Grant continued his march into the last 16 of the Qualifying stream as wild, overhead waves forced organisers to close down the contest venue at Senoritas and only run the men’s heats at Caballeros on the other side of the bay.
Selecting the best waves, Grant employed his full repertoire of powerful bottom turns, vertical off the top manoeuvres and even threw in the occasional aerial to post a heat total of 12.74, the third highest of the round. He relegated former Dream Tour campaigner Ben Bourgeois (USA) to the runner-up spot and banished Leandro Usuna (ARG) and former South American champion Gary Saavedra (PAN) to the Repecharge rounds.
Grant’s team mates Warwick Wright and Thursday’s standout Chad du Toit were not so fortunate and will restart their respective challenges for medals in Round 4 of the Repecharge stream when the contest resumes.
Both South Africans surfed well enough to record double-digit heat totals but placed third in their heats with Wright ending behind Mick Campbell (AUS) and Alejandro Moreda (PRC) while du Toit was outscored by Drew Courtney (AUS) and Matias Mulanovich (PER).
Men’s Repecharge Round 1, where Guillermo Satt (CHI) upstaged his opponents by scoring the highest total of the day, 16.27 out of 20, was the only other round completed so Team SA remains one of 16 nations with all their competitors still in the race for honours.
However, with team captain Greg Emslie having dropped into Round 2 of the Repecharges on Thursday, the South Africans now have a real battle on their hands for team honours at the event. Defending team champions USA, Australia and hosts Peru all have three men among the last 16 in the Qualifying stream while Brazil has two in the division that contributes the highest scores towards the team total.
Competitors in the Repecharges have to compete in nearly twice as many heats as those who remain in the Qualifying rounds and have the constant threat of being eliminated from the event if they finish anywhere but first or second in each heat.
Surfline, the official surf forecasters for the event, predict that the surf will drop to more manageable proportions for Saturday. The organisers hope to run men’s Repecharge Rounds 2 and 3 at Senoritas, where SA’s Greg Emslie will be in action. Caballeros will host be the venue for longboard Qualifying Round 2, where Matthew Moir and Brad Weare will represent SA, starting at 3pm SA time.