It was a day of extremes at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games in Playa Venao, Panama. After enduring torrential downpours and several contest holds due to lightning, the competitors got the green light to finish off the day in glassy two-to-three foot wave conditions.
With three days to go, the premiere world team surfing event is approaching its final stages. Forty-two surfers from 14 countries are still alive and fighting for the Individual and Team Gold.
After today's 17 heats, the team ratings are:
1- Australia - 19120 points
2- Brazil - 17200 points
3- Venezuela – 15700 points
4- France - 15640 points
5- Peru - 14520 points
The outlook is favorable for Australia, as they still have seven surfers remaining in the event--five of them in the Qualifying Rounds. However, as the crowd on the beach saw today, anything can happen over the next two days with these five countries.
The Main Event finalists were determined today. Twelve surfers, four in each division, are now one step away from medaling.
Dimity Stoyle (AUS), the 2003 ISA World Junior Surfing Champion, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), 2004 ISA and ASP World Champion Sofía Mulanovich (PER) and 2011 ISA World Junior Champion Canelle Bulard (FRA) made it through Round 4 and will now compete for a place on the podium, or another chance in the Repechage.
Stoyle proved to the strongest surfer of the round, posting a combined score of 13.46 (7.10+6.36) to beat Miley-Dyer, leaving Paige Hareb (NZL) in third.
"I'm really close to the final in my first ISA event. It would be awesome to win a medal," said the Australian. "This contest is very different from the others I do. This contest is singular, in that you are surfing on your own but you are also really thinking about your team, and you want to do well for your country."
The Open Men division saw Michael Campbell (AUS), Thomas Woods (AUS), Ian Gouveia (BRA) and Rafael Pereira (VEN) making it to the Winners Bracket final.
Campbell, last year's medalist and 1998 ISA World Champion, was the in-form surfer of the round. Posting a combined score of 14.36 (8.00+6.36), he finished ahead of Pereira, leaving Santiago Muñiz (ARG) in third.
"I was just cruising and got first place," said Campbell. "The Venezuelan surfer was ripping. He always rips and it's fun to compete against him. This event is a lot different because you compete as a team not as individuals. It is rare for us to compete as a team, so we are really enjoying it."
The Longboard division saw Piccolo Clemente (PER), Matthew Moir (RSA), Toni Silvagni (USA) and Harley Ingleby (AUS) making it into the Main Event final.
In the dying seconds of the Longboard Qualifying Round 4 Heat 1, one of the most exciting moments of the day took place. Two-time ISA World Champion Matthew Moir (RSA) needed a 6.56, and on his final wave of the heat, scored a 9.02 to flip things in his favor and sent 2010 ISA World Champion, Antoine Delpero (FRA) to the Repechage.
"I knew I had two minutes to catch the wave and luckily it came, and I got the highest wave score of the heat," said Moir. "The vuvuzelas brought me that wave. Afterwards, when I was waiting for the score on the beach, I was pretty nervous."
With four rounds of the Repechage in all divisions taking place today, the crowd on the beach went crazy with the emotional victories and losses.