PUNTA ROCA, La Libertad, El Salvador (Wednesday, June 15, 2022) - The Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona, Stop No. 7 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2022 Championship Tour (CT), kicked off today in three-to-four foot waves at the famed right-hand point break called Punta Roca, also known as La Punta or Punta Chilama.
After waiting for the first three days of the window, today’s competition ran women’s and men’s Opening Round 1, as well as women’s Elimination Round 2. The next call will be tomorrow, Thursday, June 16, at 6:45 a.m. CST for a possible 7:05 a.m. start.
World No. 2 Brisa Hennessy and Tatiana Weston-Webb Eliminated Early from Stop No. 7
Top seeds fell into the Elimination Round this afternoon following losses in their Opening Round heats. Most notably, current World No. 1 Carissa Moore (HAW), World No. 2 Brisa Hennessy (CRI), and seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) had to deal with the threat of early elimination in Round 2.
Photo: WSL / Pat Nolan
Hennessy, who suffered a foot injury during her opening round heat, surfed through the pain but it was not enough to advance through Heat 3 of Round 1.
Relegated to Elimination Round 2 and following multiple stitches in her foot, Hennessy fell to the 2022 WSL season wildcard, Caroline Marks (USA), who returned to competition for the first time since the Billabong Pro Pipeline.
Marks found her rhythm over Hennessy and will move into the Quarterfinals, while Hennessy exits in Equal 9th place.
“Brisa (Hennessy) is such an amazing surfer and competitor,” said Marks. “We started surfing against each other since I can remember competing. She’s always been one of my hardest competitors and she’s pushed me more than anyone growing up so I was just grateful to have a heat with her. She’s had a phenomenal season so far and it’s been really inspiring.”
Five-time WSL Champion Moore regrouped and laid down her World Title mentality with authority to accumulate the day’s best performance with a 15.66 (out of a possible 20) heat total.
After struggling in her opening round heat against Courtney Conlogue (USA) and Ultimate Surfer wildcard Tia Blanco (USA), Moore was up against Blanco again in the Elimination heat. Moore’s win advances her to the Quarterfinals where she will face Marks, her 2021 Olympic teammate.
“It’s always a bit nerve-wracking when you find yourself in the Elimination Round and this morning I just felt a little out of sorts with the low tide,” said Moore. “We haven’t had a swell like this on the bank since we’ve been here so it was great to have another opportunity to feel out the lineup and get a little more confident out there.”
Seven-time WSL Champion Gilmore battled her way out of the Elimination Round to claim the final spot in the Quarterfinals. Gilmore defeated 2021 World Runner-up Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) with a massive 14.40 heat total. Gilmore, who shines in right-hand point breaks, showed what she can do as the swell picked up this afternoon and will now match up with compatriot Isabella Nichols in the next round.
Johanne Defay (FRA) also kept her momentum going from the ROXY Pro G-Land by overcoming rookie talent Gabriela Bryan (HAW). Bryan is the sole rookie left in the women’s draw but could not garner the 2.79-point difference to advance in the Surf City El Salvador Pro pres. by Corona.
Brazilians Strike On Opening Day with Electric Performances
Current World No. 1 Filipe Toledo (BRA) debuted with strength and laser focus to notch another Opening Round victory in his prolific 2022 season. The World Title contender’s signature forehand flair and power led the way against wildcard threat, local hero, Bryan Perez and CT veteran Nat Young (USA).
Toledo’s affiliation with world-class right-handers is never in question with multiple wins at Jeffreys Bay, his win at this year’s Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, and 2015 win at Snapper Rocks, and he’s looking to add another big win to his resume at Punta Roca.
“I feel great, blessed, happy, and comfortable,” said Toledo. “It’s been quite a trip since G-Land. Got back home for a night then jump back in the plane to get here in El Salvador with only three or four days to set it up, and dealing with jet lag, and surf. It’s pretty crazy but it’s part of the game. I’m humbled to be here and in the position I’m at right now."
Right behind Toledo, fellow Brazilians Gabriel Medina, Caio Ibelli, and Yago Dora took commanding Opening Round victories.
Dora missed the entirety of this season leading up to the Mid-season Cut and returned with a flurry. The injury replacement showed his explosive capabilities with jaw-dropping aerial antics to garner a near-perfect 9.00 and 5.27 to catapult his way into the Round of 16.
Ethan Ewing (AUS) also put on an inspiring performance for a 14.00 heat total, but not enough to escape the Elimination Round.
“That was the most exciting thing that’s happened since my injury actually,” said Dora. “I’m just so happy right now coming back from an injury and landing an air like that, it feels amazing. Not even happy about that heat, just that air, even if I didn’t make the heat I’d be happy. When you’re injured you don’t know if you’re going to be doing one of these in your life, with a jersey on, it feels amazing. I hope to have a lot more good heats.”
Jack Robinson (AUS) continues his winning form with another Opening Round victory as he looks for a third-consecutive CT win. Credit: WSL / Diz
Notable Opening Day Victories: Jackson Baker, Jack Robinson, Isabella Nichols, and Lakey Peterson Come Out Swinging
2022 rookie sensation Jackson Baker (AUS) continues to prove his caliber at each new event, this time notching a win over 2019 WSL Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA) and seasoned veteran Kolohe Andino (USA).
Jack Robinson (AUS) also continued the momentum from his Quiksilver Pro G-Land win with a victory in his opening heat (Round 1, Heat 3) against rookie Samuel Pupo (BRA) and injury replacement Josh Burke. Robinson scored a strong 7.00 and a 5.67 back-up to comfortably move through the Round of 16.
Earlier in the day, experience paid its dividends for the likes of Nichols with an impressive Opening Round victory over Hennessy and Marks. Nichols last competed in a WSL jersey here at Punta Roca in 2016 and the 24-year-old showcased a dominant forehand attack over her opponents.
Lakey Peterson (USA) is one spot just below the WSL Final 5. With a win in her opening heat of the day and heading straight for the Quarterfinals, Peterson has put herself in a good position for a charge at the rankings, especially given some of the early eliminations from the competition this afternoon.
Peterson will face fellow Californian Courtney Conlogue (USA) in the Quarters once the competition resumes.
Surf City El Salvador Pro Women’s Opening Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 12.16 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.27, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 7.57
HEAT 2: Courtney Conlogue (USA) 11.13 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 10.50, Tia Blanco (USA) 8.67
HEAT 3: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 11.53 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 9.17, Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 7.44
HEAT 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 12.87 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 8.50, Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 8.34
Surf City El Salvador Pro Women’s Elimination Round 2 Results:
HEAT 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.66 DEF. Tia Blanco (USA) 7.84
HEAT 2: Johanne Defay (FRA) 13.26 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.47
HEAT 3: Caroline Marks (USA) 13.30 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 10.44
HEAT 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) 14.40 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 9.13
Surf City El Salvador Pro Women’s Quarterfinal Matchups:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
HEAT 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Courtney Conlogue (USA)
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)
HEAT 4: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) vs. Isabella Nichols (AUS)
Surf City El Salvador Pro Men’s Opening Round 1 Results:
HEAT 1: Yago Dora (BRA) 14.27 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 14.00, Jordy Smith (ZAF) 10.73
HEAT 2: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 10.70 DEF. Connor O'Leary (AUS) 10.03, Carlos Munoz (CRI) 3.27
HEAT 3: Jack Robinson (AUS) 12.67 DEF. Josh Burke (BRB) 10.00, Samuel Pupo (BRA) 9.93
HEAT 4: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 13.83 DEF. Nat Young (USA) 10.66, Bryan Perez (SLV) 8.96
HEAT 5: Jackson Baker (AUS) 11.84 DEF. Italo Ferreira (BRA) 11.17, Kolohe Andino (USA) 9.50
HEAT 6: Caio Ibelli (BRA) 12.00 DEF. Jake Marshall (USA) 10.33, Griffin Colapinto (USA) 9.60
HEAT 7: Gabriel Medina (BRA) 14.50 DEF. Jadson Andre (BRA) 10.86, Callum Robson (AUS) 4.70
HEAT 8: Barron Mamiya (HAW) 13.50 DEF. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 11.93, Matthew McGillivray (ZAF) 10.94
Surf City El Salvador Pro Men’s Elimination Round 2 Matchups:
HEAT 1: Ethan Ewing (AUS) vs. Bryan Perez (SLV)
HEAT 2: Callum Robson (AUS) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
HEAT 3: Italo Ferreira (BRA) vs. Josh Burke (BRB)
HEAT 4: Kolohe Andino (USA) vs. Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
HEAT 5: Griffin Colapinto (USA) vs. Carlos Munoz (CRI)
HEAT 6: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Nat Young (USA)
HEAT 7: Miguel Pupo (BRA) vs. Jake Marshall (USA)
HEAT 8: Connor O'Leary (AUS) vs. Samuel Pupo (BRA)
Stay tuned to American Surf Magazine for more updates.