Competition continued on Thursday for Day 2 of the World Surf League (WSL) QS 3000 LayBack Pro pres. by Billabong in Florianopolis, Brazil. Despite a slight decrease in swell, the summertime banks in Floripa have greatly improved over the past few months, providing ample scoring opportunities for the international field of athletes at the final event of the 2022/23 WSL South America season.
The Women's QS 3000 took to the water today, as nine competitors still have a chance to reach the Top 3 spots that will qualify for the WSL 2023 Challenger Series. In a shocking upset, current rankings leader Daniella Rosas (PER) was eliminated in the first heat of the day. However, her current point total still guarantees her a spot on the Challenger Series.
Rosas can still become a 3-time WSL South America Champion, but is now threatened by Dominic Barona (ECU), Sol Aguirre (PER) and Isabelle Nalu (BRA). Local surfer Nalu was able to advance in 1st place, advancing alongside former event winner Laura Raupp (BRA).
"I'm super happy to make it through my first heat," said Nalu. "I was able to perform well, but not as much as I could because the waves were really small. The talent level here is off the charts, so I just wanted to focus on myself. This is the most important event of my career because I can qualify for the Challenger Series, but I'm still just trying to stay in the moment and hopefully everything will work out."
In the following heat, two-time WSL South America Champion and Olympic athlete Dominic Barona (ECU) advanced over Sophia Gonçalves (BRA) and Maya Carpinelli (BRA).
"Conditions are difficult and the peaks keep moving along the lineup, but I'm still happy to advance," said Barona. "It's great to be back in Brazil competing and all the girls have been surfing really well. Everyone is a champion for being here competing on the QS, and I hope to clinch another title here."
Sol Aguirre (PER), who is also in the regional title race, got off to a good start at the LayBack Pro by winning her heat over Catalina Mercere (ARG) and Valeria Ojeda (VEN).
"I'm super happy because I was so anxious to compete. I spent the entire day watching all the girls surf and being in the last heat was really difficult," said Aguirre. "I'm glad I found the right waves to get into the next round. Now it's all about focusing on each heat and I'll definitely do my best to get a good result here."
On Friday, the Round of 16 for the women will begin with Tainá Hinckel (BRA) facing up against Melanie Giunta (PER), Julia Duarte (BRA) and Laura Raupp.
MEN'S ROUND OF 16 SET FOR FRIDAY
In the Men's division, new scoring records for the event were set by Igor Moraes (BRA) in Heat 1 of the Round of 32. He earned an excellent 9.00 (out of a possible 10 points) for the highest single wave score on a full rotation aerial at Praia Mole.
"It feels really good. This is my second heat and building this momentum is really important," said Moraes. "Honestly, the wave wasn't that great, but I just kept speeding down the line and when that section came up, I just went for it. I'm not worried about ranking points or the Challenger Series, I just want to surf my best."
Weslley Dantas (BRA) made a huge impact in the regional rankings making it to the Round of 16 and is currently in 7th place, the final qualification position for the 2023 Challenger Series, removing Nacho Gundesen (ARG) from the top spots.
"I'm totally exhausted and out of breath," said Dantas following his heat win. "My heat was stacked and luckily I made it out of it. But I've been super focused, I lost 10 kilos of weight these past few months and I feel like my surfing is better than ever. I love surfing and even though I'm in the hunt for a spot on the CS, I don't feel any pressure."
A call has been set for 7:30 AM (GMT-3) for continuation of the LayBack Pro pres. by Billabong. For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com
The LayBack Pro presented by Billabong is sponsored by the City of Florianopolis, Oakberry and Corona, with the support of NEW ERA, Evoke, The Search House, BVIP Bank, Sehat, Hotel Selina, Nova Era Fera, the Praia Mole Surf Association (ASPM) and media partnership with waves.com.br