- WSL / Tim Hain

Competition has continued today at the Tamil Nadu International Surf Open World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 with the men's top seeds hitting the water at Mahabalipuram Beach. Performance levels lifted as conditions improved with clean surf in the two-foot-plus range. The Round of 48 and 6 Heats of the Round of 32 were completed before competition went on hold due to onshore winds.

Sivaraj Babu Sivaraj Babu - WSL / Tim Hain

Fresh of a Semifinal finish at the recent Bonsoy Chiba Ichinomiya Open in Japan, Joh Azuchi (JPN) carried his form into Heat 1 of the Round of 32, posting the highest two-wave total of the event so far. Azuchi's 14.15 combination (out of a possible 20) came from his razor-sharp frontside snaps which were a perfect match for the slow right-handers of Mahabalipuram Beach. Azuchi was in last place with eight minutes left but he was able to find his two scores with only minutes remaining.

"I was trying to get as many waves as I could from the start of the heat but I had a hard time getting good waves," Azuchi said. I was kind of nervous if I can pull it off or not, but in the end, somehow I managed to get two decent scores. I didn't expect to get such good scores but knew it would be enough to have me progress into the Round of 16. I really love India and especially the food here. My favourite dish is curry and naan so there is no problem finding that here. I've been having a great experience here in India."

Joh Azuchi Joh Azuchi - WSL / Tim Hain

Japanese duo Raiha Onou (JPN) and Daiki Tanaka (JPN) also looked solid, posting mid-range scores to progress into the Round of 16. Swedish representative Kian Martin (SWE) showed flashes while it was Dhany Widianto (INA) who won his heat with the maneuver of the day, a radical lay-back snap that was enough to get him over the line.

Earlier in the day, Indian competitors Sivaraj Babu (IND), Ajeesh Ali (IND) and Kishore Kumar (IND) all progressed through their Round of 48 heats, each putting up solid performances. Unfortunately for the local fans, Ali and Kumar were eliminated in the Round of 32 but have done their country proud, making history at the first WSL event on Indian Shores. Babu will compete in the final heat of the Round of 32 when competition resumes.

Sivaraj Babu Sivaraj Babu - WSL / Tim Hain

Event organisers will reconvene tomorrow to make a call at 6:30 a.m. local time for a possible 7:00 a.m. start.

The inaugural Tamil Nadu International Surf Open will run from August 14 - 20, 2023.

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