Four Women Qualify for Paris Olympics on Pressure Filled Day 6 of the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games

February 29th, 2024

Nadia Erostarbe (ESP), Sol Aguirre (PER), Tainá Hinckel (BRA) and Yolanda Sequeira (POR) provisionally qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games

Ethan Ewing (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA), and Johanne Defay (FRA) top day’s Main Round performances

Further frontrunners for Olympic qualification emerge as scenarios come into clarity

Olympic Skateboarding bronze medalist Sky Brown (GBR) edges closer to qualification in Surfing

Arecibo, Puerto Rico – February 29, 2024
The sixth day of competition in the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games (WSG) saw a slight increase in swell and a large increase in intensity as the Olympic qualification fates of many hopefuls hung in the balance. Wind-affected, two-to-three foot surf once again allowed for plenty of opportunity on the twin peaks of El Pico and Rastrial.

By day’s end, four women had qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Progression into Main Round 5 was enough to guarantee that Nadia Erostarbe (ESP), Sol Aguirre (PER), Tainá Hinckel (BRA) and Yolanda Sequeira (POR) will be four of the eight women to qualify for Paris 2024 in Puerto Rico. Erostarbe is the first Spanish surfer to qualify for the Olympic Games.

Two full rounds of repechage were completed today, along with Main Round 4, leaving just 24 women and 30 men left in the competition. Within those numbers, 13 women and 10 men are now either provisionally qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games or from a nation with two surfers of their gender already qualified, leaving just 11 women and 20 men in the running for the available 4 and 6 Olympic slots remaining for each gender, respectively.

Spain has taken a definitive lead in the team championship, ahead of Brazil, France, Peru and Australia. In the individual gender team races, France, Brazil and Spain are tied in first place for the men, though France has a distinct advantage as the only nation to have all three surfers still in the Main Round. In the women’s, Spain, Peru, Brazil and Australia are all tied at the top.

Nadia Erostarbe, Team Spain / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Sol Aguirre (PER) earned an important heat win to advance with Tainá Hinckel (BRA) ahead of Lucia Machado (ESP) and Brisa Hennessy (CRC), the pair unaware that it would be enough to secure their qualification. For the second day in a row, the 20-year-old Peruvian maintained control in tricky conditions, maintaining composure when it matters the most.

“Every heat gets worse I think, the pressure keeps on giving,” Aguirre said. “But I just try to listen to music and try to control what I can control and just be myself and not compare with any competitor, because at the end you just compete with the time and both waves, to better them. Lots of pressure, but I just think about going for my dreams instead of being afraid of them.”

Yolanda Sequeira (POR) utilized priority at the end of an important heat to guarantee her return to the Olympic Games. Blocking current WSL World No. 1, Molly Picklum (AUS), from accessing a potential score, the Tokyo 2020 Olympian increased her own heat total to take a big heat win over three-time WSG gold medalist Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), and send Picklum to the repechage, along with Camilla Kemp (GER). Meanwhile, Nadia Erostarbe (ESP) held firm over Tokyo 2020 Olympians Leilani McGonagle (CRC) and Teresa Bonvalot (POR) to punch her ticket to Paris 2024.

The final heat of the day saw Johanne Defay (FRA) blitz the field, making easy work of the lefts of Rastrial to post the highest women’s heat total of the day, 14.94. The battle for second place was much hotter, with Siqi Yang (CHN) posting a 6.77 early in the heat and holding reigning WSL Champion Caroline Marks (USA) at bay. In the final minutes, Yang took a wave that she was unable to capitalize on, handing priority to Marks in the process. The American didn’t waste the opportunity, converting the wave into a 6.93 and sending the Chinese into repechage, along with Maya Mateja (MEX). While Yang still has a chance in repechage, that single decision with priority may end up costing her an Olympics berth.

2014 WSG silver medalist Anthony Fillingim (CRC) found victory in a heat filled with WSG royalty, including defending WSG gold medalist Alan Cleland Jr (MEX), two-time WSG gold medalist Leandro Usuna (ARG) and three-time medalist Lucca Mesinas (PER), who advanced alongside Fillingim into Repechage Round 5, eliminating Cleland Jr and Usuna. Unfortunately however, the Costa Rican lost out to 2015 U/18 ISA World Junior Champion Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) and 2022 WSG copper medalist Guilherme Fonseca (POR) in his next heat, while Mesinas carried on.

Many other top contenders fell out of the draw today, including Tokyo 2020 Olympians Miguel Tudela (PER), Mahina Maeda (JPN), Leon Glatzer (GER) and Tokyo 2020 alternate Carlos Muñoz (CRC). And it was heartbreak for Chelsea Tuach (BAR), Keoni Lasa (VEN), Tiara van der Huls (NED), Dwight Pastrana (PUR), Rachel Presti (GER), and Luana Silva (BRA) in their individual campaigns.

Alonso Correa, Team Peru / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Further frontrunners for Olympic qualification emerge as scenarios come into clarity

Alonso Correa (PER), Andy Criere (ESP), Kehu Butler (NZL), Cody Young (CAN), Joan Duru (FRA), Brian Toth (PUR), Marco Mignot (FRA) and Sebastian Williams (MEX) each find themselves as frontrunners for the available men’s Olympic slots. As the only eight eligible surfers left in the Main Round, it will be a much harder road for the remaining 12 eligible men in the repechage to get their names back in the mix. Williams is relishing his current position after joining Kauli Vaast (FRA) in sending current WSL World No. 2 Jack Robinson (AUS) to the repechage.

“I love surfing against the best,” Williams said. “It motivates me to surf as best as I can and it gives me the opportunity to showcase my talent. It’s very exciting (to be close to Olympic qualification). Steps away, one or two heats away. It gets more nerve-wracking as the heats go on, but I think I work very well under pressure, so I’m very excited. No matter who the opponent is, I’m always going to give it my best.”

Sky Brown, Team Great Britain / Photo: Sean Evans

Olympic Skateboarding bronze medalist Sky Brown edges closer to qualification in Surfing

Sky Brown (GBR) surfed a five minute heat to advance ahead of Janire Gonzalez-Extabarri (ESP) and eliminate two-time ISA World Junior Champion and Tokyo 2020 Olympian Mahina Maeda (JPN) and Paris 2024 qualified surfer Vahine Fierro (FRA) in Repechage Round 4. For the first 15-minutes of the 20-minute heat, Brown was unable to find any score of note. With just under five minutes on the clock, the Olympic bronze medalist in Park Skateboarding delivered a 7.17 and immediately backed it up with a 3.17, to jump from fourth into first. It was Brown’s first heat win of the event so far as she gains steam in her goal of qualifying for Paris 2024 in both Surfing and Skateboarding. Progression through a second repechage heat today sees the 15-year-old pushing closer to the qualification line.

“It was definitely a tough heat,” Brown said. “All the girls were ripping out there. The waves were really tough, but I’m super stoked. I got the last two waves at the end over there, but yeah, stoked I made it through.”

Ethan Ewing, Team Australia / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Ethan Ewing and Gabriel Medina deliver peak performances

The unparalleled technique of Ethan Ewing (AUS) saw the 2023 WSL World Title runner-up carve through a series of strong backhand turns to earn the equal highest single wave score of the event, a 9.17. A fall at the end was likely the only reason a perfect-10 wasn’t awarded for the incredible surfing on display.

Meanwhile, three-time WSL Champion and 2010 ISA U/18 World Junior Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) opened men’s Main Round 4 by putting on an absolute clinic of an airshow. A pair of high-8’s earned him the highest heat total of the event so far for the men, 16.94. From day one, Medina has been clear about his drive and he has stuck true to his plan.

“I’m on a mission,” Medina said. “I just want to win this event and whatever happens, it happens, but that’s my focus.”

Competition will resume tomorrow at 7:30am AST with men’s Repechage Round 6.

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