The World Surf League (WSL) Maui and Sons Arica Pro Tour QS 5000 began in challenging conditions with big barrels and heavy wipeouts at El Gringo in Arica, Chile. The powerful waves and sharp, urchin-riddled reef left no room for mistakes, and many competitors opted to use helmets as an added safety measure. Only eight of the sixteen heats of the Round of 64 were run today due to strong onshore winds which picked up in the early afternoon. A call is set for 8:00 a.m. (GMT-4) for continuation of the competition.
Pedro Amorim (BRA) surfed the best barrel of the day. In Heat 7 of the Round of 64, Amorim paddled into a huge lefthander, got slotted deep into the barrel and came out cleanly to earn an 8.33, the highest single-wave score of the day.
"I was in the right spot when that set came in and I'm super stoked I made it, especially since this is my first time here," said Amorim. "The feeling you get surfing these barrels is inexplicable. Just to be competing at this event that has such history behind it and all these amazing athletes is an honor. So to catch the best ride of the day and be part of this history is an indescribable feeling."
The Arica Pro Tour is the first QS 5000 of the year for the WSL South America region and can potentially have a dramatic effect on the regional rankings. Ryan Kainalo (BRA) and Heitor Mueller (BRA) are two athletes that are creating a lot of buzz as part of the newest generation of talent coming out of Brazil. They currently sit in 4th and 5th place respectively on the regional rankings and both advanced into the Round of 32.
"I'm feeling good now, but I have to admit that I was a bit nervous in my heat," said Kainalo. "When the wave comes, you've got to go, but it breaks really close to the rocks. But after I caught a few, I was able to relax and feel more comfortable with my surfing. The forecast looks huge for tomorrow, so I'm not sure we'll be able to run, but I'll continue to surf as much as possible here to get a better feel for the place."
However, other surfers currently in the regional Top 10 did not fare so well. Gabriel Andre (BRA), who sits in 2nd and Lucas Vicente (BRA) in 9th on the rankings were both eliminated in the opening round. Both will lose ground in the rankings with the crucial points on offer in Arica.
Conditions could potentially become unruly tomorrow with projections foreseeing a significant uptick in swell with waves in the 12-to-15 foot range. Event organizers and WSL staff with convene in the morning to decide if competition will be run.
When competition does continue, Mateus Sena (BRA) will matchup against Matheus Navarro (BRA), Joaquin del Castillo (PER) and Nicolas Ramon Falcon (CHL).