An all-important moving day unfolded at the men's and women's Jack's Surfboards Pro QS 1,000 with finals day set for Sunday, August 8. Women made their anticipated debut and didn't disappoint with moments of brilliance from top seeds - as well as a few breakthrough performers. The men continued to impress with more superheats and showdowns throughout their Round 4 and 5 affairs. Respective Quarterfinalists are now set for Sunday's finale to crown event victors and solidify Challenger Series (CS) qualifiers.
Sawyer Lindblad Posts Near-Perfection in Round 2 Debut
The San Clemente, California, surfer left 2020 atop the North America rankings before the reshuffling of points pushed her to No. 10 on the rankings. But, with her incredible performance today, Lindblad moves to No. 8 and is officially qualified into the Challenger Series as she blasted the day's best performance of a 9.00 (out of a possible 10) and 15.40 (out of a possible 20) heat total in her Round 2 debut before another powerful display in Round 3. (Quotes in video)
QS First-Timer Bella Kenworthy Surges into Quarterfinals
The 14-year-old made her QS debut in phenomenal fashion with two critical heat wins to earn her spot into the two-woman Quarterfinal matchups. Kenworthy's 7.50 and 13.75 heat total, alongside heat runner-up Makena Burke, eliminated No. 1 seeded Kirra Pinkerton after her strong start wavered in Round 3. Now, the San Clemente competitor is set for her first-ever QS finals day in dynamic form. (Quotes in video)
From Olympic History to QS Brilliance: Leilani McGonagle
The Costa Rican stamped her QS return with authority after a dream appearance in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and didn't waste a single opportunity. McGonagle, 21, blasted through her Round 2 and 3 heats with victories to lay a solid foundation heading into finals day - laying down a 13.35 heat total in her Round 3 success over an in-form Caitlin Simmers, also advancing.
"Definitely different vibes from [the Olympics] being with the whole team and it was a great experience," said McGonagle. "We were staying at the village and just constantly surrounded by the best athletes from around the world. This is more of the normal home vibey, beach contest day and it's great to be back in this element competing."
These standout performers are joined in the Quarterfinals by Championship Tour (CT) qualification threat Alyssa Spencer, 2019 WRV Outer Banks Pro victor Makena Burke, 2018 Heroes de Mayo Iquique Pro victor Autumn Hays, and event threat Sara Freyre.
Evan Geiselman Pushes the Pace into Finals Day
The Floridian powerhouse went to work in the first heat of men's Round 4 and left nothing to chance after his nail-biter in Friday's action. Geiselman, 27, is no stranger to the Huntington Beach Pier arena and thrived with a brilliant 14.25 using a dominant backhand attack. The New Smyrna Beach, Florida, competitor didn't let off the gas heading into Round 5 in a stacked heat featuring former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Nat Young, also advancing, 2019 event winner Crosby Colapinto, and wildcard threat Jojo Whelan. (Quotes in video)
Cole Houshmand Lays Waste to the Lineup
Arguably the most anticipated heat of Round 4 unfolded with the San Clemente, California, Challenger Series threat Houshmand rising to the occasion and delivering a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10) and 14.25 (out of a possible 20) heat total. Houshmand overpowered Young, also advancing, fellow San Clemente surfer Kade Matson, and Nolan Rapoza before moving into Round 3 where he earned runner-up behind Melbourne Beach, Florida's, Chauncey Robinson. (Quotes in video)
Robinson isn't a stranger to finals days with multiple finals appearances and a Thomo QS 1,000 in Memory of Bill Thomson victory to his name and looks for another big result moving into Sunday.
"Stoked to make it back-to-back East Coast wins with Evan (Geiselman)," said Robinson. "As you roll through the heats I think you get more comfortable out there. On that first exchange I actually asked Cole (Houshmand) if he wanted to split it and he didn't say anything so I just put my head down and took the right off of him. That's what set the roll for the rest of the heat."
These Quarterfinalists will have to deal with the likes of an in-form Kei Kobayashi who maintains the title of the last North America QS victory in 2020 along with Costa Rican talent Carlos Munoz, East Coast threat Cam Richards, and Barbados' powerhouse Josh Burke.
The next call will be for women's Quarterfinals at 7:30am PT to determine an 8:00am PT start followed by men's Quarterfinals.
The Jack's Surfboards Pro QS 1,000 will be broadcast live beginning August 5 - 8 at the Huntington Beach Pier, Huntington Beach, California.
Women's Jack's Surfboards Pro Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Bella Kenworthy (USA) vs. Caitlin Simmers (USA)
QF 2: Makena Burke (USA) vs. Leilani McGonagle (CRI)
QF 3: Alyssa Spencer (USA) vs. Autumn Hays (USA)
QF 4: Sara Freyre (USA) vs. Sawyer Lindblad (USA)
Men's Jack's Surfboards Pro Quarterfinal Matchups:
QF 1: Evan Geiselman (USA) vs. Cole Houshmand (USA)
QF 2: Nat Young (USA) vs. Chauncey Robinson (USA)
QF 3: Kei Kobayashi (USA) vs. Josh Burke (BRB)
QF 4: Carlos Munoz (CRI) vs. Cam Richards (USA)