- WSL / Wolf Photographe

The World Surf League (WSL) North America Qualifying Series (QS) returns to action with the historic, first-ever Cabarete Pro powered by Carambola Surf House, a QS 1,000-level event, beginning March 3 - 6 at the beautiful, lefthand reefbreak of Encuentro Beach. "The Left" will play host to some of the region's top contenders alongside a number of Dominican Republic's own in their country's WSL debut looking to garner valuable contest experience and disrupt competitors in need of points toward Challenger Series rankings. 

Dominican Staff The Cabarete Pro staff along with event wildcard Manuel Selman at the pre-event press conference to announce the first-ever WSL event coming to the country of Dominican Republic. - WSL / Brian Mejia

Current North America No. 1 Kei Kobayashi comes into the Dominican Republic fresh off a second-career win and now looks to secure his place atop the rankings with just three events remaining. The San Clemente, California competitor already found his footing in a new event venue for this groundbreaking event.

"It means everything to find myself atop of the leaderboard for North America going into the last few events," said Kobayashi. "I've told myself I can do it since I was a little kid and I want to make everybody from San Clemente and Japan happy. My goal is to win the North America title and make the challenger series."

Kei Kobayashi (USA) during Round 2 of EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira 2018 A determined Kobayashi still has work to do after his big win just days ago. - WSL / Damien Poullenot

"My first impressions of DR were mindblowing. Everybody here is so welcoming and nice. I'm super thankful to be able to do what I do. Thank you to everyone who supports me. I'm very excited to be here and it's my first time and I'm traveling with my one of my best friends Bash Mendes and I'm excited for us to compete together and get this comp underway."

Lethal Locals Ready to Shine at Home in Dominican Republic
A plethora of standout Dominicans are ready to battle with North America's best at the Cabarete Pro powered by Carambola Surf House.

But, Kobayashi will have to deal with a stacked field of the region's and local talent, including Manuel Selman. Selman learned how to surf at this very wave since the age of eight and, though he now represents Chile and competed in the Olympics under their flag, holds this place very close to heart. (Interview in video above)

"It's been a dream of mine for like 15 years that I've been doing the QS to have a contest here at my home spot," said Selman. "It's critical times and everyone is trying to qualify from the North America region for the Challenger Series. We have the top guys here surfing with a bunch of local Dominicans that are rippers, that know this wave better than anybody. We're going to see a lot of good surfing."

Gianmarco Oliva (DOM) Gianmarco Oliva is ready and waiting for his chance at a WSL debut and has been a standout during the pre-event sessions. - WSL / Wolf Photographe

Born-and-raised Dominican talents such as Gianmarco Oliva, a wildcard into the Round of 64, and Zion Balbuenaare ready to represent their country and themselves proudly. Balbuena made his WSL debut at the 2015 Pacifico Belmar Pro, but hasn't put on a professional jersey since and is now on home soil ready for the next challenge.

"It's a great opportunity to show who we are to all the people," said Oliva. "And also show them the waves here in the DR and it's really amazing that the WSL made a stop at our home break."

"This is one of the first contests I've actually ever competed (in)," said Balbuena. "It's awesome to have it in the Dominican Republic, especially in the north coast. Encuentro is a local wave here, this is my backyard, I grew up here. Being in the water with these guys makes me want to push a little harder and hopefully we can have more events here."

A 7:30 a.m. call AST will determine a likely 8:00 a.m. AST start.

For more information on the event, please visit www.WorldSurfLeague.com.

The Cabarete Pro powered by Carambola Surf House QS 1,000 will run at Encuentro Beach, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic beginning March 3 - 6.

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