Semifinalists Locked In at Vans Surf Open Acapulco pres. by Corona

Courtesy of WSL North America

  • Cleland Salvages Mexican Hopes 
  • Navarro Into His Fourth Finals Day Of 2019
  • Mel Keeps His Hopes of North America No. 1 Intact; Gordon Breaks Through to Semifinals
  • More Available At
CAPTION: Alan Cleland (MEX) notched the day’s highest single-wave score on this beautiful barrel ride to earn an 8.83.
CREDIT: © WSL / Nichols
PLAYA REVOLCADERO, Acapulco/Mexico (Saturday, July 13, 2019) – The swell made its way to Playa Revolcadero for the World Surf League (WSL) men’s Qualifying Series (QS) Vans Surf Open Acapulco QS 1,000 pres. by Corona and four-to-six foot, heavy beach break proved for a spectacle of competition. The field is now dwindled down to the final four competitors after finishing Round 4 and Quarterfinal affairs to set up a big finals day. The 1,000 points up for grabs can help each of the remaining surfers in their campaigns to solidify themselves in the higher-rated events and also, for three of them, a maiden QS victory.
Mexico’s last hope Alan Cleland delivered an incredible, clutch day of surfing that nudged him into his first-ever QS finals day. The Pascuales, Mexico, native spends plenty of time navigating barrels at home and used that knowledge today for an excellent 8.83 (out of a possible 10) barrel ride in his Quarterfinal heat against Sam Coffey (Santa Cruz, Calif.) to solidify a Semifinal appearance. Cleland, 17, has the opportunity to claim the first Surf Open Acapulco win for Mexico since the event’s inception in 2012 and has his focus locked on doing just that.
Caption: Cleland’s rail game was on point as well, notching a 7.17 in his Round 4 heat.
Credit: WSL/ Nichols

“I was sitting there and knew I needed a back up, and out of no where this set came so I knew I had to go,” Cleland said. “Luckily it had a corner to it and it worked out. I wasn’t expecting anything so thank you Mother Nature for that one. It’s great to mix it up a little bit between getting barreled which I get almost every day at home and I love getting to do good turns, especially when both happen in competitions (laughs). It would mean everything to make a Final here knowing it means a lot for the Mexicans and myself.”

Caption: John Mel’s strategy worked brilliantly and now finds himself in a great position heading into finals day. 
Credit: WSL/ Nichols

While Cleland looks to deliver the first win for Mexico, implications are on the line for current North America No. 4 John Mel (Santa Cruz, Calif.), Matheus Navarro (BRA), and Luke Gordon (Pawley’s Island, S.C.) as well. Mel came into this event as a longshot to overtake Noah Schweizer (New Smyrna Beach, Fla.) for the No. 1 spot on the North America rankings for a chance to enter the Vans US Open trials and he’s kept that ambition alive after defeating good friend and reigning North America Regional Pro Junior winner Tyler Gunter (Newport Beach, Calif.). The Santa Cruz, California, native looks for his first WSL win since the RVCA Pro Junior in 2017 and his first-ever QS victory.

“It’s really fun to surf a heat with Tyler, we’ve only had two heats together in Barbados where he beat me and Newport where I got him back so now I’ve got one up (laughs),” Mel said. “It’s pretty funny to surf against him again and this time in the real deal. I was just looking for two waves that would give you two turns but now it’s time to go a little bigger in the Semis. One of my goals coming here was to do well enough to get into the US Open trials and to make into the Semifinals helps my international rankings so now it’s time to try and make it one more for even more points.”

Caption: Navarro asking all the questions with another heat win to extend his undefeated track record at this year’s event after coming out of a momentum-changing barrel ride in Round 4.
Credit: WSL/ Nichols

Brasil’s Navarro is currently having a year any QS competitor would relish in. The 26-year-old enters his fourth finals day of 2019 in search of a fourth win to his name which would help secure a place in the QS 10,000s heading into the back-half of the season. The Brasilian adjusted his game plan to near-perfection from yesterday’s airshow to today’s barrel and turn-heavy performances in his win over Shaun Burns (Santa Cruz, California) during a hard-fought Quarterfinal.

“My last time in Acapulco I finished in the Quarterfinals and I’m so happy to pass that today,” Navarro said. “Now it’s time to focus on the next heat because I want to make the Final really bad for the points since I’m dropping a low result. The waves were so good today and you had to go to more turns and look for barrels instead of yesterday when everyone was throwing big airs. I’m really excited for tomorrow and putting on a good show in the Semifinals.”

Caption: Gordon continues his search for vital points toward the back-half of his 2019 season.
Credit: WSL/ Nichols
Another competitor on the cusp of making it into the QS 10,000s after the cut-off is Gordon, currently No. 114 on the QS rankings. This marks the South Carolinian’s second year on the QS full-time and he’s already finding his comfort zone among the elite. Appearances in Europe, Australia, and Japan, to name a few, continue to give him the confidence in a jersey and the 19-year-old is beginning to show his potential as a threat to the experienced QS contingent such as Jeremy Carter (San Clemente, Calif.) who he took down in the Quarterfinals.
“I’m right at the cut line so I needed that one and need to finish strong now,” Gordon said. “I was just trying to find anything I could go on out there and I’m just winging it really (laughs). But, I’m having fun which is what it’s all aboutIt’s crazy how different it is being my second year here and how much more relaxed I am at these events. After spending the first half of the year around the world for the QS I’ve noticed the little things that I’m more comfortable with and also the experience it’s giving me, I can feel it.”
Event organizers will reconvene at 9:00am CDT for a 9:30am CDT start to Semifinal action.
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The Vans Surf Open Acapulco pres. by Corona will run July 12 -14 at Playa Revolcadero, Acapulco, Mexico, in front of the Princess Imperial Hotel.
About the WSL  The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The organization, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe. The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running more than 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed Men’s and Women’s World Champions across all tours. Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, John Florence, Lakey Peterson, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Steven Sawyer, Soleil Errico, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most dynamic field of play of any global sport. For more information, please visit

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