It was a "hurry up and wait" kind of day at the Martinique Surf Pro as the first call had everyone on their toes at 7:30 a.m. before the event start was finally pushed back to the afternoon.
The early morning sickness settled and by the time Round Five hit the lineup, conditions had cleaned up nicely to give way to an exciting afternoon of performance surfing. Here's a recap of what unfolded.
Quarterfinal No. 1
Bino Lopes took on Tanner Hendrickson in a clash of two very similar approaches on their forehand. Basse-Pointe unfortunately didn't deliver many sets and the 30-minute bout was a battle of average scores, ultimately going Lopes' way.
"It's great to be here in such a magical place and to make finals day," Bino said. "The beginning of our heat was a bit slow so I changed my strategy and started surfing everything I could to better my scores and apply pressure on Tanner, thankfully it worked out for me. I'm going to go and rest at home, talk with my family and my coach to be ready for tomorrow."
Quarterfinal No. 2
On paper, Marc Lacomare vs. Noe Mar McGonagle was one of the most exciting heats of the round, but unfortunately both surfers were once again limited with decent scoring opportunities. The softer walls clearly favoriting forehand carves over under-the-lip backhand attack, McGonagle was never really threatened by the Frenchman's performance.
"I tried to keep close to Marc once I got my two scores and I'm happy to move into finals day," he said. "I'm stoked, the waves have been super fun this whole event and I'm hoping I can seal the deal tomorrow. I have a little Costa Rica crew here helping me out, there's nothing like having your own people supporting you."
Quarterfinal No. 3
The all-Australian affair Soli Bailey vs. Jackson Baker turned out to be the most exciting battle of the day, as both surfers were presented with longer, more rippable waves and absolutely lit up the lineup through big carves and vertical snaps. Bailey, the most experienced of the two athletes, opted to surf a lot more waves than his opponent and the strategy paid off as he kept improving to rack up an impressive 16.37 out of a possible 20.
"I think Jackson was one of the best surfers by far in this event so I'm stoked to get through that heat," he said. "I've had a few years on the QS now and I really want to qualify. This year I'm hungry and surfing the best I have so I believe I deserve to be there and that's my head space at the moment."
Quarterfinal No. 4
Ricardo Christie eliminated the last remaining goofyfooter Rafael Teixeira as conditions continued to render the backhand approach extremely difficult. The former Championship Tour (CT) surfer put on a convincing effort and claimed the very last ticket for the semifinals.
"I always knew Rafael could easily get a bomb and score a 9, so the whole heat I was just challenging myself to do everything that I could," he said. "I didn't plan on doing the QS3,000s this year but I came here to try and get some rhythm and it looked like really good waves from last year. It was amazing to be on tour but I didn't do as well as I wanted so I'd like another opportunity."
Event officials and the last four remaining surfers in contention for the Martinique title will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. Friday for a potential early finish in Caribbean waters.
All results, more photos and daily highlights are available here