As Olympic Qualification Nears, Stacked Heats Define Day 5 of the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games

February 28th, 2024

Tainá Hinckel (BRA) and Caroline Marks (CRC) set high marks for the women, Morgan Cibilic (AUS) and Kai Odriozola (ESP) for the men

John John Florence (USA) and Brian Toth (PUR) advance together through super-heat

2021 WSG gold medalist Joan Duru (FRA) wins battle of the goofy-foots

Arecibo, Puerto Rico – February 28, 2024

The action continued today at the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) in fun, two-to-three foot surf for day five of the competition that serves as the final qualifier for surfing in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Main Round 3 and Repechage Round 3 were completed in both men’s and women’s divisions.

Throughout a wild day of ups and downs for many Olympic hopefuls, six teams managed to keep each of their six surfers in the draw. Peru, France, Brazil, Australia, Spain and Germany now sit in equal first place on the teams rankings, giving those nations the current advantage in regard to the all-important Olympic slots available for the separate men’s and women’s highest-ranking eligible teams when competition closes.

Caroline Marks, Team USA / Photo: Pablo Jimenez

Though many hopes and dreams were furthered today, many were also dashed. All three Argentinian teammates, Lucia Indurain, Ornela Pellizzari, and Vera Jarisz, along with Paige Hareb (NZL) and Erin Brooks (CAN), were among many women who saw their chance at Paris 2024 qualification slip away. On the men’s side, Ketut Agus (INA) was eliminated early, as were former WSG gold medalists Santiago Muniz (ARG) and Jhony Corzo (MEX).

Corzo’s teammate Sebastian Williams (MEX) found a buzzer-beater to progress into Main Round 4 along with Gabriel Medina (BRA), who once again earned the highest heat total of the Round. Meanwhile in the repechage, Kai Odriozola (ESP) dropped big numbers for the second day in a row. Those were then topped by Morgan Cibilic (AUS), who delivered the highest heat total of the men’s division so far in the final heat of the day, 16.16.

In a heat that featured not one, but two World Champions, reigning World Champion Caroline Marks (USA) and five-time World Champion Carissa Moore (USA), Peru’s Sol Aguirre opened with an excellent 8.00 ride and held the lead for much of the heat. A late charge from Marks saw her take the lead and the day’s highest heat total for the women, but Aguirre held strong to send Moore to the repechage.

Brian Toth, Team Puerto Rico / Photo: Pablo Franco

John John Florence (USA) and Brian Toth (PUR) advance together through super-heat

John John Florence (USA) came out on top in a heavy heat that featured fellow two-time WSL Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA), Tokyo 2020 Olympian Manuel Selman (CHI), and local legend Brian Toth (PUR). Picking up a 6.17 right at the start of the heat, Toth’s early advantage carried him through, despite attempts from Selman and Toledo to take the advancing position. A 7.17 backhand air reverse from Florence was the high mark of the match-up and was enough to seal the heat win, but that did nothing to diminish the local support for Toth, who will carry on in the Main Round, edging close to Olympic qualification conversations.

“It’s so cool to see that local support,” Florence said. “When we travel around the world and you go to these places where everyone just has that energy behind their surfers, it’s really fun to be a part of that and see that. It’s exciting for surfing, to see that energy behind them. It’s hard to surf against that because you’re like, ‘Did he get a 10? What happened?’ It’s really fun and it’s really cool. I just like surfing with Tothy (Brian Toth). He’s such a legend and so that was super fun to be able to surf a heat with him.”

Tainá Hinckel, Team Brazil / Photo: Naslo Bustamante

On a team of full of CT surfers, Tainá Hinckel (BRA) stands out

The sole surfer on her team to not currently be on the WSL Championship Tour, Tainá Hinckel (BRA), has had a dream run through the event, earning convincing wins in each of her heats surfed so far. Today, the 20-year-old Brazilian National Champion more than doubled the heat total of the other three surfers she came up against and is showing no signs of slowing down as she draws very close to potential Olympic qualification.

“It was so good to start the heat with a 6.67,” Hinckel said. “It was very good. I feel so happy to be here with Team Brazil in Puerto Rico. I’m super happy to be in the next round, let’s do my best. It’s very good and important for me to be here with this big team. They are the best surfers in the world, so to be here with them is very good for me. I’m so happy with my heat and I just want to surf, do my best and let’s go Team Brazil.”

Joan Duru, Team France / Photo: Pablo Franco

2021 WSG gold medalist Joan Duru wins battle of the goofy-foots

A stacked, all-goofyfoot match opened the day on the long lefts of Rastrial. Two French teammates, Joan Duru and Kauli Vaast, came up against two Tokyo 2020 Olympians in Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) and Leon Glatzer (GER). A tight battle ensued from the six-minute countdown, when Boukhiam posted a 5.83 to take the lead. Three minutes down, Duru, the 2021 WSG gold medalist and former WSL Championship Tour stalwart, earned a second 5.93 to take first position, before posting a 6.60 and sealing the deal. Meanwhile, Vaast, the only Paris 2024 qualified surfer in the heat, found a last-minute 6.50 to jump from fourth into second, and send Boukhiam and Glatzer into repechage.

“It was really hard, they’re like the three best surfers of the contest,” Duru said. “It was one of the hardest heats of the day for sure. They are really good friends and they’re ripping on these waves, so it was a really hard heat. I just went on my strategy, it didn’t change and it paid off at the end. I gave everything to be here and now I’m going to give everything to try to qualify.”

Competition will resume at 7:30am AST with women’s Repechage Round 4 at Rastrial and men’s Repechage Round 4 at El Pico.

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