It was a crucial, exciting and difficult Day 5 in Costa de Caparica with four out of the five divisions competing today in the contest. Teams had a busy schedule of heats that took place in small 2 to 3 feet waves. Today set the pace between those countries that will be battling for the top of the rankings.
The usual suspects - Australia, USA, Brazil, South Africa and France - were joined by the sharp and consistent surfing of Costa Rica at the top of the list of current Overall Team Standings. The "Ticos" continued to gain the attention of everybody in the contest site, causing great upsets while advancing surfers into the final rounds.
ASP World Tour surfers, CJ Hobgood of USA and Kai Otton of Australia instilled a great deal of patriotism for their respective teams by scoring the highest scores of their rounds. Meanwhile, Ben Bourgeois' journey to the finals was greatly upset by Luis Vindas from Costa Rica.
The Main Event Women´s Open and Bodyboard Men´s semifinals were defined, as well as the Bodyboard Women's final. The event is entering the final leg of rounds with three days to find out who's going to be the next gold medal nation.
With Day 5 finished, the only country to have all of their surfers still competing in the contest is Brazil. Of the 233 surfers that started the event, there're now 114 remaining.
Leading and stealing the show
Australia, USA, Brazil, South Africa and France - the top five seeded nations are leading the show in this ISA World Surfing Games. However, following close behind, Costa Rica is proving their place to become a part of the final face-off. The upcoming surfing nation stole applauses today with two of their team members fighting to stay alive, getting through to next Main Event round and creating big upsets of the day.
Nataly Bernold, a 15 year old ripper, beat Camila Cassia of Brazil (second), Australian ASP World Tour surfer Claire Bevilacqua (third) and fellow Brazilian Barbara Muller (fourth). On the Men's side, the stylish, smooth and radical "Tico" Luis Vindas won his fourth round heat and sent World Tour star Ben Bourgeois from the USA to the repercharge.
Reflecting on what he had achieved in his heat, Vindas simply said: "This is what we came to do. We're just trying to place higher than the last time. I am focused and prepared to try to make it through all the heats I can." Now Vindas is one of the names on the short list of eight surfers who have completed four rounds undefeated.
World Tour stars scoring high
In onshore 2 to 3 feet mushy conditions, 2001 World Champion CJ Hobgood from the USA and Aussie World Tour pride Kai Otton had their chance to release their backside fury and win their respective heats. Otton came away with the highest combined score, 17.10 (8.83 and 8.00). Hobgood received the second best, 15.50 (9.00 and 6.50).
"The conditions that were pretty difficult, is the changing tide, so you can be surfing one part and the bank just changes. I was just patient and picked two nice waves that kind of peeled off and didn't close out," Otton said.
Hobgood, mirroring his Aussie rival, made great use of his strong backhand moves. He commented: "I think those were the toughest conditions of the week because the waves had been pretty fun. I was fortunate to have a late heat, with the tide coming up, which separated everyone. I tried to get my waves and see what happens. I got a good one and made it through".
Main Event Bodyboard Men and Women´s Open semifinals
After Round 3 of the main event of Bodyboard Men and Open Women, there are six surfers in each division who are now two steps away from medalling.
Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Camila Cassia (BRA) and Tarryn Chudleigh (ZAF) will fight in Semifinal #1, while Lauren Sweeney (USA), Nataly Bernold (CRI) and Marie Dejean (FRA) will meet in Semifinal #2.
As for the bodyboarders, the Portuguese had a great day with Gold and Silver medallists, Manuel Centeno and Hugo Pinheiro, respectively making it through together in the same heat. They will be joined by South Africans Sasha Specker and David Lee, Brazilian Marcus Lima and Japanese Hayato Enokido.
One step away from the podium
Bodyboard Women´s Natasha Sagardia (PRI), Heloise Bourroux (FRA), Rita Pires (POR) and Yasuko Kima (JAP) made it to the Main Event final and are now one win away from the Gold Medal.
SOURCE: World Surfing Games