By: Ellen Zoe Golden Photo by: John Ferguson WSL
After her silver medal 2nd place at the VISSLA International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Junior Championship in Hyuga, Japan at the beginning of last month, Pavones’ Leilani McGonagle went to Punta de Lobos Peru and won her first World Surf League (WSL) Qualifying Series (QS) event, the Maui and Sons Pichilemu Women’s Pro presented by Royal Guard. The 17-year-old made her way to that podium by scorching the Australian Freya Prumm, who had been leading most of the heat. Needing a little over 8 points, McGonagle delivered her second perfect 10-point turn-to-turn ride of the day, the first coming earlier in the day during the semifinals. McGonagle not only earned $10,000 with that win, but moved up 15 spots in the QS Women’s ranking to 32 out of all 388 athletes on that chart.
“I came in second place at this event last year, so my goal was to do even better this year,” said McGonagle. “The waves have been so great and there isn’t another QS contest that has better waves than here. All of the girls are surfing so well and I’m just stoked to win this Final against a good friend like Freya. This is the first QS event I’ve ever won, so it feels incredible. I hope I get the chance to feel like this a lot more times. It’s out of this world.”
Regarding the final 10-point ride: “Wow, I had gotten a wave before but I didn’t know the score, but I was really nervous because I knew there wasn’t a lot of time left in the heat. I knew I had to go regardless and once I dropped in, the wall just opened up and it was such an amazing wave, I felt like I was at home.”
McGonagle’s 18.03 final heat total was the highest of the event. This came after she scored another 10.00 in Heat 2 of the semifinals against Daniela Rosas (PER). In that heat, McGonagle opened up with a 7.83 on a long left. She followed by catching an incredible wave which she completely destroyed, including a snap between the exposed rocks on the inside section for a perfect 10-point ride.
Leilani’s brother, Noe Mar, did pretty well himself in September at the Anfaplace Pro Casablanca in Morocco where he ended up in the semifinals with Rafael Teixeira of Brazil. The WSL noted that McGonagle was “the form surfer all week,” but he was unable to hold on in that heat, and ended with a 4th place finish overall in the contest. After a Round 4 stop at the EDP Billabong Pro Cascais in Portugal later that month, he stands at 45 on the Men’s QS rankings.
In just 30 days, Tamarindo’s Tomas King stormed up the QS rankings 200 points due to back to back performances. It began for him as a semifinalist at the Vans Pro QS3000 in Virginia Beach, Virginia, a showing that moved him from 265 to 138th. A perfect 10 wave in Round 2 of the WRV Outer Banks Pro in Nags Head, North Carolina, led the way for his quarterfinals finish.
However, King’s showmanship shined at the Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup in the Philipines. In the 35-minute final, he led most of the heat before Brazil’s Raoni Monteiro scored higher in the dying minutes.
Falling just short was not an issue for 21-year-old King who surfed an incredible event and will leave the Philippines with his best QS result to date,” said the WSL about his 2nd place finish.
“This is the best place I’ve been in my life,” King said, who is now ranked at 79. “It is beautiful and the waves are sick, I’ve had an amazing week. This is by far my best result so I’m just happy to surf in a final, especially with a former CT surfer like Raoni. He was surfing so well and I’m really stoked for him that he won.”
VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Results:
|ISA Aloha Cup (Tag Team Relay):
Gold – Japan
1 (Gold) – USA
2 (Silver) – Hawaii
3 (Bronze) – Japan
4 (Copper) – Australia
5 – France
6 – Brazil
7 – Costa Rica
8 – Argentina
9 – Portugal
10 – New Zealand