The World Surf League (WSL) Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande QS 1000 began in favorable conditions at the beach break known as Biologia at Playa Grande, in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Both men's and women's divisions saw action on Thursday. The men's Round of 32 was completed and featured Mateus Herdy (BRA) and Gabriel Andre (BRA) earning the highest scores of the opening round.
Herdy, one of Brazil's best young surfers, was in the first heat of the day and easily advanced into the Round of 16 over Nicolas Hermida (ARG) and Joaquin Muñoz Larreta (ARG). Herdy is returning from a season-long injury and hopes to make a strong comeback in 2023.
In the following heat, local surfer Juan Ruggiero (ARG) earned the first score of the competition in the excellent range, earning an 8.00 from the judges. Ruggiero will now match up in Heat 1 of the Round of 16 against Herdy, Lautaro Thill (ARG) and Martin Ottado (URY).
"My strategy was to catch the biggest waves out the back and luckily I caught some good ones and surfed well," said Ruggiero. "The talent level of the athletes at this event is really high, so if you don't surf well, you're not advancing. That's why I'm going to give everything I have in each heat. It seems like the big swells come in like clockwork every Easter Weekend, so it's great to be surfing here at home with all of my friends."
Later in the day, Gabriel Andre attacked the lefthanders at Biologia and displayed powerful surfing to earn the highest heat wave total of the day. On his first wave, Andre scored a 7.00, then towards the end of the heat, he found another long left, executed several consecutive maneuvers and earned an 8.00 for a 15.00 total (out of a possible 20 points).
"I've been feeling really good, especially since I'm staying with a family that always invites me to stay with them when I'm in town. That takes a lot of the stress off my mind and I can focus solely on the competition," said Andre. " I felt like I had a good start to the event, caught some good waves and I just hope to maintain this rhythm tomorrow. I feel like I know this wave pretty well and it's similar to my home break in Guarujá in São Paulo. I came here with the intentions of winning the event, so hopefully I'll be on the podium on the weekend."
Following the men's competition, the Women's QS 1000 hit the water. In the first heat, Arena Rodriguez Vargas (PER) continued her in-form surfing after making it to the Finals at the QS 1000 in the Galapagos Islands last week. Vargas advanced into the Quarterfinals in Argentina and will now face Julia Duarte (BRA) in Heat 1.
"The waves have some good size and they're kind of difficult to surf, but I knew I wanted to catch a bomb as soon as it was my turn to surf," said Vargas. "I'm happy that I advanced and I just want to thank everyone that's watching in Peru and sending support." In the final heat of the day, Argentinian surfer Ornella Pellizari (ARG) got the crowd excited after defeating Peruvians Melanie Giunta (PER) and Brianna Barthelmess (PER) in the Round of 16. Pellizari will now face Victoria Larreta (ARG) in Heat 4 of the Quarterfinals.
"That was really exciting, I caught some good waves and the swell always pumps this time of year," said Pellizzari. "I had some tough competitors in my heat and we were all paddling around to find the best waves. But I'm stoked I made it through my first heat, especially at an event at home in Argentina."
For full results and more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com The Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande is brought to you by Biologia Club and sanctioned by the World Surf League as the second event of the WSL South America 2023/2024 season. The Rip Curl Pro Playa Grande is sponsored by Rip Curl, Corona, McDonalds, Monster Energy, ENARD - Ente Nacional de Alto Rendimiento Deportivo, the City of Mar del Plata, the Sports Secretary of Argentina, Argentina Surf Association.