The world-class righthand pointbreak of Punta Roca, La Libertad keeps delivering for the World Surf League (WSL) Women's Qualifying Series (QS) Copa El Salvador Impresionante QS6000 presented by Body Glove. Finishing rounds Four and Five in more three-to-five foot waves, the women matched the energy of the ocean with more excellent (meaning they ranged from an 8 to 10) and near-perfect scores throughout the day's action. After going into man vs. man in Round Five, Quarterfinal are draws set and a 2016 champion will be crowned tomorrow.
Earning her spot into a Quarterfinal bout with Coco Ho (HAW), Keely Andrew (AUS) posted the highest heat total of the event with a brilliant 18.16 -- scoring a 9.33 in the process. The Samsung Galaxy Women's Championship Tour (CT) rookie found a big result here last year that helped in her qualification hopes and is poised for another good finish at Punta Roca.
"I was fortunate enough to get a couple of really good waves that lined up for me at the point," Andrew said. "In man vs. man heats priority is so important, especially coming up against a girl like Dimity [Stoyle] who I've surfed against from a young age. I know she can get the score on any wave so I had to use my priority to keep her off that good inside one toward the end, and fortunately no bigger sets followed through."
"A lot of the CT girls are here for some backup points on the QS and each year the level just keeps lifting," Andrew added. "That next generation is here and it's so exciting to see women's surfing progressing and the direction it's going."
Three heats later, fellow Australian Bronte Macaulay (AUS) found her form once again and matched Andrew for the event's highest heat total -- earning a 9.33 and 8.83. Competing against an in-form Tatiana Weston-Webb (HAW), Macaulay took advantage of the sets coming in for her heat, and had to fend off a fellow goofy footer for the win. Macaulay took advantage of the sets coming in for her heat, and had to fend off a fellow goofy footer for the win. Currently ranked No. 2 on the Women's QS, this is an important event for Macaulay to solidify her position in the Top 6 for a chance at CT qualification.
"It was literally perfect in that heat with set after set and I knew I had to be on them coming up against Tatiana," Macaulay said. "She was surfing so well and I was pretty nervous coming up against her. There was so much opportunity and having a competition in conditions like this is just paradise -- it's what you dream about. I was riding a 5'7 ½ yesterday and went down an inch today to one of my favorite boards. I've taken it to Bells, Margaret's, and been riding it pretty much all year and when the waves are this fun it's pretty hard to go wrong."
Malia Manuel (HAW) has posted five excellent scores through three rounds at this event using her knowledge of Punta Roca to her ultimate advantage. Surfing in Round Four this morning and again in Round 5, the Hawaiian was patient and earned a excellent 17.93 heat total in the man vs. man heat. Strategy in place, Manuel will need to continue her high-performance surfing against the formidable Silvana Lima (BRA) for their Quarterfinal battle.
"It's nice to know I can keep the rhythm out there with the ocean and just so inspired knowing there's perfect waves coming in," Manuel said. "As you get into the later rounds you're only surfing against two other girls and then it's man vs. man so it's nice to have some elbow room. Having a game plan going into heats is so important, and also having a backup plan when it doesn't work, along with preparation before you even hit the water - it just helps build my confidence. I've surfed so many heats and learned from those mistakes knowing that there's waves, and then there's better waves."
Paige Hareb (NZL) has gotten a taste of the dream tour in 2012 and 2013, but hasn't been able to find the results in past years to get back there. Finishing at No. 12 the past two seasons, Hareb is looking for a breakout performance and found a glimpse of one today as she posted a 9.57. Equaling the event's highest single-scoring wave, Hareb needed it to overcome the talented Pauline Ado (FRA).
"It was such a slow start, if Pauline hadn't gotten her wave in it was getting close to a re-start," Hareb said. "I was getting a little desperate and ended up posting that seven, but knew I needed a good backup coming against her. She took off on the wave before me and figured she would smash it so finding the next one I just wanted to push really hard. I don't even know what happened, I knew it was a good one and it just kept running so I wanted to keep winding up."
"I think the goofy footers definitely have a little bit of an advantage out here and can really get into the pocket," Hareb added. "But, every day is a new day and all these girls can just rip out there so you have to be confident in your surfing."
Anali Gomez (PER) shocked the contest by eliminating defending champion Sage Erickson (USA) in a tight heat that saw the ocean go quiet. Gomez found a last-minute gem that Erickson wasn't in position for and the Peruvian put the hammer down to earn a victory. She was ecstatic coming out of the water and now finds herself into the Quarterfinals against the in-form goofy footer, Macaulay.
"I'm so happy the waves cooperated and I just want to keep charging through all the way to the final," Gomez said. "It was a slow start and I was happy to see Sage get a wave before the restart happened. That was a super close heat all the way to the end and with one-minute remaining, Sage had priority but didn't go. I took full advantage of that and just wanted to surf my best on the last wave to get the score. I'm so happy to be into the next round."
With the Quarterfinal draws determined, tomorrow marks the final day of competition and a new champion will be crowned. Tune in live tomorrow at www.worldsurfleague.com , or download the WSL App WSL App, for the 8:30am MDT Call that will determine a 9:00am MDT Start.