Tuesday kicked off the first event of the World Surf League (WSL) calendar of events in Chile with the opening rounds of the Men's QS 3000 Quiksilver Iquique Pro, as well as the initial heats of the first Pro Junior event of the WSL South America 2022/2023 season. Light winds and waves in the 3-5 foot range were breaking along the righthand, rocky pointbreak in Iquique. It was quite the contrast after a majority of the athletes went straight from tropical Bahia, in Brazil, to the cold waters off the Chilean coastline.
The waves in Iquique are best suited when power meets power. No one handled the waves better on Day 1 than heavy-footed Weslley Dantas (BRA), who displayed his powerful backhand on the punchy break at Playa Cavancha. Dantas earned three rides in the 7-point range with his best scores coming in at a 7.77 and a 7.27 for a heat total of 15.04, the highest of the day.
"It's great to be back here in Chile, despite the cold," jokingly added Dantas. "I'm happy everything worked out well and I found the right waves to get those scores. The first time I came to Iquique was in 2019 and I didn't feel like I got in rhythm with the waves here. But now, I think I know what to expect and adapted to how I could best show my surfing. It's still early in the event, but the waves are great and I look forward to the next round."
The only other athlete that came close to Dantas' performance was the Chilean Danilo Cerda (CHL), who had the full support of the raucous crowd on the rocky shoreline, cheering on not just Cerda, but the entire clique of Chilean surfers. Similar to Dantas, Cerda also used his powerful backhand surfing to impress the judges, earning a 13.83 total on his two best rides.
"I'm really happy to be back competing here in Iquique after such a long time without events. It's so important for our athletes to have competitions in our home country," declared Cerda. "I'm glad that I found the right waves and surfed them to the best of my ability. Honestly, I was a little bit nervous out there, because it's been a while since I've competed. But I came up here from Arica, where I live, two weeks ago, and I've been surfing here every day, so I feel like I know what I'm looking for in the water," completed Cerda.
Upon completion of the opening round of the Men's QS 3000, competition transitioned into the inaugural Quiksilver Men's Pro Junior event of the WSL South America season, which will distribute 1000 ranking points in the men's and women's divisions. In the first heat, the reigning 2022 WSL South America Pro Junior Champion, Cauã Costa (BRA), opened up with a dominant victory in the frigid waters off La Punta.
"I was super focused before I got in the water, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and thankfully, everything went according to plan," said Costa. "I'm happy I surfed well, the rights here are unbelievable. Everyone is having a good time, surfing their brains out and I'm ready for the next round. I know that I want to catch the set waves and do big turns. I feel that the quality of maneuvers here is what matters, not the quantity," finished Costa.
The first day of competition showcased the wide range of talent coming out of the WSL South America region with representatives from Brazil, Chile, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay, Ecuador, Venezuela and even the Dominican Republic. A call is set for 8:00 a.m. (GMT-4) for continuation of the Men's and Women's QS 3000 and Pro Junior 1000 Quiksilver/ROXY Iquique Pro. Watch all the action LIVE on the WSL Brasil YouTube channel, WorldSurfLeague.com and the WSL App.