Arica Chilean Challenge: showing his sponsors

Mitch Rawlins has taken the Arica Chilean Challenge Trials, at El Gringo, in Chile. Waves were pumping the infamous surf peak with perfect two-metre left and right rides. Rawlins looked hungry for a win and picked the best waves to claim victory and snatch the 2000 GQS points that were up for grabs.

"Finally, it all came together", laughed Mitch. "It’s been a while and it feels good but with the first round of the GSS coming up, I don’t have much time to enjoy it", he added. Thomas Rigby was second, Jones Russell third and Charly Chapelet took fourth place.

With the surf still pumping and the crowd building organizers decided to run straight into the first round of the main event. The first heat of the GSS leader-board round set a blistering pace with former world champion Damian King, from Australia, firing in the gaping tubes.

"I lost my board when I was in front and just kept cool", said King. "There are a lot of young guys coming through the ranks so that challenges me to keep on top of my game and keep fresh", he added.

The leaderboard section of the event offers riders 6 points for a win, 4 points for second, 2 points for third and 1 point for last across the first three rounds with the Top 16 moving into the round 4 man-on-man heats.

The second heat was a see-sawing affair with all four riders holding first place at various stages of the heat but in the end Ben Player showed great determination and contest savvy to come home in the dying seconds.

"I saw that wave coming and knew it had the potential to get the score", said Player.

Pierre Luis Costes, from France, wooed the crowd with a fearless approach on the shallow reef that included a deep barrel and a highflying invert to post the day’s highest combo of 16.40 out of 20. "I like the 4 man priority", said Pierre. "It let me focus more on high performance riding rather that positioning".

In the final heat of the day current world champion Amaury Laverhne looked like he owned the break stamping his authority all over the lefts to take first place.