The World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) Shoe City Pro QS1000 finished competition today in consistent four-to-six feet, rebuilding swell as Maud Le Car (FRA) earned the win in the inaugural women's division. Posting massive numbers throughout the final day of competition, Le Car saved her best for last - posting the contest's highest single-scoring wave of 9.37 and heat total, 16.04 in the Final.
"I'm so stoked to get the win and start this year much better than I did last year," Le Car said. "It was so fun out there and I've been training so hard to work on my combination surfing in waves like this -- it's a dream start. Just having Tia, who was ripping, and Meah who knows this spot perfectly along with Mainei in the lineup was unbelievable. I'm just happy to get the waves and come away with a win."
Building momentum all the way into the Final, Le Car won each of her heats en route to her title and $2,000. Earning a 9.17 in the Quarterfinals, the Capbreton local was in-form throughout the contest and looked to be a force to be reckoned with since the opening day of Women's competition. With the win, her year is off to a great start and will look to continue her roll into the event.
"I felt so good in the water and just tried to keep that going the whole contest," Le Car added. "Now I leave for Israel tomorrow to compete in the contest out there," Le Car added. "It'll be the first time they run that one so to get another win there would be amazing. Hopefully there's waves at that event."
Already in competitive form coming from a Quarterfinal appearance at her first World Junior Championships, Tia Blanco (USA) earned runner-up at the Shoe City Pro. Chasing down Le Car after losing the lead, the Newport Beach local had one last chance in the dying minutes to take that lead back. But, it wasn't to be as Blanco fell short of the 8.45 needed after a fantastic showing at the event.
"It feels pretty good even though I really wanted to win," said Blanco. "Maud was just surfing amazing out there and made it so difficult - super happy for her and it was a really good event. With each round it just got tougher with the competitors really doing well and getting stronger throughout the contest so I was stoked to the make the Final."
Off to a great start to 2016, Blanco will take this experience into her preparation for the string of QS events abroad.
"I'm going to be doing all the 6,000's this year so I'm heading to Australia to do those events and really get the year going," Blanco added. "The more you train I feel like that will just reflect on your surfing so I'm looking forward to doing these bigger events. I don't really notice too much change in my surfing but I hope I just keep progressing and hoping for the best as this year continues."
Following up Blanco, Huntington Beach surfer Meah Collins (USA) earned third place in the stacked women's Final. Finding a solid rhythm throughout this event, the 16-year-old found great success and is poised for a great year ahead of her in both the QS and Pro Junior series.
"This was my first QS Final so I'm super happy with my result here and feel that I got to show more of my potential," Collins said. "I'm really proud to have competed this well and think this will be a great momentum booster toward the rest of year. I really want to do better on the QS this year and stay strong on the Pro Junior circuit as well - last year I did well on the QS but now I want to do even better and keep working on staying strong."
Wrapping up the podium in fourth place, Hawaiian Mainei Kinimaka (HAW) put on a display of what she is capable of in her power surfing and sharp technical skill. Not quite finding her groove in the Final, Kinimaka was still elated with her performance over the two days of competition with exceptional conditions.
"It's always great to start on a good note in the QS and this is my first QS Final so I'm stoked on that," Kinimaka said. "I definitely felt that momentum picking up, especially in that Semifinal where I posted my best scores so I felt really good going into the Final. But by the time the Final came around I was just so tired with the conditions and a lot of current coming through. I'm going to do the QS events in Australia and also back those up with the events in Cabo and El Salvador so I really want to keep my performances going and hopefully make a few more finals."