Day 2 of the Prozis Pro Junior Espinho unfolded in a wind-affected fading swell, but conditions remained contestable all-day allowing women's quarterfinalists to be decided and half of the men's second round to run.
Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 19, made it worthwhile for the numerous beachgoers to keep watching the competition right until sunset, with a stellar performance in the very last heat of the day, netting a near-perfect 9.33, and quickly backing it up with another solid score.
"I chose a medium one but it had a lot of wall to it and I was able to do a few good turns," Gonzalez said. "I'm second on the rankings right now and I definitely want to go one better, so a lot of pressure right now but I'm ready, feeling confident and I'll take it heat by heat."
Portugal's Guilherme Fonseca (PRT) 18, produced a strong performance as well with a solid display of power surfing on his backhand to collect excellent scores and net an impressive 16.23 total.
"It was fun, this priority system in four-man heats is so cool, you don't have to battle for the waves anymore and everyone gets equal chances," Fonseca said. "I've been training hard and I'm happy with my surfing, hopefully I can keep going and do even better in the next one."
In constant progression for the past three years, Fonseca builds momentum and will be looking to finish with a bang in his last year amongst the Junior contingent.
"Unfortunately this is my last junior season with the change in age limit," Fonseca continued. "But I've finished school now and I'm happy that I can focus 100% on competition now and maybe give the QS tour a try next year."
Current European Top 3 resident Lens Arancibia Avila (FRA) 17, also made a great first impression for his opening performance in Espinho. Only opting to surf five waves in the 25-minute exchange, Arancibia Avila scored high on each wave to build momentum and rack up a solid14.23 heat total.
"My strategy of selecting the right waves turned out really well, I got a good score to start with and continued to build throughout the heat," Arancibia Avila stated. "I'm serious about trying to be consistent for the whole season, and my goal would be to finish in the Top4. It needs more work, more training and a little added pressure but it's fun. I've watched a lot of guys the previous years and I feel like I have the cards to make it happen."
In the women's draw it was defending event champion Tessa Thyssen (BLM) 18, that caught the better waves and exploited multiple sections to score high. Powerful on her forehand, Thyssen composed with a tricky lineup to link good maneuvers and advance to the quarterfinals.
"I didn't want to push too hard on my turns, but rather tried to surf smart and link a couple waves together nicely," Thyssen explained. "We were the first heat post-break so I was in the water a long time before the heat started and I had time to get comfy in the lineup. I'm proud to be representing St Barthelemy now, it's where I'm from and I'd like people to know more about the island so I'll be a good ambassador hopefully."
One of the day's highlights was a Round 2 win by Israeli surfer Anat Lelior (ISR) 15. Lelior, who has just competed in a handful of events in her young career, managed to tie with Thyssen on the highest single-wave score of the event so far, an excellent 8.50. Lelior later went on to qualify for the quarters, advancing ahead of current European NÂ°3 Kim Veteau (GLP).
"Feels great to get my first win," Lelior admitted. "I found a good wave and did two manoeuvers but I never thought that would be an 8.. I train a lot for this, both in and out of the water. It's a bit harder in Israel cause the conditions are not as consistent, but we do get some fun waves in Tel Aviv where I train mostly and the rest of the time is dedicated to physio."
Leticia Canales Bilbao (EUK) 20, made a successful return to competition after a recurring ligament injury kept her out of the water for the best part of the past ten months.
"The tide wasn't ideal and more lefts were breaking than rights, but that's alright I still had fun," Canales said. "I'm taking it easy this year, I want to have fun above all and I don't concentrate on the end result so much, I'm not feeling at 100% just yet."
Event officials will reconvene at 7:15AM on Saturday morning for a potential early start on the low tide.