The Inaugural Jeep International Hainan Cup World Surf League (WSL) Men’s Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 event has kicked off today in extremely tough conditions. The completion of Round One saw competitors get to work in wind affected 1-foot peaks.
With the South China Sea working on trade wind swells at this time of year, the opening day of competition, unfortunately, fell on a trough day of the swell chart. The excitement levels were still high with the finesse and skill showed by competitors being something to behold in the small weak waves.
Brazilian future surf star Samuel Pupo (BRA) looked comfortable in the small conditions posting the highest heat total of the opening day, a 13.25 (out of a possible 20) with an epic display of fins free progressive surfing. Pupo cruises into Round Two where he will no doubt play as a major threat throughout the remainder of the competition.
“That was kind of fun out there,” Pupo said. “The waves are small but I was able to get into a good rhythm and find the scores to win. My board feels good so I hope to keep making heats. This is my first time in China and it is really cool. Hainan is beautiful and reminds me a lot of home in Brazil so it is fun to explore.”
Hailing from the wave-rich shores of Portugal, Miguel Blanco (PRT) is more accustom to large intense surf than the small wind swell on offer today. Blanco’s thirst for perfect surf means he was out of his comfort zone on Day 1 in China. This did not show on the scoreboard with Blanco posting the second highest two-wave heat total of the event so far, a 12.50 (out of a possible 20) to win his heat.
“I really prepare myself mentally for surfing heats with waves like this,” Blanco said. “It’s about staying as positive as possible and trying to find a way to have fun. This is my second time in China and it is cool to be back, it is such a different culture to what I’m used to. You can really see the potential Lingshui has for waves but just not today unfortunately. Today was really hard work for sure.”
Fresh off a QS1,000 win in Port Stephens two weeks ago, young Gold Coast ripper Liam O’Brien (AUS) has come to China with the hope of continuing his good form. With vastly different conditions on offer today, this wasn’t going to be easy for the natural-footer. Fortunately for O’Brien, his positive attitude and light-footed surfing allowed him to find the winning heat total of 9.25 and progress into Round Two.
“I try and surf in all conditions at home so I’m prepared for whatever we have to deal with at an event,” O’Brien said. “You never know what you are going to get at an event which I find to be a fun challenge, trying to find a score in all types of different conditions is a great test. I’m happy to make that heat and will hope for a few more waves this week.”
Kiwi competitor Elliott Paerata-Reid (NZL) adapted to the small conditions at QuingShui Bay by changing his equipment to a lighter epoxy board to increase his float on the weaker waves. The decision paid off as Paerata-Reid cruised through Round One with a heat total of 8.90.
“At the end of the day we are all here to get points and regardless of the conditions we will all get some points,” Paerata-Reid said. “I have a couple of new epoxy constructed small wave boards that I bought with me and it definitely helped. I’m just staying positive and hopefully that helps me make a few more heats.” Young
Hawaiian prodigy Noah Beschen (HAW) is looking for a big result in China and hopes it way improve his seeding heading into the 2018 season. Only just coming out of the Junior ranks, 16-year-old Beschen played to his strengths and stayed light on his feet to move through the heat just behind Brazilian Wesley Leite (BRA).
“A big part of coming here for me was to try and improve my seeding and try and start 2018 in the QS6,000 events in Australia,” Beschen said. “I’m a lot lighter than the majority of the other competitors which is a definite advantage for me. As hard as it is out there I’m happy to be competing in a new place.”
The 2017 Jeep International Hainan Open runs from November 16 – 19 at the beautiful QingShui Bay in LingShui County.
- Photo credit: WSL/Bennett