- WSL / Mariano Antunez

On Thursday, the event's top seeds displayed their prowess in the 2-3 foot waves in Mar del Plata, Argentina for the World Surf League (WSL) Men's and Women's QS 1000 Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande. The Women's division initiated the day's competition with former event winner Dominic Barona (ECU) easily advancing in her first heat and looks to repeat her brilliant performances in 2017 and 2018 where she took home the 1st place trophies.

"It feels great to be back here and I always feel at home in Mar del Plata," Barona said. "It was really cold this morning, but the waves gave us a chance to do some good surfing and I'm stoked that I made it through. We have a bunch of events this year and right after this one I'm heading to Brazil, then to Galapagos in my country, followed by Chile. I'm very grateful for these opportunities, congratulations to the event organizers who always put on a great event and let's get ready for the next round."

Dominic Barona Two-time event winner Dominic Barona (ECU) looks to repeat her performance at the Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande. - WSL / Mariano Antunez

So far, Daniella Rosas (PER) has been the in-form surfer of the WSL South America 2022/23 season coming off a spectacular win at the QS 1000 held at Praia Mole, Brazil last week. Rosas also looks to repeat her event win in 2019 and was off to a great start, earning the day's highest heat total of a 14.00 in Heat 5 of the Round of 32.

"I've just flown in from Brazil, where I won the event last Sunday, so I feel super prepared to compete here," said Rosas. "I feel very confident, I'm glad to be here again and the waves are fun, so I hope they stay that way. I've only been here once before, but I won the event that year. It was very memorable because it was my first win on the Qualifying Series. I feel very comfortable here, everyone speaks Spanish, the waves are good and I hope to keep advancing."

Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande The event site at the Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande in Mar del Plata, Argentina. - WSL / Mariano Antunez

The unofficial host of the Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande is local hero, Leandro Usuna (ARG), who on Thursday, surfed in his 22nd heat, the most in the history of the event. Another historic feat accomplished by Usuna is the fact that he is the only non-Brazilian to ever win the WSL South America Regional Championship, which he clinched in 2016. With the full support from the hometown crowd, Usuna hopes to finally win the event in Mar del Plata.

"It's been a while since the last international surf contest in Argentina, so it's always good to be competing at home and seeing all my friends and family from all over South America," said Usuna. "I'm stoked that I got some good waves in my heat and I feel like I got the job done. The talent level here is really high and surfers like Alonso (Correa) and others compete very well, so I knew it wasn't going to be easy. Regardless of who you are, there are always some nerves in your first heat, so I'm glad that I made it through, especially with Alonso, who's a really good friend," completed Usuna.

Leandro Usuna Hometown hero Leandro Usuna (ARG) displaying his local knowledge at the Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande. - WSL / Mariano Antunez

Usuna will now move on to Heat 2 of the Round of 16 and will face Leo Casal (BRA), Rodrigo Saldanha (BRA) and Noel de la Torre (CHL). A call is set for 8:00 a.m. (GMT-3) for continuation of the Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Watch all the action LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com

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