It was an amazing afternoon of big surf for the Squalo Trials in Mexico today, setting up an exciting and highly anticipated start to this year’s Rip Curl Pro Search WCT.
Puerto Escondido surfer Oscar Moncada (age 22) is celebrating tonight after winning today’s Trials contest and earning a Wildcard entry into the main event.
He will also etch his name into the history books as being Mexico’s first ever surfer to compete a World Tour event.
Greeted by barreling 4-6ft waves this morning, Moncada and the 15 other local Mexican trialists met with Rip Curl staff at the secret ‘La Jolla’ contest site at 9am (local Mexico time). After going over the Trials contest format with officials and the ASP Judges, competition eventually got underway with a 4-man heat format.
After two rounds of ’round-robin’ heats, the eight surfers with the highest combined point score were split into two semi-finals.
Moncada, David Rutherford (Puerto Escondido), Manuel Trujillo (Acapulco) and Kalle Carranza (Nayarit) advanced through to Semi-Final 1, with Raul Noyola (Puerto Escondido), Diego Cadena (Nayarit), Uziel Molina (La Jolla) and Angelo Lozano (Puerto Escondido) all scoring a place in Semi-Final 2.
Rutherford was the favorite to win Semi 1 after easily winning both of his ’round-robin’ heats. He started strong and eventually finished with an 11-point two wave combined score, but it was Moncada who won the heat with 12.60 points. Both surfers advanced to the final, knocking out Carranza and Trujillo.
In Semi 2, Raul Noyola scored the highest heat score of the day (15.57 points) to win the heat and advance to the final. Diego Cadena made it through placing second, while Molina and Lozano were eliminated.
The final hit the water at 4.30pm and offered the remaining four surfers only one opportunity to score a coveted Wildcard entry into the Rip Curl Pro Search WCT main event.
Both Moncada and Cadena started strong, posting high first wave scores of 8.67 and 8.50 points respectively. Rutherford and Noyola failed to find the rhythm they had in the early rounds and when Moncada nailed a 7.50 ride late in the heat the final contest was over.
Moncada was very happy with his win today and looks forward to his Rip Curl Pro Search WCT challenge.
“I am so happy and so proud, he said shortly after the final. “I just wanted to have a lot of fun, because the waves were very good all day. I have trained hard for this and am very happy to get the Wildcard.
“It is going to be hard, continued Moncada when asked about facing 7-time world champion Kelly Slater in Round 1. “He is my favorite surfer and I am happy to surf against him. Hopefully I will beat him.
Although Slater is still yet to arrive in Mexico, a large number of the world’s Top 45 ranked surfers were at ‘La Jolla’ throughout the day, freesurfing early this morning and then watching the Trials contest.
One of the surfers looking in hot form this morning was defending Rip Curl Pro Search WCT champion Mick Fanning, who surfed for roughly an hour on a borrowed board before the Trials started.
Fanning arrived in Mexico yesterday evening, fresh off his successful film premiere in Orange Country. The film, titled ‘Mick, Myself & Eugene’, captures Mick’s emphatic return from injury last season.
The official Rip Curl Pro Search WCT Media Conference will be held at Las Brisas Hotel in Huatulco tomorrow morning. The swell forecast looks great for early this week, so organizers are confident of starting the event on Tuesday, June 20.