Heavy implications unfolded into heartbreak and elation at the World Surf League (WSL) North America Qualifying Series (QS) Barbados Surf Pro QS 3,000 presented by Diamonds International. Both the men and women came into today's action with everything on the line in pulsing, four-to-six foot Soup Bowl conditions. A spot into finals day and, even more importantly, Challenger Series positions were up for grabs.
A highly-anticipated Quarterfinal between two of North America's top-tier competitors Sawyer Lindblad and Caitlin Simmers gave way to an amazing performance from Lindblad. The San Clemente, California competitor knew she had to leave everything in the water with Simmers' ability to overcome the toughest of scenarios and Linblad did just that. The 16-year-old garnered an excellent 8.13 (out of a possible 20) and will now looks to vie for a first major QS title. (Full interview in video)
"Caity (Simmers) and I have been surfing against each other since we were eight so it's always fun to surf against your friend," said Lindblad. "Dropping big scores always gives me confidence and I'm really excited for tomorrow."
A see-saw battle between two former Soup Bowl victors Chelsea Tuach, three-time Soup Bowl Junior Pro winner, and Kirra Pinkerton, who earned her maiden WSL victory here, unraveled with Tuach taking a big win. A 6.40 from Pinkerton at the seven-minute mark earned her the lead after Barbados' own Tuach held the top spot from their first wave-for-wave exchange. But, with just one-minute remaining Tuach found a gem and utilized her forehand attack to earn a 6.10 to turn the heat and make it to the Semifinals. (Full interview in video)
"I thought I had a plan coming into it, but Soup Bowl keeps changing every heat," said Tuach. "You just have to be ready to adapt out there. I let Kirra (Pinkerton) go on that one and I thought it was a closeout but she made it a six because she's that good so I was really glad I got one more chance to win that heat."
Puerto Rico's Havanna Cabrero secured her title as an event threat after overtaking an advancing spot from Samantha Sibley in the Round of 16 before eliminating event standout Zoe Benedetto and putting her name in the mix for this year's Challengers Series. (Full interview in video)
A big showing from Leilani McGonagle (CRI) put her into the Semifinals as she looks to close the 2021/22' season with one last massive result and defend her event title.
Alan Cleland turned in the performance of his young career with a dominant forehand display against current North America No. 2 Evan Geiselman in their Quarterfinal bout. The 19-year-old Mexican competitor delivered an outstanding 16.40 (out of a possible 20) heat total, trading wave-for-wave with Geiselman, who won his Round of 16 affair to start the day, and overpowered Soup Bowl's beautiful conditions to find himself among the Top 9 Challenger Series qualifiers. (Full interview in video)
"I'm just so humbled to get this opportunity to surf Soup Bowl with only one guy out," said Cleland. "I've had a rough year and haven't had good results. I focus myself on the bigger waves and coming into this event I just told myself to enjoy the moment."
An all-important heat for former Soup Bowl victors Chauncey Robinson and Cole Houshmand unraveled in Quarterfinal Heat 3 with both looking for a big result to claim a Challenger Series spot. Robinson's knowledge of the wave earned him a 7.67 to take an early lead, but Houshmand rose to the occasion and delivered back-to-back excellent scores on his ferocious backhand to garner a 16.27 heat total. (Full interview in video)
"I wasn't counting a fifth result so I really needed this event," said Houshmand. "I knew I had to make Quarters at least and I'm stoked it played it out how it is now."
A 7:30 a.m. EDT call will determine a likely 8:00 a.m. EDT start for finals day competition.
The Barbados Surf Pro QS 3,000 and Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia presented by Diamonds International will run March 28 - April 3.