The World Surf League (WSL) North America Qualifying Series (QS) contenders are back and kickstarted their 2023/24’ season with opening day of the Jack’s Surfboards Pro presented by Hydro Flask powering through early goings.
Pictured: Brazilian David Do Carmo, who resides in Huntington Beach, opened up with the day's best performance to set the standard. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
Two-to-three foot, clean windswell provided moments of high-performance magic as the men’s Round of 104 and 96, as well as the women’s Round of 40 finished in their entirety.
The stage is now set for top seeds to make their debut and join opening day standouts looking to keep their momentum alive.QS veteran and event threat David do Carmo (BRA) fell short of his goal joining the Challenger Series elite last season and put that focus into the Round of 96 heat.
The Brazilian, now residing in Huntington Beach, unleashed his backhand attack to garner an excellent 8.17 (out of a possible 10) and 15.10 heat total (out of a possible 20) to set the pace of competition. But, do Carmo knows the job is far from done and already has his eyes set on the top-seeded Round of 64.
“I’m stoked to start like that, last season wasn’t that great for me, but I still got a lot of experience,” said do Carmo. “I put everything I could to be into the Top 7 and now it’s a new event, a new season right here in my backyard. Now I just hope to do well and start strong. I got lucky to find that wave and knew I was surfing good with a good board under my feet. I was grateful for that opportunity.”
Raiki Nishida (USA) got his fresh start in the right direction with a proper 7.83 on his aggressive backhand attack, linking multiple major maneuvers on a Huntington Beach gem.
The San Clemente, California, competitor had a tough finish to the 2022/23’ season and now looks to get started in the right direction to build his growing career.
“That’s amazing for the confidence after I lost early in the last few events so it’s nice to get into the rhythm,” said Nishida. “I haven’t surfed Huntington Beach since I was a grom so I was stoked to get a nug and do what I was supposed to do on it. It was mentally pretty hard because I kept losing and everyone is so good, but it’s a new year, hit restart and train harder and see what happens the rest of the year.”
Also garnering vital Round of 96 victories, Nicholas Coli (USA), Cole McCaffray (USA), Dane Matson (USA), Hayden Rodgers (USA), Cristian Padilla (DOM), Sebastian Mendes (USA), Parker Cohn (USA), Jordy Collins (USA), Cannon Carr (USA), Dylan Hord (USA), Greyson Grant (USA), Jak Zietz (USA), Cory Arrambide (USA), and David O'Keefe (USA) moved into the top-seeded Round of 64.Former Super Girl Surf Pro victor Samantha Sibley (USA) made her long-awaited return to the jersey in flourishing form with a Round of 40, debut heat win. The now 20-year-old has her eyes set on a big result before the season break as she makes her way into the top-seeded round where she typically would begin her campaigns.
"It was cool taking a little break, I only did half of last season, and it's a little change of pace," said Sibley. "Now I'm starting in [the first round] because I lost all my seed points, but it's sick I like have that extra heat and grinding from a place I haven't been before. I'm stoked, I needed a break so I think it's awesome [to be back]."
Pictured: At age 13, Alana Lopez (USA) is already showing she's capable of making it through tough conditions in the jersey. Credit: © WSL / Nichols
WSL newcomer Alana Lopez (USA) represented for her home state of Florida as she continues to grow in the jersey.
Daughter to former Championship Tour (CT) competitor Cory, the 13-year-old accrued a solid performance in the tough afternoon conditions she was able to overpower for a 6.83. Now, Lopez prepares for the top seeds when competition resumes.
"It's pretty similar [to Ponce Inlet] just with the smaller waves and wind on it," said Lopez. "I'm riding a Subdriver Lightspeed from Mayhem and it felt really good. Thank you to my dad coming out here last year and helping me, and coaching, along with my little brother."
Also, Santa Cruz, California's, Maddie Storrer and fellow Californian Syd Ott moved into the Round of 32 with clutch heat wins.
Event organizers will reconvene at 7:30 a.m. PDT for a likely 8:00 a.m. PDT.