As Nilbie Blancada got stuck in white waves and dropped out of contention in the regular rounds, 18-year-old newbie Vea Estrellado stepped on Day 3 in the women’s shortboard competition of the 2021 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games.
The 29-year-old Blancada struggled and lost precious time in picking her way out of a break under afternoon low tide conditions off El Sunzal during Heat 51 in Round 3.
As Blancada paddled her way out of the low tides, Estrellado, who placed third in the Philippine shortboard national championships recently, emerged as the highest-scoring Filipino entry this time around.
Because of her situation, Blancada, a 2019 Southeast Asian Games gold medallist, settled for fourth place and joined six other teammates in the repechage rounds.
This means that Blancada and her teammates in the Philippine national squad will have to survive the coming 10 rounds in order to gain a spot meant for Asian qualifiers in the Tokyo Olympics.
“Everyone is now in the repechage rounds. So every heat is now do-or-die for them. Kung matalo, laglag na,” said national coach Ian Saguan in a message to the Manila Standard.
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.
Germany’s Noah Klapp took top honors in Heat 51 with 10.73 points and advanced to Round 4, with Estela Lopez of Chile behind with 9.37 points and Israel’s Anat Lelior in third (8.83). Blancada managed to pick 7.33 points for fourth.
Meanwhile, luck was on the side of Estrellado, who picked up a good wave measuring six feet, garnering a total score of 12 points in Heat 67 of the first round of the women’s repechage.
Estrellado, who is from Gubat, Sorsogon, was behind American Samoa bet Lucille Jarrard and ahead of Guam’s Karin Lone.
“This is her first international meet and she’s having a very interesting competition,” added Saguan.
Estrellado will have a faceoff with Indonesia’s Kailani Johnson, who is the 11th Asian on the World Surfing League in the second round.
And Estrellado needs to stand her ground against Johnson because Indonesia is also in contention for an Olympic qualifying seat for Asia.
Venezuela’s Rosanny Alvarez earned the women’s event-high heat total of 17.57 with two beautiful rides down the long point of El Sunzal.
Spain’s Nadia Erostarbe and USA’s Alyssa Spencer also impressed among the women to avoid elimination, earning heat totals of 16.84 and 16, respectively.