Heath Walker leads opening rounds of Vans El Ponto Loco

The Inaugural Vans El Ponto Loco kicked off today in clean two-to-four foot (1 metre conditions). The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) 2-Star event saw the completion of Round 1 and the first eight heats of Round 2.

Heath Walker.  Copyright: Brent HillemannThe Vans El Ponto Loco marks the sixth of nine ASP WQS events held in North America, offering valuable ratings points to all surfers striving towards qualification for the coveted ASP World Tour. Today’s early rounds offered no shortage of excitement, with standout performances from Heath Walker (Paradise, AUS/Carlsbad, CA), 33, Ted Navarro (Huntington Beach, CA), 28, Rylan McCart (Melbourne Beach, FL), 22, and Brandon Guilmette (Huntington Beach, CA), 25. Each surfer posted their high scores on the lefts on offer at Ponto, Beach.

Walker dropped the day’s highest single wave score of a near-perfect 9.60 out of a possible 10 by issuing a series of committed backhand snaps on a lefthander in his Round 1 heat. The regular-footer followed up with a 7.75 on another left for the day’s highest heat total of 17.35 out of a possible 20 point score, placing his fellow competitors in a combination situation.

McCart, who has recently moved to Dana Point, California from Florida, used his familiarity of the typically windy conditions on offer in Florida to his advantage as the wind increased this afternoon. The goofy-footer posted the day’s second highest heat total of 15.25 out of a possible 20 point score with an explosive forehand attack on two lefts to advance into Round 3.

Guilmette posted an impressive 9.25 out of a possible 10 in his Round 2 heat, the second highest single wave score of the day. Guilmette earned the high score on a long lefthander, which offered maximum scoring potential.

The Huntington Beach local surfed Ponto in his amateur career and put his knowledge of the wave to good use today for his heat win.

Navarro, who advanced through two heats today by posting one of the highest heat totals of 14.60 out of a possible 20 point score in Round 1, put on a solid show despite the windy conditions on offer in the afternoon. Navarro, also a Huntington Beach local, will look to carry his momentum on to Round 3.

Tomorrow will see today’s standouts tackle the event’s top seeds with the completion of Round 2 and Round 3. Day two of competition will begin at 8am standard time.

Billabong Girls Pro Rio 2008.  Copyright: ASP Cestari
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