TURF: 2013-2014 APSPR Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit Event #2; Domes Beach, Rincon, Puerto Rico; March 8th-9th, 2014
ENERGY: The long awaited second installment of the 2013-2014 Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit ran into a minor complication with conditions, since the contest got underway just as the tail end of a previous swell faded, leaving behind small, windy conditions. Of course, the irony of this scenario was not lost on contest organizers, who still vividly remember the logistical nightmare that took place around this time last year when a major swell unexpectedly brought maxing conditions to the Rincon area on contest day, forcing a quick change of venue and last-minute assembly of a jet-ski assist/water safety team. But just as last year’s event ended up being both exciting and smoothly run, so did the 2014 edition, with conditions early in the contest favoring a display of impressive aerial maneuvers, while an incoming swell finally filled in by the end of the event, bringing 4- to 6-foot waves with occasional overhead sets for the finals.
FIRST TIME AT FIGHT CLUB: Year after year, the Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit continues to gain notoriety as a world-class contest series, and that fact was readily obvious at this most recent event. With record crowds, a diverse array of international talent, the strongest field of women’s competitors to date, and more surfers flying in from the Mainland US to compete than ever before, it’s clear that the series is really gaining traction. And it can’t hurt that sponsors like Corona Extra, Corona Light, Jose Cuervo, Finlandia, Cabreiroa, Hang Loose Surf Shop, Werner Vega Surfboards, Mango’s, El Nuevo Dia, Wapa, N-Punto, Alfa Rock, Mundo Rad, Surfer’s Village, and Surfline put up a generous prize offering: $25,000 for the men, and $12,000 for the ladies.
SLIDE: On the men’s side of things, much to the delight of the gathered spectators, local hero Gaby Escudero secured his first APSPR win in an exciting finals showdown with Virginia Beach up-and-comer Michael Dunphy. In the earlier rounds, the smaller conditions seemed to favor mainland East Coast visitors like Dunphy, who logged the highest wave score of the event (an 8.7) and took down crowd favorite Brian Toth in the semifinals. Meanwhile, it was a long road to the finals for Escudero, who was surfing on his backhand in the predominant rights at Domes. In the semis, Escudero narrowly squeaked by Venezuelan threat Rafael Pereira, who posted the highest heat total (16.20) earlier in the contest. And the finals were no less exciting, with Escudero claiming victory over Dunphy by just 0.06 of a point thanks to a series of vertical attacks that earned him scores of 7.63 and 7.43.
The women’s competition boasted a stacked field of 20 contestants, including many current ASP WQS chargers. The highest placing local on the women’s side was Idalis “Lilac” Alvarado, who finished a respectable 5th-place this year, demonstrating her small wave prowess after having wowed spectators with her fearless charging at last year’s event. In the semifinals, New York WQS threat and part-time Puerto Rico resident Quincy Davis took down Florida native and fellow up-and-comer Nikki Viesins, while French talent Maud Le Car (currently ranked 5th on the WQS) took out 2013-2014 Corona Extra Pro Surf Series Event #1 champion Chelsea Tuach, of Barbados. Le Car and Davis met in the finals, where Davis pulled out a hard-fought win, a result that will surely give her confidence heading into the rest of the WQS season.
THE PAIN: The crowd may have been audibly unstoked to see Brian Toth go down in the semifinals, but Toth himself has bigger fish to fry. His main focus is, understandably, elsewhere, since he currently sits ranked 25th on the ASP qualifying series in hopes of becoming Puerto Rico’s first representative to the World Tour.
THE MAN: Obviously, congratulations have to go out to Gaby Escudero for what will hopefully be his first of many Corona Extra Pro Surf Circuit event wins. Along with Quincy Davis, other praiseworthy individuals included Carlos “Chispa” Torres, who won a $1,000 pay day in the air show after the contest concluded, and Florida native/Puerto Rico transplant, David Balzerak, a newly inducted East Coast Surfing Hall Of Fame member who was presented a lifetime achievement award by APSPR officials at a special ceremony Saturday afternoon.
YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB: “It’s really great that Corona Extra and all the other sponsors are encouraging moves of the future. I’m really stoked to win this special event.” –Air Show champion Carlos “Chispa” Torres
FINAL RESULTS OF THE 2013-2014 APSPR CORONA EXTRA PRO SURF CIRCUIT EVENT #2:
1. Gaby Escudero, $10,000
2. Michael Dunphy, 4,500
1. Quincy Davis, $5,000
2. Maud Le Car, $2,000