big airs. I'm really excited for tomorrow and putting on a good show in the Semifinals."
Luke Gordon Fights For QS 10,000 Seeding
Another competitor on the cusp of making it into the QS 10,000s after the cut-off is Gordon, currently No. 114 on the QS rankings. This marks the South Carolinian's second year on the QS full-time and he's already finding his comfort zone among the elite. Appearances in Europe, Australia, and Japan, to name a few, continue to give him the confidence in a jersey and the 19-year-old is beginning to show his potential as a threat to the experienced QS contingent such as Jeremy Carter who he took down in the Quarterfinals.
"I'm right at the cut line so I needed that one and need to finish strong now," Gordon said. "I was just trying to find anything I could go on out there and I'm just winging it really (laughs). But, I'm having fun which is what it's all aboutIt's crazy how different it is being my second year here and how much more relaxed I am at these events. After spending the first half of the year around the world for the QS I've noticed the little things that I'm more comfortable with and also the experience it's giving me, I can feel it."
Event organizers will reconvene at 9:00am CDT for a 9:30am CDT start to Semifinal action.
The Vans Surf Open Acapulco pres. by Corona will run July 12 -14 at Playa Revolcadero, Acapulco, Mexico, in front of the Princess Imperial Hotel.