The Rip Curl Pro Puerto Rico marks the return to ASP competition to the Caribbean Island for the first time since the Rip Curl Pro Search in 2010 and represents the first event on the ASP North America calendar for 2013.
Jason Abarca (Jaco, CRI), 24, proved to be the early round standout when he lit up the Jobos lineup with a flaring forehand repertoire on the running righthanders. Albarca detonated the day’s highest scores amidst his efforts, posting a 15.23 out of 20 heat total in Round 1 and was equally consistent in his Round 2 victory.
“That was a good start,” Abarca said. “I’m happy to be here and competing at this level with surfers from around the world. We have a wave that’s similar to this in Costa Rica and I feel comfortable out there.”
Ben Bourgeois (Wrightsville Beach, NC), 34, former ASP WCT competitor, made a return to competition for the first time in years and found success on both the lefts and rights of Jobos while taking out two heats wins.
“I decided to do this event because it was here in Puerto Rico and I have a lot of good friends here,” Bourgeois said. “I’m staying for the whole month too, so this is really just a bonus.
Bourgeois, who has traveled to Puerto Rico since his early childhood, feels at home in the Jobos lineup and hopes the new swell expected to ignite Puerto Rico will deliver the world class conditions the Caribbean island is known for.
“I’ve been coming here since I was a little grom,” Bourgeois said. “Since I was about 10 years old, I started coming here as an amateur and I’ve been coming ever since. It’s rare this time of year that it’s this small. If anything, usually the problem is that it’s too big, but there are still little waves and it’s contestable. Hopefully these international guys can see PR with really good conditions.”
Wesley Toth (PRI), 24, was one of several Puerto Ricans to standout in front of the local crowd amidst a commanding Round 2 victory compliments of polished backhand surfing.
“As soon as I heard they were going to have the event here it was like a dream come true,” Toth said. “For the past month and a half I’ve been training and surfing a lot, but this morning my nerves were going off. To start the heat with a 7, I was stoked.”
Toth’s local knowledge prevailed over the field despite the small conditions. The Puerto Rican locked in to two clean righthanders, delivering a series of seamless backhand turns, securing a 14.40 out of 20 heat total to secure the win.
“It’s amazing to have the contest here,” Toth said. “I grew up surfing here and feel real comfortable and with the crowd on the beach behind you, it’s amazing as well.”
Jake Halstead (San Diego, CA), 18, made an impressive return to competition following a severe ankle injury. The regular footer connected a series of committed forehand turns, taking out one of the day’s high heat totals of 14.00 to advance to Round 3.
“I ruptured two of my ligaments and fractured my ankle doing a little air,” Halstead said. “I did a bunch of therapy after that and just worked on getting it strong again. It actually feels almost stronger than before. It’s actually been a wakeup call for me. It’s made me realize all of the things that are so great in life, so it’s good.”
Halstead, a standout on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series, struggled to find a rhythm in 2012 and hopes his early round success at the Rip Curl Pro Puerto Rico marks a turnaround to his competitive career.
“I wasn’t really too nervous because I just came off of this injury,” Halstead said. “It feels good to just get out in the water and surf a heat again. It feels good and I’m stoked that I won that heat. I’ve got a good training program going on now and it’s just about getting the waves in a heat and not getting too far ahead of myself. Hopefully I can get the ball rolling for the year.”
RIP CURL PRO PUERTO RICO ROUND OF 128 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Ben Bourgeois (USA) 13.36, Tanner Strohmenger (USA) 10.40, Thiago Guimaraes (BRA) 10.30, Dylan Kowalski (USA) 6.94
Heat 2: Jake Kelley (USA) 14.10, Ryan Briggs (USA) 10.10, Nathan Behl (USA) 6.67, Noe Mar McGonable (CRI) 6.50
Heat 3: Cam Richards (USA) 9.93, Scott Weinhardt (USA) 8.27, Bryan Laide (PRI) 7.40, Breyden Taylor (USA) 7.17
Heat 4: Hector Santamaria (PRI) 13.13, Jeremy Carter (USA) 10.37, Colt Ward (USA) 8.80, Jacob Szekely (USA) 8.50
Heat 5: Magnum Martinez (VEN) 11.00, Juan Carlos-Martinez (PRI) 8.93, Gabriel Escudero (PRI) 8.50, Willie Safreed (USA) 4.63
Heat 6: Wesley Toth (PRI) 14.40, Tayler Brothers (USA) 11.00, Matt Myers (USA) 9.33, Brady McKenzie (USA) 6.70
Heat 7: Ryan Bignold (AUS) 11.26, Rob Kelly (USA) 10.64, Darren Muschett (USA) 10.57, Mark Dawson (USA) 9.07
Heat 8: Seth Moniz (HAW) 12.26, Bobby Okvist (USA) 9.07, Jensen Callaway (USA) 7.87, Benji Brand (ZAF) 7.03
Heat 9: Jake Halstead (USA) 14.00, Tom Cloarec (FRA) 12.10, Patrick Curren (USA) 9.16, Brad Flora (PRI) 6.60
Heat 10: Dean Randazzo (USA) 10.83, Tommy Bursian (USA) 8.14, Diego Salgado (PAN) 7.20, Josie Graves (PRI) 6.04
Heat 11: Jason Abarca (CRI) 13.10, J.D. Lewis (USA) 9.17, Ryan Croteau (USA) 9.16, Derek Gomes (VEN) 8.40
Heat 12: Skip McCullough (USA) 10.17, Kellen Ellison (USA) 9.23, Cody Canzoneri (USA) 7.20, Noberto Pena (PRI) 6.30
Heat 13: Ricardo Delgado (PRI) 10.10, Trevor Thornton (USA) 9.33, Julen Egiguren (EUK) 6.40, Allen Schuyler (HAW) 2.53
Heat 14: Mikey McCabe (USA) 12.40, Travis Southworth (MEX) 9.23, Austin Smith-Ford (USA) 7.04, J. Andres Carreras (PRI) 4.16
RIP CURL PRO PUERTO RICO ROUND OF 144 RESULTS:
Heat 1: Ben Bourgeois (USA) 10.67, Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) 9.60, Roger Torres (PRI) 7.43, Moises Montaivo (PRI) 3.30
Heat 2: Aaron Gieger (PRI) 11.50, Hector Santamaria (PRI) 9.26, Carlos Torres (PRI) 7.07, Myler Laine-Toner (USA) 5.78
Heat 3: Gabriel Escudero (PRI) 14.00, Brady McKenzie (USA) 10.60, Jonah Carter (USA) 7.67, Stevie Pittman (USA) 7.23
Heat 4: Darren Muschett (PRI) 9.07, Seth Moniz (HAW) 8.67, Knox Harris (USA) 5.27, Rory Reep (USA) 4.06
Heat 5: Brad Flora (USA) 7.63, Tommy Bursian (PRI) 7.40, Wilfredo Deliz Caban (PRI) 7.15, Morgan Leavel (USA) 4.87
Heat 6: Jason Abarca (CRI) 15.23, Noberto Pena (PRI) 6.13, Brian Crotu (CRI) 5.50, Cody Sammons (USA) 1.87