The final day of action at the World Surf League (WSL) Los Cabos Open of Surf finished in clean, three-to-four foot Zippers and crowned three champions for the Women's QS6000, Men's and Women's Junior events. Taking the top honor for the Women's QS, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) made it through an incredible field of talent here in Los Cabos and gained a hard-earned 6000 points towards Championship Tour (CT) qualification -- now sitting at the No. 2 spot on the rankings.
Capping off an incredible campaign at the Los Cabos Open of Surf Women's QS6000, Macaulay took down an in-form Dominic Barona (ECU) in exciting fashion. Receiving pristine Zippers conditions in the Final, it was an absolute battle for the victory that Macaulay had to earn with only two minutes remaining.
"I was super fortunate that wave came through and just over the moon to win this event," Macaulay said. "It's really exciting win you get a wave like that in the final minutes and post the score you need. I was making a lot of errors and had to keep pushing myself through - can't believe I just won my first QS6000 it hasn't really even sunk in it."
Already making a name for herself on the Championship Tour (CT), as an injury replacement for Lakey Peterson (USA), the Australian is comfortable in a jersey despite not competing on the QS for some time. Macaulay did not have an easy road to the final and had to beat defending Los Cabos champion Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) in the Semifinals.
"These points are really valuable in order to qualify which is my goal competing this year," Macaulay added. "The last QS I did was in February so it's pretty weird but I've been competing the whole time so I feel like I was really well set coming in here with my understanding of competition. Getting that experience in the CT has just helped so much and what it takes to beat these amazing women."
Making her first appearance in a Women's QS event, Dominic Barona (ECU) made a massive impact on the Women's QS scene here at Zippers. Taking down CT standout Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), and Brazilian powerhouse Silvana Lima (BRA) - who retained the highest heat total of the event with an 18.10 and single-wave score, 9.60. Barona was brought to tears of joy coming onto the beach and showed how much this win meant to her after nearly missing out on the contest.
"I'm so excited I was able to make that final, it was really a dream come true," Barona said. "I knew I could've taken this event, but I made some mistakes in that heat and it cost me the title. Above all I'm so thankful to God I have this opportunity to be here with friends and doing what I love, that's more important to me I think."
"I was so close to not making this event not having support and I actually had to sell some boards to make it down here and Ecuasol helped me so much at this contest. I'm just so fortunate to be here and I wish the industry looked to support Latin American surfers. But, those are the type of challenges that make you chase your dreams and move forward in life."
Eliminated by Barona in the Semifinals, good friend and part-time coach of the Ecuadorian, Silvana Lima (BRA) couldn't maintain her spectacular form and fell just shy of a Final. Earning a handful of the event's highest single-wave and heat total scores, Lima posted six excellent scores with her innovative and powerful surfing. Lima is on the hunt to return to CT glory and has a sense of reinvigorated fire coming into 2016.
"My board was so magical throughout this entire event and just couldn't find the waves in that last heat," Lima said. "I'm so happy for Dominic, she's a really good friend and I'll actually be coaching her in the final just to help her surf her best. My goal was to make a final here but it just wasn't meant to be. It's amazing to see where women's surfing is going and we all push each other to be at our best which is when my best surfing comes out -- I'm so impressed with the Junior girls here and can't wait to see what the next three years brings."
Though she was knocked out in the Semifinals by compatriot Macaulay, 2015 Los Cabos Open of Surf champion Nikki Van Dijk still sits atop the Women's QS rankings with Macaulay right behind her. Heading into El Salvador will be a massive turning point for a lot of these QS competitors and may see even more shakeups in the Top 6. The Copa El Salvador Impresionante begins June 15-19 where the women will have the competition to themselves in what is forecast to be a great event.