As the weather forecast predicted, an uptick in swell provided another epic day of scoring opportunities on Day 4 of the World Surf League (WSL) Saquarema Surf Festival in Memory of Leo Neves and presented by Prefeitura de Saquarema. The solid waves in the 4-6 foot range offered the athletes a variety of options on the drawn-out faces at Praia de Itaúna and culminated in a collection of high scores.
In the Women's QS 5000, Luana Silva (BRA) continued her torrid pace and surpassed her previous record-setting heat total of 15.00 points (out of a possible 20) by earning a 15.27 in Heat 1 of the Round of 16.
"It feels great to be representing Brazil and competing here for the first time," said Silva. "I'm happy that I've made it to the Quarterfinals in the Qualifying Series and the Pro Junior division as well. All the girls have been surfing incredibly well and the energy from the people here has been very positive for me as well. The Brazilians are so passionate about surfing, so it's an honor to receive so much support and be part of the next generation of Brazilian surfers."
Silva will now face fellow Hawaiian-Brazilian Summer Macedo (BRA) in the Women's Qualifying Series (QS) division. Macedo, who is currently dating local surfer João Chianca (BRA), has been investing her time heavily in Saquarema and has called it her second home.
As the offshore wind picked up in the morning and the swell continued to rise, so did the performances from the athletes. In Heat 1 of the Round of 32 in the Men's QS 5000, José Gundesen (ARG) annihilated a long lefthander with three expressive carves to earn a 9.0 (out of a possible 10 points) for the highest single wave score of the event.
"I made a mistake on wave before, so I was kind of pissed off," said Gundesen. "But I knew there would be others during the heat, so when that wave came I tried to use all of my frustration in my favor and belted each turn as hard as I could. This event is really important for me in terms of rankings, so I needed to make this heat. But my goal is to win the event. I've already made two Finals this year, so my will to win is gigantic," declared Gundesen.
Another athlete that took advantage of the stellar conditions at Praia de Itaúna was Rafael Teixeira (BRA). In one of the highest scoring heats of the event, Teixeira advanced in 1st place with an excellent 16.43 total and advanced into the Round of 32 alongside his good friend, Krystian Kymerson (BRA), who earned a 15.63 total.
"I'm so happy and I think I was blessed today by receiving the best waves at exactly the right moments," said Teixeira during his post-heat interview as he fought back tears. "It was a special heat, especially with Kymerson advancing too. We've competed against each other since we were kids, but I needed to advance because my main goal is to qualify for the Challenger Series this year. Last year I was part of the Challenger, but I lost in the first round of each contest, so I've been super focused, training hard and I feel like it's my time to shine."
A call is set for 8:00 AM (GMT-3) on Thursday for continuation of the Saquarema Surf Festival. In the Men's QS 5000, Heat 1 of the Round of 16 will see José Gundesen (ARG) matchup against Wesley Leite (BRA), Francisco Bellorin (VEN) and Ryan Kainalo (BRA).
The Saquarema Surf Festival in memory of Leo Neves is licensed by WSL Latin America to 213 Sports as a Qualifying Series event and includes WSL South America regional qualifiers for the Junior and Longboard World Championships. The event is presented by the City of Saquarema and is sponsored by 51 ICE, Stanley, Surf Trip, Quiksilver, ROXY, Oakley, Layback Beer; in addition to the support of Monster Energy, New Era, Australian Gold, Bold Snacks, Castelhana Praia Hotel; with media partnerships from Ricosurf.com, Waves, Lance!, Rádio Cidade, the Rio de Janeiro Surf Federation (FESERJ) and the Saquarema Surf Association. The event is broadcast live on WorldSurfLeague.com.