The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Shoe City Pro QS1000 opened Day 2 with the start of the Women's competition in beautiful four-to-six foot, clean swell. Winter conditions delivered for a second day in a row on the Southside of the Huntington Beach Pier. Immediately following Women's Round 1, the Men's competition resumed with numerous excellent scores posted. Round 2 was completed as well as Round 3 to end the day - setting up the Quarterfinal draws for the Women and Round 4 for the Men.
Moana Jones (HAW) came to Huntington Beach looking for a dream start to her QS campaign but was nearly forced to withdrawal due to illness. But, despite limited pre-event surfing, Jones was able to find a great rhythm and post the highest single-wave score, 7.67 out of a possible 10, and heat total with an impressive 15.04.
"It felt really good to get some momentum going into tomorrow and post those two scores," Jones said. "I got sick last night so I wasn't sure I was even going to do the contest but felt a lot better this morning and felt good to get the first heat out of the way. I didn't really surf since I got here two days ago except once just to get out in the water but just haven't been feeling well so that heat was my first real surf."
"It was fun out there and getting that last wave on my fronthand for what ended up being my highest score felt great," Jones added. "That wave just kept going and let me keep snapping into it and put a finishing touch on it so I was super stoked. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully we keep getting some fun waves for the last day."
Matching up against Jones in the Quarterfinals, Tia Blanco (USA) had her own phenomenal start to the Shoe City Pro. Posting a 14.67 heat total, Blanco looked in-form following her success competing at the World Junior Championships prior to this event and is ready to get a fresh year underway.
"I feel like I'm surfing pretty well and just trying to focus on myself in my own little bubble," Blanco said. "It felt really good, prior to this heat I was little nervous because I didn't see too much opportunities but definitely got a little lucky - some good sets just came right to me. This is my first year not doing Junior events so there won't be as many events to worry about and I can just focus on the main ones and work hard. Since it's such a short event it'd be amazing to get into the Finals tomorrow and come out of here with a win but really just have stay focused on the next heat, the girls here are so talented and every heat is going to be a challenge."
Starting the morning off with a near-excellent 7.33, Maud Le Car (FRA) earned one of the higher single-wave scores of Round 1 right away. Le Car found a right on her first wave that began to open up and allow the French-caribbean surfer to unleash a number of frontside turns.
"It's a little bit hard out there just because I didn't know where to sit but I found that 7.33 on a wave that I didn't think was going to much at the start," Le Car said. "I had to wait for it to build but then it began to wall up and I was really stoked to do some bigger turns. It's great to make it to a Quarterfinal in the first contest and really get things going so I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
Gearing back into a competitive mindset after time away, Le Car looks to be a big threat here at the Shoe City Pro and get her QS season started in the right way with some new changes.
"It feels super good to get back in the water after a long time without competing since the Pantin Classic in September and I'm happy to be in California," Le Car added. "I love this wave to get my new boards under my feet and put a jersey back on. I picked up my Mayhems two days ago so I'm super excited with these boards and it always feels great to get set up for the bigger events - this contest is pretty important to me in that sense."
The Women will begin their Quarterfinals at 9:20am after the Men complete their Round 4 match-ups. Look for live scoring at www.worldsurfleague.com and see who will win the first Women's QS event of 2016.