Quality waves in the 3-to-4 foot range (1 meter) were on hand for the first day of competition at the 2015 World Surf League (WSL) men's and women's Huanchaco Repalsa Longboard Pro presented by Claro and Samsung at Playa El Elio, Peru.
In the men's division, local surfer and 2013 WSL Longboard Tour (LT) world champion, Piccolo Clemente (PER) lived up to expectations as he plowed through competition. Clemente earned the highest heat score in Round 1 and in Round 2 (15.50 and 16.00, respectively) and is guaranteed a spot in the Quarterfinals.
"I'm very happy with the conditions today and I'm stoked that the waves came my way," said Clemente. "Tomorrow the man-on-man phase begins and we'll see how things will turn out. I want to maintain the same strategy and keep increasing my scores little by little. This is my beach and it feels amazing to have all the support from the crowd behind me."
Clemente, who has already won the WSL South America Longboard title twice, will face two-time champion Rodrigo Sphaier (BRA) in Heat 1 of the Quarterfinals.
"It feels great to be back here for another year in such a beautiful place and surrounded by great friends," Sphaier said. "I didn't feel like I had the best wave selection during my heats, but I'm happy that I've made it this far. Clemente and I have both won this event twice, so we're both going for the tiebreaker. In the water, we both want to win, but on land we're very close friends."
Big upsets took place today as respected surfers Tony Silvagni (USA) and Phil Rajzman (BRA) were eliminated from competition. Lucas Garrido Lecca (PER) eliminated Silvagni after repeatedly "hanging-five" to score the day's second highest heat total, a 15.75.
"I was analyzing the conditions with my coach, Renato Quezada, and we've been obtaining some good results so far," Lecca said. "I think that the waves were better in the morning, but Huanchaco always provides great waves. My goal has been to start strong in each heat against my opponents so I can build up my confidence for a solid finish."
Rajzman, who claimed the 2007 WSL LT title, has made it to the Finals for the past two years at Huanchaco, and also made it to the Finals at the 2014 world championship in China. However, Rajzman was not able to summon a set with enough scoring potential and was subsequently eliminated by fellow-Brazilian Matheus Cunha (BRA).
"This is my fifth time to Peru and it always feels exciting to be here," Cunha said. "I couldn't make it to the event last year, so there was no way I was missing it again this year. I've gotten close to winning it in the past, so reaching first place is definitely something I hope to achieve. The waves here are very similar to my home break in Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro. The long lefts here make me feel completely at home."
In the women's division, defending 2014 WSL South America Longboard champion Atalanta Batista (BRA) left no doubt about her determination to claim the title once again as she powered her way through to the Semifinals. She will face Cristina Pires (BRA) in Heat 1.
"This is the first time I ever competed in a woman-on-woman heat, so I'm still trying to figure out my strategy when it comes to priority," Reyes said. "On my best wave, I didn't know if I should've gone for it or not. I wanted to pull a 'hang-ten,' but the wave has a really fast section here that makes it hard to handle the board once it hits the sandbar. I was nervous before, but I'm stoked to make it to the Semifinals."