Big Names Take on Big Power in Pumping Surf on Day 1 of the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games

February 24th, 2024

Firing waves provide ideal platform for the world’s best surfers

Daniella Rosas (PER) joins Carissa Moore (USA) and Molly Picklum (AUS) in setting the pace

Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo and Yago Dora deliver strong start for Brazilian men’s team

Arecibo, Puerto Rico – February 24, 2024

Puerto Rico turned it on for day one of competition in the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). A stunning sunrise lit up the multiple lineups of Arecibo, highlighting the beautiful four-to-six foot peaks hitting both Margara, where men’s Men’s Main Round 1 kicked off, and El Pico, where women’s Main Round 1 began.

A stacked field of the world’s best surfers saw former WSG medalists, Olympians and World Champions, matched with underdog heroes and national champions of emerging surfing nations.

Current WSL World No. 1, Molly Picklum (AUS), arrived straight off the plane from Hawaii and into the waters of Puerto Rico, where she found the highest single wave score of the day, an 8.67. Continuing on from her groundbreaking performances on the North Shore, Picklum drove into the strongest turn of the day, absolutely decimating the lip of an El Pico left on her backhand.

Molly Picklum, Team Australia / Photo: Pablo Jimenez

Early wins see all Women’s Tokyo 2020 Olympians in the draw progress in the Main Round

Tokyo 2020 Olympian Anat Lelior (ISR) opened her campaign for Paris 2024 qualification with a series of searing turns that earned her an 8.00. Fellow Olympians Dominic Barona (ECU), Yolanda Hopkins (POR), Leilani McGonagle (CRC), Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN), Teresa Bonvalot (POR), Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Carissa Moore (USA), Brisa Hennessy (CRC), Caroline Marks (USA), Mahina Maeda (JPN), Johanne Defay (FRA), and Daniella Rosas (PER) also put on great performances to progress in the Main Round.

Rosas set the pace in the very first heat of the morning, earning an 8.17 and 7.17, for a 15.34 heat total, one of the highest of the day. At this point of the first Olympic Surfing cycle, the 22-year-old had managed to double-qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. This time around the qualification pressure for the Peruvian now rests entirely on this event.

“It’s incredible to come here to Puerto Rico and be able to start that way,” Rosas said. “It was awesome to come straight from a QS win in Peru and into such good conditions this morning. Winning the first heat, I’m super happy, super happy. The truth is that I’m super nervous (about qualification). There are a lot of good competitors here. I know that Peru is a super strong country and I know that we compete at a high level. So I don’t want to think too much about that, just taking it heat-by-heat, day-by-day. Now to be calm and show good surfing.”

Kauli Vaast, Team France / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Big performances from former winners and newcomers alike

Barrels were the order of the morning for the men in the powerful reef of Margara. French teammates Joan Duru (FRA), the 2021 WSG gold medalist, and Paris 2024 qualified surfer Kauli Vaast (FRA), both found backhand barrels, backed by critical turns, to earn high 7-point rides.

Jack Robinson (AUS), the current WSL World No. 2, posted one of the day’s highest numbers as he appeared in his first ISA event. Meanwhile, former WSG gold medalists Leandro Usuna (ARG), Alan Cleland Jr (MEX), Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Jordy Smith (RSA) and Santiago Muniz (ARG), who are no strangers to ISA events, also moved forward in the Main Round, though fellow WSG gold medalist Jhony Corzo (MEX) was knocked into the repechage rounds after a surprise buzzer beater from Maksymilian Michalewski (POL).

Gabriel Medina, Team Brazil / Photo: Pablo Franco

Gabriel Medina, Filipe Toledo and Yago Dora deliver strong start for Brazilian men’s team

Three-time WSL Champion and 2010 ISA U/18 World Junior Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) enters the competition with potentially the most pressure on his shoulders. As the highest profile surfer in the event to not currently be qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, Medina needs his men’s Brazilian team, featuring two-time WSL Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA) and WSL Championship Tour stalwart Yago Dora (BRA), to rank as the highest eligible team, in order to earn a ticket to Teahupo’o. On top of that, he also needs to personally place higher than Dora, who posted the highest men’s heat total of the day, 14.67.

“We know that we can do good in this event,” Medina said. “The waves are great and we have great athletes, Filipe, Yago, and myself. I’m focused on my mission. I’ve got to make heats and I’m going to try to do my best. We push each other, which is great, and the best wins. That’s how competition goes and I think everyone that’s part of it is ready for anything.

“It’s amazing to be here in Puerto Rico, it’s my first time here and I’m loving it. Such a beautiful place with lots of beautiful people. ISA has been in my life a lot. I think everyone that is on Tour nowadays, most of them, they’ve been through the ISA. So it feels good to be here in Puerto Rico fighting for a spot in the Olympics.”

Competition will begin tomorrow at 7:00am AST with the continuation of Men’s Main Round 1 at Margara and Women’s Main Round 1 at El Pico.

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