Nilbie Blancada made waves after winning her heat and advancing to Round 2 of the 2021 ISA World Surfing Games held in El Salvador, Monday morning (Manila time).
The 28-year-old, who won the shortboard event of the 30th Southeast Asian Games, sneaked in a huge 6.13 wave at the final minute to deny Japan’s Amuro Tzusuki the win in Heat 12 and advanced into the following round with the momentum.
The two surfers virtually had their respective progression in the bag as the third competitor in Barbados’ Gabrielle Gittens ended with a total of 4.13.
The Japanese pulled off a 6.83 to pad on to the advantage with almost two minutes left. Nonetheless, Blancada had other plans and took the lead and, eventually, the win.
John Mark Tokong and Edito Alcala Jr. made it two-out-of-two for the day for the men’s side as they both made it into the next round.
Tokong, the SEA Games bronze medalist in shortboard, struggled at the start of his heat, but eventually caught a surge and got on the board with 4.67. He then followed it up with a 5.00 to move into second place behind Anthony Fillingim of Costa Rica.
The 24-year-old then consolidated his spot into the next phase with a heat-best 6.90, ending Sweden’s Grayson Grant’s hopes of taking that spot in his stead.
Alcala Jr., on his part, also figured out in a tight battle for the other Round 2 berth as Australian Ryan Callinan effectively etched his name into the next phase with a huge 7.67 in one of his waves.
Callinan, who just dropped a 6.07 in his last wave, then gave up his priority to Alcala.
The four-time Siargao International champion took advantage of it to get on the board, before eventually closing out with a total of 8.84 and breaking out of the three-way battle among him and Dominican Republic’s Saori Perez and Sweden’s Cristian Portelli.
Vea Estrellado, 17, rounded up Team Pilipinas’ campaign for the day, finishing third in Heat 5 and making it to the Repechage 1. She barely missed Round 2 by 0.77, as Chelsea Roett of Barbados joined USA’s Alyssa Spencer into the next round.
The two remaining surfers in the contingent, SEA Games longboard silver medalist Rogelio Esquievel Jr. and SEA Games double bronze medalist Daisy Valdez, and will make their first run in the Central American paradise on Monday.
The tournament has one Olympic ticket at stake for each event.