Highlights: Surfers Soar at O'Neill SP Prime
With building swell and a narrowing field, QS and WCT surfers battled for valuable points.

The O'Neill SP Prime wrapped up Round 2 and finished the no-losers round as favorable conditions prevailed off the coast of Maresias. Filipe Toledo (BRA) once again showed that he is a highlight machine. With his progressive aerial maneuvers, Toledo received the event's first 10-point ride on a huge backside 360. After finding his rhythm, Toledo scored two additional waves in the 9-point range, discarding one, to earn the highest heat total of the event with a 19.63 (out of a possible 20 points).

"It's been a while that I haven't had a heat like this, where I'm dropping high scores in my total," Toledo said. Speaking specifically about the perfect ride: "I dropped in a little late and I thought I wasn't going to make the section. I tried to speed up and then all of a sudden, a perfect ramp appeared in front of me. It was perfect timing.

"If I had been just a little bit farther behind, I wouldn't have made it. I actually thought that I wasn't going to make it because I went really high and I landed right in the flats. I was a little nervous because I'm just recovering from a foot injury and I didn't want to re-injure it. But everything worked out and I'm stoked I got the 10."

Filipe Toledo (BRA) Toledo scored a Perfect 10 in Round 2. - WSL

In addition to the 10-point air, Toledo received two nine-pointers, including a near-perfect a 9.93 for a massive Kerrupt flip in the following round. His performance left both Heitor Alves (BRA) and Jack Freestone (AUS) deep in combination needing 19.00 points to recover.

Italo Ferreira (BRA) once again faced current World Championship Tour (WCT) leader Gabriel Medina (BRA) in his own backyard when the two met in Round 3. In the Round of 96, Ferreira took down Medina, but Medina was able to avoid elimination in the next round. In Round 3, Ferreira once again displayed a remarkable knack for finding the right waves and landing big maneuvers. After falling behind, Medina was called for an interference and will face elimination in the Round of 24 where he is matched up with fellow WCT surfer Julian Wilson (AUS).

"That was a great heat and it feels great to make it into the next round," said Ferreira, who now sits at fifth on the Qualification Series (QS) rankings. "Gabriel made that mistake, but stuff like that happens. I found some good waves and I felt like I surfed well.

"Now I'm ready to focus on Round 5. I haven't been thinking about the WCT because I don't want to lose focus of the contest here. I think I can lose concentration if I just start thinking about points. Right now I need to think about heats and take them one by one."

Julian Wilson (AUS) finishing second in Round 3. With the elimination of QS frontrunners, surfers like Duru have a chance to leap in the rankings. - WSL

The QS rankings were shaken up once again after several of the top-ranked surfers were eliminated from competition at the O'Neill SP Prime. Jadson Andre (BRA), Tomas Hermes (BRA), Jesse Mendes (BRA), Willian Cardoso (BRA), Ricardo Christie (NZL), Brett Simpson (USA), Tim Reyes (USA) and Jeremy Flores (FRA) have all exited from competition at the O'Neill SP Prime. The door is wide open for vertical improvement from the athletes looking to qualify for the WCT. Only those ranked in the Top 10 of the QS standings at the end of the year will make it onto the elite squad in 2015.

In his heat win against Wilson and Brent Dorrington (AUS), Joan Duru (FRA) earned 2,400 points and was able to leap from 19th to 11th on the QS rankings.

"It feels great to be getting this many points," said Duru, who obtained two waves in the excellent range -- an 8.97 and an 8.83 -- for strong backside hacks at Maresias. "The waves were great today, but once the tide started coming in, it got more difficult. So I had to stay patient against such great surfers like Julian [Wilson] and Brent [Dorrington]. I felt like I had to go really big, so I'm happy that things worked out."

Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) winning his Round 3 heat. He advanced directly into Round 5 of the O'Neill SP Prime. McGonagle is one of two Costa Rican surfers dominating the O'Neill SP Prime. - WSL

Carlos Munoz and Noe Mar McGonale, the "Pura Vida" athletes from Costa Rica, have taken the O'Neill SP Prime in Maresias by storm. Munoz has consistently proven he can take his high energy and transfer it into high scores in competition. His fellow countryman, McGonagle, impressed the world with his powerful surfing and elegant rail game at the ASP World Junior Championship in Portugal and has been making his mark on the QS with his performance at Maresias.

"This is the first Prime I've ever participated in," said McGonagle. "I've never gotten so many ranking points, so I'm very happy with my performance here. I'm from Pavones, which is a lefthand pointbreak in Costa Rica. So it's very different from the waves here, but I've been trying to adapt."

The next call is set for 7:30 am (local time) Friday to begin the Round of 24. Watch all the action LIVE.

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