The 2021 Layback Pro presented by Billabong began on Wednesday with the first two Rounds of the Men's QS3000 being carried out at Praia Mole, in Florianópolis, Brazil. A total of 80 surfers hit the water on the first day of competition with only 32 advancing into the Round of 96. The day's highest single-wave score was an 8.00 given to Miguel Tudela (PER), while the young up-and-comer Edson de Prá (BRA) earned the day's highest heat total of a 14.57 on his two best rides. The Women's QS1000 is scheduled to begin on Thursday at 8:00 am (local time) and will be followed by Men's Round of 96 at Praia Mole. Watch all the action LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.com.
"It's great to be here competing at a QS event for the first time," said Edson de Prá. "In the first round, I managed to find a few good waves to earn a solid heat total and, in the second round, I was able to land that air that saved me at the end. It's been a great experience for me and I'm feeling pretty confident. Now I'm psyched for the next round," completed the young Brazilian who is competing in the first WSL Qualifying Series in Brazil since the postponement of competitive surfing in the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Edson de Prá is now scheduled to compete in Heat 6 of the Round of 96 and will be matched up against Yage Araujo (BRA), Kim Matheus (BRA) and Ryan Kainalo (BRA), who is coming straight off an excellent 3rd place result at the QS5000 in the Azores, which ended on Sunday in Portugal.
So far, the other standout surfer of the event has been the Peruvian Miguel Tudela, who scored an excellent 8-point ride in the Round of 128. Tudela, who is sponsored by Billabong, advanced alongside Heitor Mueller (BRA), while eliminating Daniel Templar (BRA) and Odacir Nonato (BRA) from the competition.
"It was a really good heat. I was able to distance myself from the other competitors and was able to surf practically by myself. I got some good lefts and just let my surfing do the talking. It turned out to be a good strategy and I'm happy it worked out," said Miguel Tudela. "I'm a little tired because I only arrived at 1:00 am, but I'm also happy that I won my first heat. I've never competed here at Praia Mole, only at Joaquina (the next beach south in Florianópolis), but you could tell that the bank looks good and it will be fun for the next few days," completed Tudela.
Miguel Tudela is one of the many Olympic athletes that will be competing at the LayBack Pro presented by Billabong and also spoke about the two consecutive events that will be held in Brazil.
"I changed my regional membership this year and these two events here in Brazil are super important. I'm happy to return to my country, Peru, and also stoked to have started well in the event by winning my first heat. Now it's time to rest, so that I can be prepared for tomorrow," concluded Tudela.
Several veteran, former Championship Tour athletes were able to gain an upper edge over their younger opponents and saw the likes of Raoni Monteiro (BRA), Messias Felix (BRA), Marcio Farney (BRA) and local surfer Marco Polo (BRA) all advance in the competition.
"It's good to be back doing what I've always loved doing," said an ecstatic Polo. "I've been competing for over twenty years, since I was a kid, then moved up to the QS and CT. I took some time off from competition to raise my kids and pursue other projects, but to be here at the QS in my hometown has really hit hard emotionally. A bunch of people kept asking me what time my heat was so they could watch. I've had so much support and to actually win the heat feels better than winning the contest," said Polo, who is one of 27 athletes at the LayBack Pro presented by Billabong that competed at the last event held at Praia Mole eleven years ago.
Several current Championship Tour athletes are in Florianópolis and will see action on Friday in the Round of 64. These higher seeded surfers include the 2015 WSL World Champion Adriano de Souza (BRA), the number one seeded athlete Yago Dora (BRA), Jadson André (BRA), Miguel Pupo (BRA) and Alex Ribeiro (BRA). The Brazilian leg of events will commence the race for the WSL LATAM regional rankings lead, which will qualify the Top-10 Men and the Top-5 Women onto the WSL Challenger Series, the battleground for a spot on the Championship Tour.
After a full day of Men's competition, Thursday will kick start the Women's QS1000. The 32 participants of the LayBack Pro presented by Billabong were divided into eight heats in the Round of 32. The two best surfers in each heat advance to the next round. The major headliners are the Olympic athletes Silvana Lima (BRA), Daniella Rosas (PER) and Dominic Barona (ECU), who all have WSL South America Championship Titles under their belts.