The inaugural Copa El Salvador Impresionante presented by Body Glove Women's Qualification Series (QS) 6,000 has its winner -- Sage Erickson (USA). The California native picked apart the slow conditions in the Final but found two scores to overtake one of the contest's leading surfer, Keely Andrew (AUS). With the 6,000 points earned, Erickson is now tied for first on the QS rankings with Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW).
"This was a surreal event for me and I'm so stoked to win," Erickson said. "The competition has never been higher and I'm just thankful to be up here. There were some highs and lows but stoked to make it through every condition. It just makes that 2016 tour even closer and so thankful for all the support."
Erickson battled through a tough draw, coming up against fellow Championship Tour (CT) surfer Malia Manuel (HAW) in the Quarterfinals. After defeating Manuel, she then looked to be on her way out of the event in the Semifinal - needing a 5.48. As the horn blew Erickson landed a 5.97, carrying that momentum into the Final with an early lead.
"It was great to get the scores even though the conditions slowed down," Erickson said. "Keely is such a great competitor and she was doing so well this event so I knew I had to keep the pressure on. It was a great day, battling through each condition was tricky but there were waves out there with some scoring potential so I was stoked to get on a few."
Earning second, Andrew now moves into a potential CT qualification spot at no.4. Shining as one of Punta Roca's stand-out performers, the Australian was beaming with confidence going into the last heat but couldn't find the scores needed to overtake Erickson. Andrew was elated with a Final appearance and had a positive outlook from her result in El Salvador.
"I wanted to get a good result here and so stoked to make a Final," Andrew said. "There was so much good surfing and everything here was amazing. The Final was a little slow but I tried to make the best of my waves and Sage was just ripping. It's a result I can hold onto and now I'll get ready for the next one."
Narrowly missing the Final by a .54 margin, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) fell to the last second heroics of Erickson. Looking dangerous the entire contest, Macaulay put on a backhand showcase all the way to the end. Earning a valuable 3,550 points, the Australian will rise in the rankings and now sits just outside the CT qualification bubble at No. 7. This was her best finish on the QS thus far and now will go into the Europe QS leg looking to add more points.
"I'm happy with a third - it's my best result yet and overall pretty stoked," Macaulay said. "It's been one of the best waves we've had for a competition. We came a week early and they were just incredible. There is a lot of confidence going to the next one knowing I need a big result after losing in the first round of the last two events. It was great to get into the Semifinals of this one and I'll be looking for another good finish."
In an all Aussie Semifinal affair, CT surfer Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) was eliminated by Andrew in another close heat. The two went wave for wave, but Van Dijk couldn't find a score to back up her excellent 8.60. Andrew went on to solidify the wine with a 9.17 on her last wave. Moving forward with this loss as a learning experience, Van Dijk knows what she could've done and will take that to the next contest.
"It's definitely a keeper but still really frustrating after getting another Semifinal in Oceanside," Van Dijk said. "I just couldn't get it going today but I still had a great time here - these waves were amazing so it was unfortunate to have a little slower heat. I made some mistakes on choosing the wrong waves at the start and then a couple of paddle mistakes at the end - it's all learning and good for me because I can point that out. Just have to keep the ball rolling."