PUERTO ESCONDIDO, Oaxaca/Mexico - firing surf in the six-to-eight foot (3 metre) range at the infamous Mexican Pipeline decided the Quarterfinalists at the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) 4-Star Quiksilver Pro Puerto Escondido.
With only 16 surfers remaining in the draw, the Quiksilver Pro Puerto Escondido’s iconic location of Playa Zicatela has not only included some of the globe’s hungriest up-and-coming competitive ASP competitors, but also some of the most talented big-wave riders.
Angelo Lozano (Puerto Escondido, MEX), 23, who is a former ASP 2-Star event winner at Puerto Escondido and a finalist at last year’s Quiksilver Pro Puerto Escondido, barely escaped from his Round of 32 heat today, but locked in the day’s only perfect 10-point ride on a massive lefthand barrel with less than two minutes remaining in his heat to catapult the young Mexican local into the lead.
“I was getting worried,” Lozano said. “I was looking for the good ones, for the barrels. If there were no open barrels, I was just going to go for a closeout. I saw Magnum (Martinez) and Gabriel (Villaran) catching good barrels, so I went and sat with them. I almost got caught by this huge set and then that left came. I barely caught it and barely made the drop and got spit out. I was stoked.”
Lozano was elated to score his first career perfect 10 in front of his home crowd and hopes to help carry the torch alongside his fellow Mexican surfers as competition progresses.
“Getting a perfect 10 at home is the best,” Lozano said. “I’ve never gotten a 10 before. It was just amazing. To go from losing the heat and then coming back and winning the heat, I’m just so stoked.”
Tyler Newton (Kauai, HI), 20, who was a standout in yesterday’s action, continued to flare today, charging through solid Puerto Escondido barrels while posting one of the highest heat totals of the day, a 16.20 out of 20.
“I woke up this morning and I could just tell it was going to be a good day,” Newton said. “It’s a little bit smaller and a little peakier and there are just sick waves out there.”
The Hawaiian charger hopes that today’s ideal conditions will hold for tomorrow and that he can continue to build momentum throughout the final day of competition.
“I’m super stoked to make it through to the Quarterfinals,” Newton said. “Hopefully it doesn’t drop off too much tomorrow. This is the perfect size that I like it and hopefully I can keep going tomorrow.”
Ricky Whitlock (Carlsbad, CA), 23, struggled to find a rhythm in his Round of 64 heat yesterday, but wasted no time in his Round of 32 heat today and effortlessly threaded through several Puerto Escondido bombs to take out his heat win while advancing through to the Quarterfinals.
“Yesterday I was out of rhythm and I missed my first wave and it messed with my head,” Whitlock said. “When I paddled out today, I decided I was just going to catch a wave right away, even if it was a bad one, just to get things started and that ended setting me up for a good right. I felt good after that.”
The versatile goofy-footer is no stranger to the infamous beachbreak home to Puerto Escondido and feels comfortable in the barreling conditions after years of traveling to the small Mexican town.
“I’ve been coming down here my whole life,” Whitlock said. “I was down here last month for a couple of big swells, so I’m really comfortable with the waves down here, whereas with a lot of other competitors, you can see the fear in their eyes before they paddle out. If you’re comfortable it makes you not second guess yourself. I’m just happy to be surfing this place with only three other guys out.”
Quiksilver Pro Puerto Escondido Round of 32 Results:
Heat 1: Angelo Lozano (MEX) 16.15, Gabriel Villaran (PER) 15.05, Magnum Martinez (VEN) 13.80, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 9.60
Heat 2: Tyler Newton (HAW) 16.20, Peter Mel (USA) 8.75, Denis Tihara (BRA) 3.70, Julio Nurse (VEN) 3.50
Heat 3: Ricardo dos Santos (BRA) 17.05, Casey Brown (HAW) 11.50, Mark Healy (HAW) 9.50, Diego Cadena (MEX) 5.75
Heat 4: Sean Hayes (USA) 13.90, Nils Schweizer (USA) 8.95, Guillermo Satt (CHL), Oscar Moncada (MEX) 6.70
Heat 5: Ricky Whitlock (USA) 16.15, Devon Tresher (USA) 12.65, Brian Toth (PRI) 9.75, Junior Faria (BRA) 7.40
Heat 6: Carlos “Coco” Nogales (MEX) 10.75, Kevin Sullivan (HAW) 8.00, Leandro Usuna (ARG) 7.90, Federico Pilurzu (CRI) 5.70
Heat 7: Stephan Figueiredo (BRA) 13.85, Nathan Brandi (BRA) 12.85, Chris Foster (HAW) 12.50, Jesse Mendes (BRA) 11.65
Heat 8: Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 10.50, David Rutherford (MEX) 8.20, Isaac Vega (CRI) 6.65, Gonzalo Velasco (PER) 5.75