Fans stormed the beach of Oceanside in numbers with some of the world's best making their debut at the Nissan Super Girl Pro QS 6,000 and witnessed the shifting of ranks firsthand. There are still many chapters to be written in 2019 but as the back-half of the season approaches, five of the current QS Top 10 competitors are under 20 years of age and four are into finals day at this event.
Action is now down to two-woman heats until a victor is caped and fireworks await the opening horn.
Round 3 Heat 1 started with a big upset to former Super Girl Pro victor and current World No. 7 Malia Manuel as McGonagle and Zahli Kelly overpowered the veteran. The Costa Rican was in great form throughout the day and followed that win with another impressive victory that helped eliminate current QS No. 1 Isabella Nichols. Now, the 20-year-old must prepare for a massive finals day that will witness competitors surf five times if they're to win this event.
"It's been a really fun day even with the waves being a bit more complicated in the third round but they still had some quality and I just wanted to showcase the surfing I had," McGonagle said. "Before the competition started I saw my heat and Malia (Manuel), and she's one of my favorite surfers. She just has such grace and style, and so powerful so I try to mimic her a lot. It felt really cool to be in a heat with her and to beat her was the cherry on top."
A swarm of upsets followed in Round 3 as the competition lost top-seeded competitors Paige Hareb, Sage Erickson, Philippa Anderson, Silvana Lima, Brisa Hennessy, Alyssa Spencer, Alana Blanchard and wildcard Bethany Hamilton.
Making The Cut
Tatiana Weston-Webb, former Super Girl Pro victor, put an end to those upsets with a blistering performance to garner an excellent 8.33 (out of a possible 10) and 15.16 (out of a possible 20) heat total in her Round 3 debut. The current World No. 8 followed that win with more momentum despite feeling some exhaustion after her travels from Jeffrey's Bay. Now Weston-Webb looks to add another cape to her resume with finals day ready and waiting.
Fellow CT veteran Nikki Van Dijk got to work right away in Round 3 with the day's best heat total of a 15.17 using her powerful backhand. The Australian has yet to don a Super Girl cape in her eight attempts, though an impressive third-place finish, and took advantage of the conditions on offer at today's event.
"It's so nice to have really good waves here after I've been here a few times when it's really small which evens out the playing field whereas the bigger conditions allows us to really show our surfing," Van Dijk said. "I'm really worn out after that day so I'll get some good rest and prepare for the big day tomorrow which I'm super excited for. It would be amazing to win a cape and I'd really like to win this event to get some momentum."
First Back-to-Back Win at Super Girl Pro?
Defending event winner Carissa Moore looked to be in fine form of her title defense with two heat wins to start her 2019 run. The three-time WSL Champion and contested against Hamilton and the combination of star power brought thousands down to the shoreline for their heat. Moore recognizes the talent on hand and will face against a familiar face in Bronte Macaulay for Round 5.
"I love this event is all about women empowerment it's an all around, all women's event and the waves are fun so I'm stoked to be here," Moore said "I'm really excited to be a part of women's surfing at this time and the future is looking really bright here."
Joining Moore in Round 5 will be the likes of California's next generation Kirra Pinkerton, Samantha Sibley, alongside CT veteran Lakey Peterson. International standouts include current QS Top 10 Sara Wakita, Zahli Kelly and Vahine Fierro alongside contender Teresa Bonvalot.
Wakita knows what's required of her if she's to find herself near the podium and keep her No. 6 ranking.
"I'm just trying to surf my best since the best surfers in the world are here," the Japanese-born-Hawaii-raised competitor said. "Going up against them is pretty nerve-racking and a challenge but I just want to give it my all. It's my dream to qualify for the CT but I'm still working on getting the confidence to know I'm ready and hopefully I can find myself prepared as we get deeper into the season."
Finals day action will begin at 8am PDT beginning with Round 5 Heat 1.
Tune in live at www.WorldSurfLeague.com and for more information on the festival go to www.SupergirlPro.com. To connect via social media, follow @SupergirlPro on Instagram and Twitter, or visit Facebook.com/SupergirlPro. The event is televised on FOX Sports and live streamed via 15 partners.
The Nissan Super Girl Pro will run at Oceanside Pier beginning July 26 - 28.