Opening day of the World Surf League (WSL) Barbados Surf Pro presented by Diamonds International, a men’s and women’s QS 5,000, provided moments of high-performance surfing magic in two-to-four foot swell at the iconic reef break of Soup Bowl.
Men’s Round of 96 was completed in its entirety with women’s competition, as well as the Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Loving Memory of Zander Venezia, called OFF for the day.
Pictured: Costa Rica's Anthony Fillingim soared his way through a debut heat win at Soup Bowl. Credit: © WSL / Larrier
QS newcomer Luke Guinaldo (USA) continued his early success from the Dominican Republic straight into his Barbados debut for an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10).
Guinaldo’s backhand attack garnered the Huntington Beach, Californian, a 14.17 (out of a possible 20) heat total in his first-ever heat at Soup Bowl. Now, the 18-year-old looks to keep his head down and continue building upon his early success.
“I was just trying to do the right maneuvers in the right sections and I messed up my first two waves,” said Guinaldo. “But, I knew I had the ability to take this heat out so I just stayed calm, and stuck to the plan. I just like to stay on my own pace, build my fire throughout the event so we’re laying down the groundwork, and not really trying to change too much.”
Former event victor, Barbados’ own, Che Allan took control of his debut with the opportunity to strike at home and earned a clutch, Round of 96 victory. But, it was Ryan Huckabee (USA) who upped the ante with a near-excellent 7.33 and one of Barbados’ emerging talents, Ocean Gittens, was eliminated in the process.
For Huckabee, a massive result here could change the course of his season and his forehand attack led to a powerful start in hopes of doing so.
“It’s awesome that the most important event of this year is here,” said Huckabee. “It’s by far our best wave on the schedule and I’m stoked to be back. Hopefully I can go pretty far here and I’m excited to see if I can do that.”
An international field includes competitors from the likes of Dominican Republic, Brazil, Mexico, and more as Costa Rica’s Anthony Fillingim led the way amongst them. Fillingim’s aerial assault was a signature of the former QS threat before an injury set him back. But, now the Costa Rican is back and in-form looking to shake up proceedings and build toward next season.
“I’m super happy to be here right now at Soup Bowl and just trying to keep the Pura Vida alive,” said Fillingim. “Honestly, I’ve been eyeing that air section. I had a big ramp yesterday in training but I didn’t approach it because I don’t want to get reinjured after my ACL injury last year. So I waited for the heat and hopefully I can do a couple more in the next one.”
Fillingim's fellow Costa Rican Tosh Talbot joins him with a Round of 96 win as Jake Davis (USA) found success here nearly a decade ago at the local event held in November and returned to Barbados for the first time since in winning fashion alongside the likes of fellow Californians Lucas Owston, Kai Kushner, Peter Stewart, and Brad Ettinger earning debut wins.
Also making their way into the Round of 64 with heat wins, Will Deane (USA), Sam Reidy (CRC), Gian Marco Oliva (DOM), David Do Carmo (BRA), and Dwight Pastrana (PRI) look to keep the momentum against top-seeded competitors.