Back-to-back QS 10,000 contests make the beginning of May a major opportunity for all the surfers hoping to add to their qualification résumés. Filipe Toledo took the first title Saturday by winning the Oakley Lowers Pro in California. Not all the top seeds from that stacked field made the trip to Itauna, Brazil for this week’s Quiksilver Pro Saquarema, but a large number of Championship Tour regulars are there to try to bolster their Qualifying Series numbers.
One of those is Sebastian Zietz, who didn’t pick up a keeper result at Lowers with a first-round elimination. Zietz hasn’t needed his QS result to re-qualify the past two seasons, but he has always kept a healthy QS schedule just in case. These QS 10,000 events give the most incentive and any deep result can swiftly propel a competitor up the rankings.
Zietz is scheduled to go up against Mitch Coleborn and Conner Coffin in the opening round. It’s one of the tougher draws of the first round, but the top two move on to the Round of 48.
Dusty Payne hasn’t had much luck on the CT so far this year but he cruised all the way to the semifinals at Lowers and will look for another big result starting today. He takes on American Tim Reyes, Spain’s Aritz Aranburu and Aussie Cahill Bell-Warren in round one. Payne was the standout from the Hawaii group last week, which had an uncharacteristically poor event. Just three of the 11 surfers from the Aloha State made it to round three.
One of those three was Payne’s Maui island mate Tanner Hendrickson, who has another good chance to advance in a heat against Costa Rica’s Carlos Munoz, Guadeloupe’s Charly Martin and American Luke Davis. Hendrickson has had a busy season already and sits 39th in the QS world rankings.
Oahu’s Freddy Patacchia has entered more QS contests over the past four to five years and he’ll give this one another go after a third-round exit at Lowers. Currently 24th in the CT standings and 26th in the QS, Patacchia has a loaded opening heat. He’ll be very familiar with Mason Ho and former world tour rider Dion Atkinson, but that trio has to also contend with local Messias Felix.
CT rookie Keanu Asing is the fourth Hawaii world tour competitor in the field with only John John Florence electing not to participate and focus on next week’s Oi Rio Pro. Asing has a workable draw in round one as he faces Aussies Brent Dorrington and Thomas Woods, along with Costa Rica’s Noe Mar McGonagle.
Torrey Meister, Granger Larsen and Ezekiel Lau complete the Hawaii crew, all three hoping to pull a few early upsets to lock in a solid result. Lau has had the most consistent season to date and sits in 19th place on the QS rankings thanks to a third-round appearance at Lowers. Improving upon that result could vault him to top 10 bubble status.
Brazil’s Wiggolly Dantas will be looking to defend his 2014 Saquarema Pro title in his home country. He’ll get started against fellow local Deivid Silva, France’s Maxime Huscenot and Reunion Island’s Medi Veminardi.
Other top seeds from the CT include Ace Buchan, Matt Wilkinson, Italo Ferreira, Alejo Muniz, Glenn Hall, Jadson Andre, Brett Simpson, Adam Melling, Matt Banting, Ricardo Christie and Jeremy Flores, who finished runner-up at Lowers.
The Saquarema waiting period began Tuesday but officials held off on starting the first round. They will re-evaluate for a Wednesday start at 8 a.m. local time (1 a.m. HT). Action will be carried live from Itauna, which is seven hours ahead, on Oceanic Surf Channels 250 and 1250.