The QS5,000 Nias Pro delivered exactly what everyone was expecting as a solid groundswell flowed onto the beautiful Lagundri Bay headland providing absolute perfection with open barrels in the 6-to-8 foot range.
This was the day when local Indonesian surfers would shine! So many outstanding talents throughout Indonesia and with probably the best array of surf anywhere in the world, it's no surprise Indonesia is emerging as a surfing power.
Yoza Zagoto (Nias/Indonesia) embodies the Indonesian surfer. He posted an incredible 9.5 during his first heat today and simply patiently waited for the right wave to come to him late in the heat to show his talent. One of the larger set waves requiring commitment, skill and courage saw Zagoto slide into a deep barrel where he stayed for an eternity before cleanly exiting to the cheers of all the locals.
"I just waited for the right wave, the biggest wave which I know and love," he said. "I live in Bali now but I love returning to my family in Nias and surfing this great wave. It's a great day for local Indonesians to surf today."
Within an hour of Zagoto claiming the event's top scoring ride, fellow Indonesian Ryuki Waida would top the scale by posting a near perfect 9.65. Ryuki is the younger brother of emerging star and recent Challenger Series victor Rio Waida and he is hot on the footsteps of his brother.
"I hope to surf the Challenger Series soon and CT as well with my brother," said Waida. "That was a fantastic barrel and I hope to score many more in this event."
Unfortunately for Zagoto and Waida, both were eliminated late in the day during the Round of 32 where both suffered from slower heats that didn't really give them the opportunities they would have hoped for. They placed 17th and 25th respectively.
At day's end, Indonesians Oney Anwar and Varun Tandjung survived the Round of 32 heats to advance to tomorrow's finals day and they are certain to be cheered on by the large and passionate local crowds.
One of the most popular competitors here is CT veteran Nathan Hedge. The 43 year old looked in superb condition and won through his Round of 32 heat today impressively.
"I'm really enjoying surfing here," said Hedge. "I enjoy mixing with the younger surfers and sharing some of my experience as well. I was here back in the late 90's competing to qualify for the CT and I have great memories and it's amazing to be back here."
Young emerging Australians Xavier Huxtable (highest scoring ride 9.67) and Oscar Berry stood out late in the day both advancing with huge scores along with highly impressive performances from Japan's Yuji Nishi, South Africa's Jordy Maree and Sweden's Kian Martin.
In an all-time day at Nias, surfers scored an impressive 14 excellent scores (above 8, out of 10 points) and countless that came very close to the excellent range; five standout surfers even managed to break the 9 point barrier.
Event organisers will reconvene at Lagundri Bay to make the call on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. local time for a potential 7a.m. start of what could potentially be the QS5,000 Finals Day. 16 surfers remain in contention for the junior crowns as well, which could conclude Monday.