The World Surf League (WSL) U.S. Air Force Super Girl Surf Pro, a Qualifying Series (QS) 3000, presented moments of brilliants on opening day in three-to-four foot swell leftover from Hurricane Nicole. Some of North America and Hawaii/Tahiti Nui's QS newcomers rose to the occasion and delivered solid performances as the Round of 80 was finished in its entirety. Now, the top seeds await along with a live webcast beginning Saturday, November 12.
One of Florida's newest QS editions, Alana Lopez, unleashed her forehand attack to earn the day's highest single-wave score of a 6.67 (out of a possible 10) and heat total, a 12.00 (out of a possible 20). The Daytona Beach Shores competitor is under the mentorship of her father, former Championship Tour (CT) surfer Cory Lopez, and built her confidence heading into a big weekend of competition.
"It was pretty exciting to show up and see that they were running," said Lopez. "I saw some punchy, barreling waves and I'm not necessarily the best at those waves. Also, the wind was blowing me off the wave on turns so I was stoked to do well in these conditions. Early on, it's good to win because it's only going to get harder and harder from here."
The Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region made their way to Jacksonville Beach to earn valuable points and Malia Lima made her debut count. Lima is fresh off a Semifinal finish at the Sunset Pro presented by HIC and utilized her powerful forehand to secure another early heat win, with hopes of going deep into this event.
"That heat win felt good," said Lima. "I was a little worried in the last few minutes because anything can happen. But, I just breathe and use the breathing techniques I practice. It's really good to come here so we're not competing against the same girls over and over, and I want to qualify for the Challenger (Series). If I don't I'll just continue to work on my surfing but that's the goal."
Encinitas, California's Maddie Stanton took over opening day proceedings with a solid performance in the peaky conditions. The 14-year-old's forehand attack overpowered the sections on offer to accrue an 10.17 heat total. A once Super Girl Surf Pro bystander, Stanton now looks to make her mark on the top-seeded Round of 64.
"It was hard to find the right wave so I was happy to get a win," said Stanton. "I used to go to all the Super Girl events and watch my role models surf, and now I'm in it so it's really cool. Everyone rips so it's super fun to compete against these girls."
On Thursday, November 10, Championship Tour (CT) phenom Caroline Marks provided some of the East Coast's next generation of young women surfers with the 'Caroline Marks Surf Experience' ahead of the event. Marks was joined by former CT star Sage Erickson, North Shore, Oahu standout Moana Jones Wong, rising talent Erin Brooks, and Atlantic Beach's own Sophie Falzone.
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. EDT to determine a likely 8:00 a.m. EDT start.