Top Seeds Begin to Fall as Standouts Emerge on Day 4 of the 2024 ISA World Surfing Games

February 27th, 2024

Olympic medalists Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) stay alive in repechage

Pure excellence from Sanoa Olin (CAN), while Rachel Presti (GER) continues to flare

Juniors Kai Odriozola (ESP) and Oliver Zietz (NED) step up the level

Jamaica’s Elishama Beckford stands firm against heralded competitors

Arecibo, Puerto Rico – February 27, 2024

Peaky, clean, two-to-three foot surf greeted competitors for day four of the ISA World Surfing Games (WSG). The twin breaks of El Pico and Rastrial delivered fun conditions for the women and men to complete Repechage Round 2, respectively, on the two different podiums, right next to each other.

22 teams entered the day with a full six surfers, three men and three women, in the draw. By day’s end, only nine remained. Most notably the host nation of Puerto Rico lost its first surfers, as did top seeded nations like USA, Portugal, South Africa, Italy and Argentina.

A fired up Santiago Muniz (ARG) took the win in a tight heat that saw the first surfer from Portugal eliminated in Guilherme Ribeiro. South Africa’s Joshe Faulkner (RSA) battled to the top in a match that had barely a point separating fourth from first, eliminating Muniz’s teammate Jose Gundesen (ARG), also the first from his nation to be knocked out. Meanwhile, Venezuelan teammates Jose Lopez, Keoni Lasa and Rafael Pereira had strong showings to continue on. With Valeria Ojeda also progressing, Venezuela has kept their full team of four intact.

Sanoa Olin, Team Canada / Photo: Sean Evans

Two of the three Olympic medalists in the draw, silver medalist Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) and bronze medalist Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN), found themselves in Repechage Round 2. While Igarashi has already secured his Paris 2024 Olympic Games qualification, Tsuzuki has not, and each heat from here forward is of utmost importance for the 22-year-old to earn the chance to defend her medal. Tsuzuki kept her hopes alive today, though Paris 2024 qualified surfer Sanoa Olin (CAN) put on a masterclass to advance ahead of her.

The silver medalist from the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games, Olin showcased a dominant performance, utilizing the opening sections of the lefts of El Pico to drive through searing open-face carves. An early 8.33 gave way to the highest single wave score of the event so far, a 9.17, before a huge hit on a closeout section in the final seconds earned an 8.53 to deliver a significant final statement. Her excellent 17.70 heat total is now far and away the high mark of the event.

“The waves were really fun this morning,” Olin said. “I was definitely super happy to find the waves that I did and kind of just get in the rhythm. Those are the heats that are so fun, where you’re able to kind of just freesurf. It really felt good to put a good heat together, especially after a frustrating heat at Margara the other day. I feel personally pretty even on my frontside and my backside, but I love my forehand. I’m a goofyfoot and I love going left, so I was definitely excited to be at this wave today.”

Olin’s teammate Erin Brooks (CAN) also claimed a solid heat total as she begins her journey through the repechage in hopes of joining Olin in Tahiti for Paris 2024. Fellow hopefuls, Chelsea Roett (BAR), Paige Hareb (NZL) and Lucía Indurain (ARG) each earned convincing wins, as did Paris 2024 qualified surfer Saffi Vette (NZL).

Rachel Presti, Team Germany / Photo: Pablo Jiminez

Split half-and-half in the Main Round and Repechage, Germany continue strong

Though Germany doesn’t currently have any surfers qualified for Paris 2024, they have many strong contenders in the draw. Half of their team still feature in the Main Round, Camilla Kemp, Tim Elter and Tokyo 2020 Olympian Leon Glatzer, while Noah Klapp, Dylan Groen, and Rachel Presti are each progressing in the repechage. Presti posted one of the highest heat totals of the event today, collecting two high 7-point rides to keep confidence as she moves forward.

“My last heats felt good,” Presti said. “I lost in Round 2, but still was feeling good, so there was no doubt in my mind that I’d still be doing good in the reps and just kind of keeping the flow going. Honestly, I feel like this is the best team vibes we’ve ever had. The energy is really good, everyone’s surfing really good and making their heats, so it just kind of keeps everyone going with more positive energy and every day feels good.”

Kai Odriozola, Team Spain / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Juniors Kai Odriozola and Oliver Zietz step up the level

2023 ISA U/18 World Junior bronze medalist Kai Odriozola (ESP) found a long left at Rastrial and connected multiple strong backhand turns to open his heat with an 8.17. Backing it up with a 7.33, the 18-year-old earned a 15.50 heat total, the highest of the day and second highest of the men’s event so far. Fellow recent junior graduate Oliver Zietz (NED) upped the ante late in the heat, earning a 9.00, the highest single wave score of the event so far for the men, for similar combination backhand surfing. Odriozola managed to hold on and progress ahead of Zietz, however. Competing in his first WSG, the Spaniard is relishing the chance to learn from his time in Puerto Rico.

“I hadn’t been able to get any big scores until now and it feels super good to finally get a big heat total,” Odriozola said. “In the Main Round I lost with a stupid mistake, I did an interference, but now I’m here just gaining experience. To be here competing with all these big names, like (Gabriel) Medina, (Filipe) Toledo, Ethan Ewing, all these guys, is just amazing. I don’t have any pressure, I just want to learn from these guys and do the best I can.”

Elishama Beckford, Team Jamaica / Photo: Jersson Barboza

Jamaica’s Elishama Beckford stands firm against heralded competitors

In the final heat of the day, Elishama Beckford (JAM) was able to hold off strong competition from former WSG silver medalist Jean Carlos Gonzalez (PAN) and WSL Championship Tour surfer Matthew McGillivray (RSA). Though Wheeler Hasburgh (CAN) ran away with the heat win, Beckford held his own to take down the big names and put his name on the map.

“All of these guys are inspirations to me,” Beckford said. “I watch Matt (McGillivray) compete at the highest level and take notes on his surfing. I’m a student of the game and it just feels good to be in a heat with him and just good energy. To make it through to the next round means a lot for me and my country, so feeling good.

“It’s such a blessing (to be on the team). We have a wonderful group of people, we have a lovely country supporting us. Team Jamaica is just all about the good vibes and having fun and spreading love through surfing. It’s good to be here in beautiful Puerto Rico enjoying that and keeping the vibe alive.”

Competition will resume at 7:30am AST with men’s Main Round 3 at Rastrial and Women’s repechage Round 3 at El Pico.

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