Strong cross-onshore winds have made things tough for competitors on Day 3 of the 2019 So Sri Lanka Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 at Arugam Bay. The conditions didn't detract from the excitement as some of the world's best up and coming surfers did battle and the top seeds hit the water in the opening 12 heats of Round 3.
Qualifying Series stalwart Rafael Teixeira made his intentions to find a seed back into the QS10,000 events clear as he took a last-minute heat win in Heat 5 of Round 3. Teixeira battled through the windy bumpy conditions to post a modest two-wave combination of 12.74 (out of a possible 20) to make it through to Round 4 where he'll hope for some better conditions.
"That was super tough out there," Teixeira said. "There was so much chop coming up the face and you just never knew which wave would shape up enough for you to do turns on -- I'm happy to get through that one. I had a couple of bad year's and fell out of position on the QS10,000 events which was really tough to deal with. My family told me to never drop my head and kept me positive so I'm happy to be here and making my first heat."
Fresh off a win at the recent Nias Pro QS3,000 in Indonesia, Jordy Maree is arguably the form surfer of this event. The electric young goofy-footer started with a bang then took a while to find a back-up score in the tough conditions. Eventually, Maree took the lead in the last few minutes to overcome his opponents including Sri Lankan wildcard Lakshitha Madushan (LKA) who surfed well but fell short of progressing in third position.
"I haven't surfed for the last two days because I got an urchin in my foot, so it felt amazing to go out and win my first heat," Maree said. "I've seen some guys win events and go out the first round of the next one so I was working hard to stay relaxed and not put too much pressure on myself because I didn't want that to happen. I came here straight after Nias, this place is incredible, and I've scored great waves and had a lot of good times."
Although Lakshitha Madushan wasn't able to progress through his opening heat, the 20-year-old Welligama local was stoked to have his first heat in a WSL event. Madushan and his fellow Sri Lankan surfer's have learned a lot from the experience of surfing with professional QS surfers.
"That was such an amazing experience for me," Madushan said. "To get scores from professional judges has given me a base and now I can work to build on it. All of my friends and I have just been watching the heats and even the free-surfing and learning so much from the international surfers, from technique to tactics. We really hope this event keeps coming back and we can see how we progress each year."
Gold Coast upstart Kai Tandler continued his dominating form at Arugam Bay, posting the highest two-wave total of Round 3 so far. Tandler somehow found power and pinpoint precision in the bumpy sub-par conditions to post a 14.80 heat total. The Aussie teenager is stoked to make it through the tough conditions with a promising forecast for Finals weekend.
"It was so hard to pick which waves to go out there so you sort of just had to go for it and hope for the best," Tandler said. "There was definitely still the odd one out there and I luckily go a few of them. It sounds like the next couple of days should be great so I'm pretty excited to get some good waves in Round 4."
A special mention must also go to Indonesian surfer Oney Anwar who with a badly cut foot had a seriously slow heat but managed to bring it back by posting an excellent 8.10 (out of a possible 10) to move into second and progress through his Round 3 heat. Anwar's score was the highest single wave of the day and was impressive in the tough conditions on hand at A-Bay.
Tune in tomorrow as more of the event top seeds along with 1999 World Champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS) look to hit the water for the remaining heats of Round 3 and round 4 at Arugam Bay.