Big board performances became a key factor in their nations standing as the Longboard division opened today at the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games fueled by Monster Energy.
Under cloudy skies, sometimes pouring rain and choppy, shifting beachbreak, the big favorites along with a few small determined dark horses advanced to the next round in the most difficult conditions yet.
Underdogs like New Zealand and Venezuela who already have surfers qualified through to the next round, kept them competitive with advancing longboarders. Venezuela’s team gathered as a group every time they had a heat in the water, chanting, cheering and waving their flags like men possessed.
"The enthusiasm from the Venezuelan team is so motivating," said Ronald Reyes. "The support from my coach and my country makes a big difference."
Big surf powerhouses Hawaii, Australia, France and the USA all placed Longboard team members into the next round, making up for costly losses inflicted yesterday. Both Hawaiians Kekoa Uemura and Bonga Perkins advanced to the next round after Hawaii lost two of its stars in Tuesday’s final eliminations elevating them into 3rd place with 16,960 points. The Americans and Australians also advanced both their longboarders, and are in a first place deadlock with 19,080 points each. France was helped hugely by early wins from both their Longboard teammates, but South Africa and Costa Rica were hurt when their men did not make the cut. Brazil and Costa Rica are neck and neck with 15,890 and 15,640 respective points.
Unexpected wins from complete dark horses were still a frequent result in the repercharge heats. The Great Britain got both their men through, and surprise chargers like Tahiti and Argentina are also qualified. Bombshell surprise Mexico blasted through two repercharges and still fighting to make the next round. "The deciding factor for me was doing some really big floaters" said Tzabui Poo, from Mexico. "Earlier I was falling when I tried them, but in this heat I went big and landed them!"
The biggest upset of the day was Dieter Gerards from Cologne, Germany, who made it through round 1 and 2 of the main event.
"I’m really amazed that I was able to beat to Brazil and Tahiti," said a still stunned Gerards. "Ten minutes went by without a wave late in the heat – but I stayed calm, waiting for the waves and watching the other surfers very carefully. When a good wave finally came my way I just tried to do put it all together," said Gerards.
Despite the fact that 15 countries are already out of the running and another 10 have very slim chances, enthusiasm is running wild for individuals still advancing in the contest.
"When I came out of the water my teammates said to me that it had won and couldn’t believe it," said a super-stoked Gerards. "I can’t believe it! It is really total madness! Now I am going to call my family and friends in Germany, to tell them what happened!"
The contest will be web LIVE everyday at www.BillabongISAWorldGames.com