Costa Rican surfer Noe Mar McGonagle impressed judges Wednesday with a pair of stellar rides, including a near-perfect backhand run at the Allianz Billabong Pro Cascais surf comp in Portugal. After scoring a 7.17 on an initial ride, McGonagle came back to land a 9.27 (out of 10) that catapulted him to a Heat 17 win and a spot in the second round of competition, which will resume Thursday.
McGonagle has dropped in the rankings in recent months and now sits at 33rd in the World Surf League’s Qualifying Series standings after having collected $19,200 in winnings. The 19-year-old rider from Pavones will have his hands full in the next round, as he goes up against three highly-qualified surfers, including Brazilian Caio Ibelli, who currently ranks as the fifth best surfer in the qualifying series.
Fellow Tico surfer Carlos “Cali” Muñoz was bounced from the first round of the tournament just a week after making it deep into the SATA Azores Pro competition at the Azores islands in Portugal. That previous performance shot Muñoz all the way up to 16th in the qualifying series rankings. In order to advance into the World Surf League’s Championship Tour, qualifiers need to rank in the top 10 by season’s end.
If Muñoz climbs into one of those top spots by the 2015 season’s last day on Dec. 6, he would be the first surfer from Spanish-speaking Latin America to be included in the championship tour. The tour features the sport’s biggest stars, including Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning.