Urbiztondo Beach, San Juan / Philippines (Wednesday, January 25, 2023) – Urbiztondo Beach has come to life on Day 6 of the La Union International Pro Qualifying Series (QS) 3,000 event with the point turning on clean three-to-four foot surf. With one day left in the window the stage has been set for Finals Day with the women’s Semifinalists and men’s Quarterfinalists being decided during competition today.
Fresh off the biggest win of his career in the longboard division, Rogelio Jr Esquievel (PHL) has now shifted his focus to winning the QS event here at La Union. The local legend progressed through the Round of 32 into the Round of 16 where he was up against the ropes, needing a score with only two minutes left. After breaking his board and getting washed in, Esquievel found a wide wave and smashed two massive backside turns to post a 7.50 (out of a possible 10) and take the heat win.
“There was a lot of pressure on me in that heat,” said Esquievel. “First I snapped my board, then I had to come all the way back in then get all the way back out so I was chasing from behind the entire time. Once I got back I was sitting wide to catch my breath and that is where that wave popped up for me. It gave me two great sections and I was able to post my best score. I’m having so much fun this week and want to keep it going.”
Japan’s Joh Azuchi (JPN) was another standout on Day 6, posting a near excellent 7.75, the highest single wave score of the day, on his way to the Semifinals. Azuchi was rewarded for his trademark speed and finesse as he looks for a breakthrough QS result here in the Philippines.
“The waves are really good today but it is still hard to know which ones to pick,” Azuchi said. “Some sets, the smaller ones are better, and some the bigger ones are, which is confusing. I’m stoked to be in the Quarterfinals here in the Philippines, I’m loving my time here in La Union.”
The opening heat of the women’s Quarterfinals was one to watch as event standouts Sara Wakita (JPN) and Minami Nonaka (JPN) went head-to-head on the point. Both surfers displayed power and flow on the long walls but it was Nonaka who found a score late to take the lead and the win, leaving Wakita’s run to end with an equal fifth.
“It was quite tricky out there but I got the right waves that broke well and got the scores I needed so I’m so happy,” Nonaka said. “Sara (Wakita) had been posting some of the best scores all week so it felt good to overcome her. I’m excited and confident leading into the Finals Day.”
Event directors will reconvene tomorrow morning at 7:00 am local time to make another call on the commencement of competition with event winner’s to be crowned by days end.
The 2023 La Union International Pro QS 3,000 and LQS 1,000 will run at The Point, Urbiztondo Beach in La Union, Philippines, from January 20 – 26. For more information head to worldsurfleague.com