It’s almost unfair to compare as they all surfed on a lower tide, in slightly different conditions, but the first surfers who started posting big scores paved the way for the later performance of Devault and Johnson in some way.
Californian Nat Young (USA), one of the most prominent righthand pointbreak surfers on tour, once again showed class on the long and perfect waves, finding the pocket repeatedly and timing all this turns to fit the rhythm of the wave.
“I came here this morning and it was bombing for sure,” Young said. “I just have this magic shortboard that I just know works so good. It felt a little bit big out there on it so I was a little unsure but I trust it so well and it went fine in that heat. I would have loved to surf again today. It’s just so good out there but the forecast looks good for the next couple of days so either way, I’m stoked to surf in man-on-man heats next.”
Carlos Munoz (CRI) brought a little flair to the party on his forehand, finding a gem that grew as it went down the reef to give him countless opportunities. The variety in each of his turns proved lethal as he posted a 9 point ride, the highest of the day at that point.
“I was definitely nervous before and at the beginning of that heat,” Munoz admitted. “I let that first wave go and I wasn’t sure but I kept calm and I managed to find a bomb. I saw everyone get those in the free surf and finally I got mine. I think my training works well, I don’t catch many waves so I have to make it count and that’s what I did.”
The last winner of the event as a QS back in 2019 Samuel Pupo (BRA), his compatriot Alejo Muniz (BRA), Australian underdogs Jackson Baker (AUS) and Callum Robson (AUS) as well as Cole Houshmand (USA) all posted excellent (8+) scores on their way to qualifying for the Round of 16.
Pictured: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) continues to impress with turns like this. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot
Long time CT surfer Silvana Lima (BRA) put on another dominant effort to dispatch Keely Andrew (AUS) and move into the Quarters. The Brazilian’s dynamic and fast surfing of the waves set the tone in the opening women heat of the day, posting an amazing 17.20 heat total.
“The waves were so good out there it reminded me of J-Bay,” Lima said. “I’m so happy to get through and get another opportunity to surf those waves. My board’s a little small for this, it’s only a 5’7 but it worked out and I’m so happy.”
Currently on top of the Challenger Series rankings, Gabriela Bryan (HAW) belted a clutch win to advance into the Quarters. Facing local Yolanda Hopkins (PRT) in front of a beach, packed with support for their athlete, Bryan managed to snag the winning ride in the dying moments of their matchup and comforted her leader status.
The next call will be at Ribeira d’Ilhas at 7:35 a.m (WEST) on Friday with expected similar conditions and potentially even more size in the lineup.