Nilbie Blancada didn’t catch a big wave in the late afternoon women’s heats, but she still managed to hold her own again Europe’s top bet Leticia Canales Bilbao.
The 29-year-old Blancada, a gold medallist in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, placed second behind Canales-Bilbao, in the second round of the 2021 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games short board action in El Salvador.
With the swells going below six feet in the afternoon, Blancada tallied a decent 6.53 points to become the only Filipino bet to reach the third round with an unblemished record.
Canales-Bilbao, a 13-year veteran from Spain, racked up 9.33 points to take the lead, with world no. 45 Rheanne Rosenbaum of Canada in third with 6.16 points.
Despite Blancada’s low score, she remained on course for an Olympic qualification slot in the women’s action.
National team officials said Filipino surfers had a tough day, with waves not picking up to ideal heights of more than 6 feet for most of the day.
So far, Filipe Toledo continued his strong showing for Team Brazil, which saw his teammates Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira, and Tatiana Weston-Webb also advancing to the third round.
Toledo earned the highest heat total with 17.7 points.
John Mark Tokong, the highest-ranking Filipino surfer in the world tour, was among four Filipinos, who were eliminated from the heats and relegated to the repechage rounds.
Repechage allows surfers to get a second chance to advance to the Grand Finals via another route. Surfers who lose in the repechage event are eliminated.
Ferreira, ranked no. 2 in the World Surfing League this year, topped Heat 43 in the men’s division (13.93), with Asia’s no. 2 and 2019 SEA Games silver medallist Rio Waida of Indonesia in second with 12.26 points.
Tokong, who is 49th in the WSL’s Asian rankings, settled for third with 6.57.
“Si Tokong, medyo nalamangan siya sa experience ni Italo at Rio sa wave selection,” said team members in a message to the Manila Standard.
Also relegated to the repechage rounds were Edito Alcala Jr. and Rogelio Esquivel Jr. in the men’s side and Daisy Valdez in the women’s action.
Alcala placed third behind British bet Stanley Norman and Joan Duru.