Rip Curl Pro Argentina
World Surf League QS1500 Men's Event
Mar del Plata, Argentina
25 - 28 March 2016
Nakagima from Brazil beat Leandro Usuna from Argentina in the final
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 27 March, 2016 - Flavio Nakagima (BRA) defeated Leandro Usuana (ARG) by a score of 16.66 to 13.90 in front of a teeming crowd at Playa Grande in Mar del Plata to prevail at the 2016 Rip Curl Argentina Pro QS 1500. With his victory, Nakagima took home U$ 8,000 in prize money and 1,500 QS Ranking points. In addition Nakagima earned an extra 1,000 points, which placed him atop the WSL South America Regional Rankings.
Nakagima was by far the standout surfer of the event, placing high scores in every round, including a 9.00 on Thursday, and topped it off by obtaining the highest heat total of the event in the Finals (16.66) by catching two waves scoring an 8.33.
"I’m so happy, I can’t even believe it. Today was incredible and unforgettable for me," declared Nakagima. "This is my fourth time competing at this contest. I was injured during the past two, and I even promised myself that I wouldn’t come back. But I changed my mind and decided to give it one more shot. Thankfully this time I was at 100% physically thanks to everyone at Personal Boards, who helped me out during the off-season. It’s good I had all that preparation because I did a lot of paddling and a bunch of consecutive heats. I’m so stoked I won."
To the dismay of the crowd that filled the sand at the jetty known as Biologia, Usuna was not able to live up to expectations as he succumbed to the Brazilian in the Final. Usuna also made history becoming the first Argentinian to make it to the Finals at the inaugural event of the 2016 WSL South America Surfing Season. With his Runner-Up finish, Usuna received U$ 4,000 and 1,125 QS Ranking points.
"It feels incredible to be in the Final in front of such an amazing crowd," said Usuna. "I’ve never felt this way before. It’s like being an important player in the middle of a soccer match. I’m so stoked. It’s too bad that I didn’t win, but I’m not a sore loser. I felt like I surfed well despite the difficult conditions. There are so many good surfers from Brazil, so I knew there’d be someone in the Finals. But they’re all my friends. I’ve been competing for years against them. I’ve known Flavio for 5 years. He’s the first Brazilian I met when I went to compete at the Pro Junior in 2009. Thank you to all my sponsors, to my family and to everyone here that supported me."
When asked about what it takes for the next generation of Argentinean surfers to make it onto the international circuit, Usuna had this to say:
"To all the groms, you need to have dedication, patience and be motivated. Not because you have to, but because you want to. I love surfing and competing. It’s important to train hard and travel to different surf spots like Peru, Chile and Hawaii if you get the chance. But being stoked for surfing is the most important," concluded Usuna.
On his way to the Finals, Nakagima began the day by advancing alongside Jacob Wilcox (AUS), in Round 4. In Heat 2 of the Quarterfinals, Nakagima took out Wesley Santos (BRA), one of the latest up-and-coming surfers from Brazil. In Heat 1 of the Semifinals, Nakagima once again faced Wilcox, this time overcoming the Australian by a score of 11.53 to 11.13 respectively.
On the other side of the draw, Usuna advanced in 2nd place behind Marcos Correa (BRA) in Round 4. In the Quarterfinals, Usuna beat Messias Felix (BRA) handily by a score of 14.83 to 11.13 before facing Correa again in the Semis - this time defeating the Brazilian by a close score of 12.73 to 12.10.
In one of the most anticipated heats of the day, two explosive surfers, Wilcox and Dylan Lighfoot (ZAF), traveled from the other side of the planet to face each other in Heat 1 of the Quarterfinals. Unfortunately, conditions were not ideal as the wind and tide hindered scoring opportunity. Wilcox eliminated Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF). The young South African showed smooth surfing throughout the event, but the Australian had the edge by a score of 13.46 to 9.63.
By winning the 2016 World Surf League Rip Curl Argentina Pro QS 1500, Nakagima became the fourth consecutive Brazilian to win the event. In 2013, Jihad Kohdr (BRA) took top honors in the first edition, followed by Alex Ribeiro (BRA) in 2014 and Robson Santos (BRA) in 2015. Both Ribeiro and Santos went on to become the WSL South America Regional Champions in their respective years.
In regards to the updated QS Rankings: Wilcox jumped from 54th up to 28th on Qualifying Series, Correa catapulted from 378th to 123rd, Nakagima went from 206th to 44th, and Usuna leapt from 132nd to 45th. Only the top 10 surfers on the QS Rankings at the end of the year will be entitled to make it onto the 2017 WSL Samsung Galaxy World Tour.