With the waves still pumping at four to six feet at Colorado Beach, the best scores were going to the most capable tube riders on Day 2 of the Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship.
Much like yesterday, the beach was crowded and the locals were vocal, providing extra confidence and momentum to the competitors out in the challenging - and occasionally punishing - conditions. The best over-35-year-old surfers didn't disappoint.
In his Masters Round 2 heat, Hawaii's Kaipo Jaquias put his power surfing and North Shore barrel-riding experience to use to win one of the most entertaining heats of the event, thus far. Jaquias, Jojo de Olivenca (BRA), Hiroki Watanabe (JPN) and Heriberto Ramirez (MEX) had several exchanges that had the group shifting positions on the leaderboard, before Jaquias and de Olivenca pulled away.
In his post-heat comments, Jaquias credited his teammates for providing some valuable advice, but mostly he went on instinct: "A lot [of having success in these heats] has to do with getting out there and feeling the ocean, seeing what it's doing, and adjusting as necessary."
Australia's Rod Baldwin had a slow start to his heat, but managed to find two gems to win his Grand Kahunas (over-50) heat with the highest two-wave score (16.5) of the event.
"It's good when you can find the right ones; when you do, the waves are great for fitting some good maneuvers," said Baldwin, who won a Gold Medal at the 2010 ISA World Masters in Panama. "It was a little bit tricky, a little tough in the first ten minutes or so, but towards the end I got a couple of really good ones, so I'm pretty happy."
Most competitors are arriving to the beach hours before their heat in order to measure the conditions and assess heat strategies. With such a wide contest area, picking the best spot to sit can make all the difference, especially with seven feet tidal swings.
"The sea was difficult today. The waves were a little heavy, but the rights are very good with good tubes; well-formed and strong," said Cardoso Junior (BRA), who won his Kahunas heat with a score of 12.0.
Jim Hogan (USA) put together an impressive display in his Kahunas heat, winning with a two-wave score of 12.33.
The event is still in its early developments, so there are no true front-runners for the perpetual Eduardo Arena Trophy, which goes to the Gold Medal-winning team. Early heats are crucial for developing a rhythm with what's happening in the water and to establish confidence that can carry a surfer through the event.
The women made their initial appearance in the contest lineup, with the first Qualifying Round happening mid-day.
"I was a little stressed because all of my teammates are doing so well; I wanted to win for them and, fortunately, I did," said Alisa Cairns (USA), a three-time ISA medalist who won her heat with a 12.94. "It's my first time in Nicaragua, and I'm loving it. Before I came I watched videos of the wave to get a sense for what to expect, so that's been helpful."
While the ISA World Masters is meant to determine the best surfers across five divisions, there is a different sense of camaraderie than other elite-level events, and a slightly different sense of competitiveness comes with this Olympic-style world championship. Rochelle Ballard (HAW) has competed and excelled at the highest level of competition in the sport of surfing, so she knows what it takes to win. She also knows that at this stage of her career, creating positive memories can be just as important as heat results.
"It's nice competing against a well-rounded, diverse group," said Ballard, who last competed and won an ISA medal as a teenager at the 1988 World Surfing Games in Puerto Rico. "There was a point when the girl from Panama (Sonia 'Pucha' Garcia) wanted a wave, and she was looking at me, and I just said 'Go,' and gave her the wave. I think it's a little bit different sometimes from an ASP World Tour event; there's a different sort of camaraderie between the countries in an ISA event. I knew I was getting through and she just wanted a good wave, so it felt good to do that. It's good to express that Aloha that we share."
Ballard won her heat with a two-wave score of 14.5.
Action resumes tomorrow, July 17, with Repechage heats in the Grand Masters division.
The event webcast will be live beginning at 7:35am local time (6:35am PST; 9:35am EST; 2:35pm in Paris; and 11:35pm in Sydney) with The Morning Show at www.isawmsc.com/live.
Men's Kahunas Qualifying Round 1 Results
Heat 1: Cardoso Junior (BRA), 12.0; Masahisa Sakamoto (JPN), 7.97; Luis Radziunas (ARG), 7.13; Alfredo Flores (VEN), 5.26
Heat 2: Carlos Goncalves (ECU), 4.97; Javier Gorbea (PUR), 4.4; Gonzalo Lizano (CRI), 2.8; Robert Reid (DOM), 2.64
Heat 3: Scott Weinrich (AUS), 7.93; Kennethy Myers (PAN), 6.0; Nelson Sadoy (HAW), 4.57; Aurello Prieto (ECU), 2.64
Heat 4: James Hogan (USA), 12.33; Yoshihiro Nakamura (JPN), 8.33; Magoo de la Rosa (PER), 5.97; Eric Graciet (FRA), 5.53
Heat 5: Cesar Aspillaga (PER), 9.34; Ricky Schaffer (USA), 7.54; Bruno Laharague (FRA), 3.5; Pascal Luciani (TAH), 3.23
Heat 6: Mike Latronic (HAW), 12.5; John Schmidenberg (AUS), 11.66; Prospero Ochoa (MEX),4.63
Heat 7: Werner Vega (PUR), 7.73; Craig Schieber (CRI), 7.7; Jaime Garcia (GUA), 3.93; Roberto Torres (SAL), 0.0
Heat 8: Gabriel Macedo (BRA), 8.66; Horacio Ipucha (ARG), 6.87; Eduardo Rojas (VEN), 6.7; Carlos Corado (GUA), 2.6
Men's Grand Kahunas Qualifying Round 1 Results
Heat 1: Allen Sarlo (USA), 13.00; Aurelio Prieto (ECU), 3.10; Osbaldo Chavez (MEX), 2.13
Heat 2: Rod Baldwin (AUS), 16.50; Javier Huarcaya (PER), 5.33; Jaime Garcia (GUA), 2.23
Heat 3: Craig Schieber (CRI), 10.50; Keiichi Mitsuhashi (JPN), 3.83; Ernesto Conte (ARG), 2.46; Terrence Muschett (JAM), 2.37
Heat 4: Glen Pang (HAW), 9.54; Gilles Asenjo (FRA), 7.50; Mike Young (IRE), 3.67; Carlos Deshon (NIC) 0.00
Heat 5: Oalto Castro (BRA), 8.50; Kenneth Myers (PAN), 5.23; Alfonso Álvarez (SAL), 3.10
Heat 6: Javier Gorbea (PUR), 9.50; Robert Reid (DOM), 6.84; Jose Luis Rodriguez (VEN), 2.47
Women's Masters Qualifying Round 1 Results
Heat 1: Alissa Cairns (USA), 12.94; Lucila Gil (ARG), 9.90
Heat 2: Andrea Diaz (CRI), 10.84; Akiko Kiyonaga (JPN), 7.03; Rocio Larranaga (PER), 3.33; Rebecca Taylor (PUR), 1.53
Heat 3: Rochelle Ballard (HAW), 14.50; Sandra English (AUS), 8.13; Sonia Garcia (PAN), 6.03; Jennifer Vara (VEN), 3.17
Men's Masters Qualifying Round 2 Results
Heat 1: Andres Fernandez (ECU), 11.77; Alejo Martinez (ARG), 11.16; Ronald Reyes (VEN), 8.56; Robbie Page (AUS), 7.40
Heat 2: Carlos Cabrero (PUR), 15.50; Rick Takahashi (USA),10.27; Reinaldo Ibarra (CHI), 5.63; Christian Jimenez (CRI), 4.43
Heat 3: Magnum Martinez (VEN), 12.50; Shea Lopez (USA), 10.50; Cesar Aspillaga (PER), 7.53; Gustavo Castillo (CRI), 5.13
Heat 4: Martin Passeri (ARG), 10.84; Dean Hall (AUS), 7.53; Norberto Pena (PUR), 5.17; Marcelo Matos (URU), 4.83
Heat 5: Armando Daltro (BRA), 12.50; Sunny Garcia (HAW), 12.10; Patrick Castagnet (GER), 9.60; Yoshio Ishida (JPN), 5.74
Heat 6: Kaipo Jaquias (HAW), 13.27; Jojo de Olivenca (BRA), 12.24; Hiroki Watanabe (JPN), 9.67; Heriberto Ramirez (MEX), 7.13
Men's Grand Masters Repechage 1 Results
Heat 1: Azumi Hara (JPN), 2.4; Carlos Corado (GUA), 2.16
Heat 2: Ricardo Chiari (PAN), 2.14
Heat 3: Adrian Valenzuela (MEX), 7.17; Jose Ureña (CRI), 4.77; Jose Medina (PUR), 3.47
Heat 4: Santiago di Pace (ARG), 6.75; Luiggi de Marzo (PER), 4.73
Heat 5: Pedro Pablo Vergara (GUA), 1.63; Daniel Paez (SWI), 1.4
Heat 6: Rodrigo Dominguez (SAL), 1.73; Lorenzo Parmegiani (ITA), 1.6
The Nicaragua ISA World Masters Surfing Championship is made possible with the backing of the following sponsors: Nicaragua Tourism Institute, Gray Line, AmericanAirlines, Canal 13, Amnet, Hacienda Iguana, Taca, VOS TV, Municipalidad de Tola, Flor de Caña, INISER; the following cosponsors: Movistar, Dollar, Alamo, Comité Olimpico Nicaragüense, Hilton, Nuevo Diario, Guacalito, Condor, Servipro, Aqua Spa, CDNN canal 23, Nicasurfing; and the following supporters: Surfari Charters, Corona, Paso Pacifico, Renisa, Parmalat, Credomatic, Cruz Roja, Pantaleon, Canatur. The media partners are Pasión Xtrema, SurfersVillage and Surfos. The Official Forecaster for the event is Surfline.