It was an all-women's day at the Boardmasters, Cornwall on Day 3 of the event's waiting period, with both QS and longboard athletes taking on the wind-affected, one-to-two foot surf at North Fistral.
Shortboarders first took action to complete the third round of competition. The event's Quarterfinalists were determined; they'll battle for the 2016 Boardmasters title when competition resumes tomorrow.
Claire Bevilacqua continued to progress through the rounds with ease, displaying her powerful and stylish brand of surfing. She'll be the number one threat on finals day Saturday.
Barbadian up-and-comer Chelsea Roett was another standout in today's QS action, winning her Round 3 bout ahead of European form surfer Ariane Ochoa. Advancing through to the quarters, Roett has insured she will at least equal her best result so far this season, an excellent fifth place at the Shoe City Pro.
"I needed one more result to finish my QS campaign so I'm hoping to do well here, everybody's surfing really good here and the waves are challenging so I'll try my best and hopefully be a little lucky to get through a couple more heats," she said. "I love how beautiful Newquay is, I've passed through on my way to France and Portugal before but this is my first time surfing in England and I'm enjoying it. I'll try to see a few different places when the contest is finished as well."
Women longboarders then finally came into play at Fistral for the opening two rounds of competition, deciding the final eight surfers in contention for the prestigious Boardmasters title.
Reigning Women's World Champion Rachael Tilly launched her assault in the British waters and performed her signature graceful nose rides in the fading swell. Tilly picked up the right waves and belted the day's highest single score, an excellent 8.17 out of a possible 10. The Californian, who already won an event win in Europe a few weeks ago at the Pro A Coruña, will look to confirm her supremacy when finals day arrives Sunday.
"It was pretty fun if you're able to pick the right waves, unfortunately a lot of them were dying quickly as we're approaching the high tide," she analyzed. "I always feel the pressure to perform, I want to do well and hopefully give everyone else a good show as well. I love it here, exactly how I imagined England would be with all the greenery, the cliffs, and I've been having a really great time."
Californian compatriot and former World Champion herself Lindsay Steinriede also powered her way through to the Quarters, in a similar fashion and with high scores in her earlier round. Steinriede, along with Tilly, will look to play spoiler to the European title race as she will be facing one of the two surfers in contention on finals day.
"It's my first time in England and I find it really beautiful, I knew the waves would be somewhat challenging but I'm still having a great time," she said. "It was great to get the two rounds out of the way and back-to-back so we could stay focused, warm and active."
European rankings leader Victoria Vergara survived a tricky opening round matchup in the dying swell and kept her hopes of a first-ever regional title alive. Pressure's on for the Reunion Island native who will need to advance into the Semis and finish at least one round ahead of her direct opponent, reigning European Champion Alice Lemoigne.
"I'm really happy to have escaped that round, this event is extremely important for me as I'm currently in the lead and I'm super motivated to try to win the European title so there's no room for error." she commented. "The first-round stress is out of the way and we're expecting good conditions for the finals Sunday so I'm really looking forward to it."
Today also marks the official launch of the main music festival at Watergate Bay, which will bring together thousands of music and party enthusiasts for three days of live acts at the pristine set-up overlooking the ocean. More information on the full festival lineup at boardmasters.co.uk.
Organizers will welcome men and women QS competitors at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for what could be their final day of competition, while longboarders will have a day to rest before the big finals on Sunday.