Benoit Clemente: local star

Under a thick blanket of fog and mist, the second day of competition at the Billabong ISA World Games presented by Amarok of Volkswagen went down in fine fashion at Punta Hermosa breaks in Peru today. After a stellar start in the long, playful lefts of Day One, the sun strained this morning to reveal a macking swell that tested the international contingency with well-overhead conditions. Less than half a mile down the beach at Pico Alto the wave faces were pushing 40 feet.

Belted all day by a powerful southwest swell today, the competition at Hermosa’s two breaks (Señoritas and Caballeros) was fierce.

Although the constant crush of huge breakers kept the competitors from scoring as high as they might otherwise have, the action was non-stop and the size added to the excitement and degree of difficulty. Some surfers were looking forward to the potential of even bigger waves tomorrow.

“We didn’t come here to ride small fat mush, said one of the top riders from the Canadian team, who are all now in the repercharge heats and looking for a way to advance back to the qualifying round. “We’re used to riding big junky pumping point surf. We are ready for the swell and can’t wait for tomorrow!”

In the bigger surf that sometimes resembled a washing machine, both the men and women managed big drops and often found speed and clean lines way into the insides where they were often nearly out of sight range of the judges. Local favorite Matias Mulanovich got through his heat, and Christobal de Col kept the Peruvian team’s dream alive as the dark horse team moved closer to a top potential finish. Likewise Brazilian Alan Jhones, Panamanian Gary Saavedra and Frenchman Vincent Duvignac advanced for their country along with UK’s Micah Lester, and Costa Rican Isaaic Vega while Ecuador Venezuela, and New Zealand remain threats if they can advance from the repercharge tomorrow.

The consensus on standout performances were from South African Chad de Tiot who had some of the highest scores of the day, Mexico’s Miguel Trujillo who took down some heavy Latin competition. Argentina’s Leandro Ursuna and Puerto Rican Alejandro Moreda also won handily against strong foes.

Of the standouts that managed to advance today, both the American and Australian teams put on strong showings with one-time World Tour surfer Drew Courtney (Aus) highlighting the day by dropping the highest heat score at Senoritas with a combined total of 14 points. South Africa remains a serious contender with most of the team advancing as well.

On the women’s side, UK‘s Sarah Beardmore, Australia’s Rebecca Woods, Japan’s Tashiro Nagise and Anali Gomez from Peru were notable both for their tenacity and grace under pressure. And in some cases their surprising confidence: “I’m happy because I made it to the third round, as Sofia did”, said an elated Anali Gomez of Peru. “The swell is larger now and there’s a super-strong current. It’s difficult out there, but as locals we know how the beach works and where to position ourselves. My objective now is getting into the final and winning the World Championship.” That’s confidence with a capital C.

For the Americans, all four of their surfers managed to advance today with San Clemente’s Trevor Thornton leading the charge with a heat win in one of the day’s final match-ups.

“There weren’t really too many waves until the 8-minute mark in my heat and I got lucky and was able to get a good one,” said Thornton after the heat. “I think it’s really cool to represent the USA, I’m the youngest one on the men’s team and I really like it.” “It’s never this big at home. I don’t think I’ve surfed waves this big in California in at least three years.”

Although just like yesterday the Australians were the visual standouts, once again Team USA quietly won all of their heats for the day - with no fanfare.

“The team was nervous about Trevor before his heat,” one observer noted, “but he went out there and smashed it.”

Source: ISA World Surfing Games