Another beautiful day greeted surfers and fans alike on Friday for Day 2 of the 2017 WSL Men's QS 3,000 Hang Loose São Sebastião Pro. Despite a declining swell, favorable winds and a packed audience on the beach gave the CT-laden top seeds plenty of incentive to put on a show at Praia de Maresias on the coast of São Paulo, Brazil.
The "Medina Effect" had fans lining the barricades in anticipation as their hometown hero, Gabriel Medina (BRA), took to the water for the first time of the event in Heat 8 of Round 3. The 2014 World Champion did not disappoint as he earned a 7.60 and a 9.80 for a 17.40 total by executing a full array of high-octane surfing.
Growing up surfing the assortment of conditions that Maresias provides, Medina gained plenty of experience there prior to traveling the world on the Championship Tour.
"I love to surf in Maresias and I think beach breaks give you a lot of preparation because you have to paddle a lot and make quick decisions to catch waves," said Medina. "Sometimes it gets really big here, so Maresias has always been a good training ground. That's why I feel comfortable surfing anywhere in the world."
Following Medina's maiden Brazilian victory in 2014, Adriano de Souza (BRA) repeated the feat in 2015. All of the Championship Tour surfers in Maresias are here to show their support for Brazilian surfing and feel their presence at the QS 3,000 is more a sign of solidarity than a hunt for points or prize money.
"It feels great to be here, but it's unfortunate because this event could easily have been a QS 10,000. But since the Brazilian economy and political situation have been going through some hard times, we all felt like it was important to be here to show our support," expressed De Souza. "Last time I competed in Brazil was during the CT event in Saquarema, but my vibe here is a lot more relaxed. It's tough to compare QS and CT events. On the CT, there are a lot more consequences like winning another title, so being here has been a lot of fun."
However, flying under the radar have been four Qualifying Series surfers looking to make their own headlines at Maresias. Michael Rodrigues (BRA) currently sits in 8th place on the QS rankings and wants to land in Hawaii in a more comfortable position. Deivid Silva (BRA) has been explosive and wants to exchange low event scores to move up from his position at 29th. Despite being farther back at 42nd, Thiago Camarão (BRA) currently leads the WSL South America Rankings and could clinch the Regional Title at the Hang Loose São Sebastião Pro. That would guarantee his entry into all QS 10,000 and QS 6,000 events in 2018. And finally, Kei Kobayashi (USA), all the way back in 172nd has looked in complete sync with the waves at Maresias.
"You know I haven't really thought about winning the event, even though it's always in the back of your mind going into a contest," said Kobayashi. "I've surfed against a lot of really good surfers in this event and I feel like my surfing has been on par and it's given me more confidence to move forward. You know, I'd rather go up against some big names like a CT guy because I'd actually feel less pressure. I'd really like to surf against Medina or Adriano who are guys I look up to every day. I watch all their heats and take notes, so it'd be an honor."
A total of 24 heats were run on Thursday and an incredible 28 heats were carried out on Friday. After quality waves were on hand for the first two days of the Hang Loose São Sebastião Pro, the forecast doesn't look that great and the event could possibly finish on Saturday.
First in the water tomorrow will be an all-Brazilian matchup with Wiggolly Dantas going up against Thiago Camarão, Mateus Herdy and Jean Da Silva. A call is set for 7:30 am local time.