Surprises, Upsets and Action on Day Two at 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games

June 1st, 2023

Gabriel Medina (BRA) delivers highest heat total for second day in a row, Francisa Veselko (POR) posts highest Women’s total

Impressive performance from China’s Siqi Yang showcases her steep trajectory

Local hero Bryan Perez (ESA) sends world number two João Chianca (BRA) to repechage

Surf City El Salvador – June 1, 2023

A second day of fun-sized conditions provided ample opportunity for exciting performances in the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). Men’s Main Round 1 was completed at La Bocana, as was Women’s Main Round 1 at El Sunzal. Twelve heats of Men’s Main Round 2 were also held at El Sunzal.

Tokyo 2020 Olympian Johanne Defay (FRA) posted high numbers as she opened the Women’s division for the day. Nadia Erostarbe (ESP) and Ellie Harrison (AUS) followed, both putting together great heats, while Peru’s Sol Aguirre found the single highest wave score of the day, an 8.50, for a long ride with multiple strong connections.

2022 WSL World Junior Champion Francisca Veselko (POR) collected the highest heat total of the day for the Women’s division. With one teammate, Teresa Bonvalot, already provisionally qualified for the Olympics, Velselko is competing alongside her other teammate, Tokyo 2020 Olympian Yolanda Hopkins, for a chance to participate in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

“It’s a dream of mine to be part of the 2024 Olympics in Teahupo’o. I’m here to try and get my spot and I’m really excited,” Veselko said. “I had a great time (in the heat), the water’s warm, waves are pumping and I love going right, so I couldn’t be happier.”

One of the standout performances of the day came from China’s Siqi Yang. Having competed in her first WSG in Huntington Beach in September 2022, the improvement of Yang’s surfing in just 8 months is impressive. While she was able to collect a single 6.00 ride in Huntington Beach, Yang easily won her Main Round 1 heat today with a pair of 6’s, looking like she still has plenty more to give.

Siqi Yang, Team China. Photo: Jersson Barboza

The strong backhand of Alan Cleland Jr saw the Mexican post the highest score of the event so far, an 8.93, for a seamless combination of three vertical hits. Ethan Ewing (AUS) and Lucca Mesinas (PER) also cracked the excellent range (8.00-10.00) in their Men’s Main Round 1 heats at La Bocana with powerful rail surfing, while Keoni Lasa (VEN) notched an 8.50 in his Main Round 2 heat at El Sunzal.

Also surfing at El Sunzal in Main Round 2, Gabriel Medina (BRA) once again claimed the highest heat total of the day (15.27), even taking to the air on the often-overlooked left of the break that is traditionally a right point.

In a stacked Main Round 2 heat, Jesse Mendes (ITA) and Dylan Groen (GER) managed to send two-time WSL Champion John John Florence (USA) to the repechage, along with 2013 ISA Silver Medalist Jean Carlos Gonzalez (PAN).

Main Round 1, Heat 40 saw local Salvadoran hero Bryan Perez put the pressure on João Chianca (BRA) early and not let up, sending the current world number two to the repechage.

“I think it was the best heat I’ve had this year,” Perez said. “I talked with my coach Marcelo (Castellanos) and we talked about how the waves are super slow and to focus on the best waves to get the score. So I was focused on the plan, I did my best and it feels good.

“It’s always special to have the ISA in El Salvador. The vibes are so fun, the people are so nice here, the waves are firing, the food is good. I think all the people love to be here. It’s a paradise for every surfer who comes here.”

Kanoa Palmiano & Griffin Colapinto. Photo: Pablo Franco

One of the unique aspects of the WSG is the large cross-section of surfers who are able to mingle with each other. Kanoa Palmiano was one of two surfers representing South Korea to surf with current world number one Griffin Colapinto (USA). The 15-year-old was thrilled to compete against one of his heroes in his first WSG event.

“It means so much to me to surf with Griffin because I watch him on YouTube and the internet and it’s so cool to actually surf with him in a heat. It was fun because he’s so good that I didn’t have much pressure competing, I just tried my best to surf.”

Wheeler Hasburgh (CAN) found himself surfing against, and progressing ahead of, his inspiration for the event in his first heat.

“Literally before the event I was watching videos of Matt McGillivray (RSA) surfing, hyping myself, getting ready,” Hasburgh said. “To have him in my heat, I was like, ok here we go, this is my moment. I sat pretty close to him because I wanted to be in that environment and sit next to one of the best and just absorb as much as I can.”

Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00am CST with Women’s Main Round 2 at La Bocana and the continuation of Men’s Main Round 2 at El Sunzal.

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