Puerto Rico & South Africa fight for Masters World Title
The fourth day of the Porta del Sol ISA World Masters Surfing Championships were met with three to four feet rights breaking at Marías throughout the morning. On another sunny day, the Championship continued with the same heavenly setting and amplified camaraderie amongst competitors
From the initial 65 surfers that started the Championship, only 18 remain to battle it out in each of the three Divisions amongst the nine remaining heats. Through exemplary surfing six athletes have already ensured themselves a ticket to the big final through the main event: and include John McCarthy from South Africa and Wagner Pupo from Brazil in the Masters division, Magoo de la Rosa from Peru and David Malherbe from South Africa in the Grand Masters and Chris Knutsen and Rudi Plamboom, both from South Africa, in the Kahunas. After tirelessly going head to head over the past four days of competition these surfers have already secured a place at the winners circle.
Not only was it a key day to define the first place medalists, it was also integral in defining the position of the teams up to now. After two more repercharge rounds went into the water numerous countries got their athletes disqualified. The only nation that is left with all its surfers intact in the repercharge rounds were the local Puerto Rico team, followed by South Africa who only lost one athlete.
In the Kahunas division, which features surfers who are 45 years or older South African, Chris Knusten earned first place with a combined score of 16.00 points, fellow country man Rudi Plamboom took second echoing Knusten's typical smooth style. Both competitors beat Dominicans Robert Reid and Ariel Mendez.
Knutsen, who forged the path to the big final winning all his heats, said with excitement: “I think I’ve been doing enough to get through my heats, I won them all so far so I am very confident. My surfing is getting better at the right time and I'm going to give everything I have left before we fly back home. Now I can take a rest until Sunday, it looks it’s going to be pretty big."
In the Grand Masters division, the two surfers who obtained the best scores throughout the event were also the ones who guaranteed themselves a place in the final: Peruvian Magoo de la Rosa took first with South African David Malherbe in second. Tahitian Pascal Luciani was beaten into third with local Hector Gonzalez in fourth. Once again, the Peruvian posted the highest combined score of his division - 17.75 - by continuing to take advantage of his backside approach. De la Rosa scored 9.5 and 8.25 to ensure a place among the medalists.
“To tell you the truth, this heat was the toughest I had. That surfer from South Africa showed a great physical condition. He was as prepared as I was and it was hard for me to beat him. When I heard he had scored two waves with more than 8 points and I realized I just had an 8.2, he even told me to be calm because we were both making it. But my last wave was more than 9.00 points, before I rode it I told him I had one wave left and then I caught it. I only felt satisfied, when I heard I had scored a 9.5." De la Rosa said after getting out of the water.
As regards the next final, the seven-time Peruvian Champ added: “I’m really happy, I’m eager to win; I want to take the triumph to my country. I think I worked hard for the other divisions and a victory would be a good incentive to the young surfers".
In the Masters division, John McCarthy from South Africa reached the final undefeated along with Wagner Pupo from Brazil sending Heifara Tahutini and Noel Chave out to the repercharge on the third and fourth position respectively. One more time, McCarthy drew clean and radical lines to get a great scoring of 17.15 points.
Once out of the water, the South African said: “There were some funny waves in my heat, I was watching them all morning and then I was lucky to find them, I´m happy." Afterwards, talking about his chances to get the World Title, the South African modestly said: “To me, the most important things in my life are to spend time with my family and to surf; the fact that I’m here representing my country is just a bonus."
The repercharge rounds were tough. The excellent surfers that reached this stage of the championship fought their way out of the “life or death" heats. The local surfers did very well, since five out of the six athletes, who were already in the so-called “losers round", managed to stay in the event with excellent performances.
In the last heat of the day, the second of the Masters repercharge round four, Andre Malherbe from South Africa established the highest combined of the championship up to now with 18.00, after he rode two rights that scored more than 9.00 points in a smooth, clean and radical way. He beat Juan Ashton from Puerto Rico into second with Olivier Salvaire from France taking third.
Considering the predictions of swell for the next days, it’s been decided that the event will finish either this Saturday or Sunday. A powerful swell will be arriving from the northwest – perfect for Rincon - will act as the backdrop to determine the best Masters surfers of the world.