The Basque Country's Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) and Ariane Ochoa (EUK) have won the Prozis Pro Junior Espinho in fun 2-to-3-foot waves at Praia de Baia. As part of the event's effort to encourage women's surfing, the winners will receive an equal prize purse of $2,000 as well as 1,000 points towards their European Junior Tour (JT) rankings.
Gonzalez was dominant from Day 1 of competition, winning six consecutive heats to claim his first Junior event title in 2015. The powerful goofyfooter made a risky decision to sit away from his competitors and surf a peak nobody had optioned and it paid off.
"I saw a couple of good lefts before the Final, but I paddled out in the main peak not to reveal it," Gonzalez said. "Then I moved away and thankfully Charly (Quivront) didn't follow me. I feel quite lucky cause he only needed an average score and he's so good he could have had it easy."
Taking the No. 1 position on the European Junior rankings, Gonzalez is brimming with confidence heading into his homebreak of Sopela for Stop No. 3 of 5 on the men's tour.
"I had a lot of pressure coming here in second place and with the general level of everyone being so high," Gonzalez continued. "But now I'm in the lead and I'm stoked to go and compete at my home beachbreak next. Right now I feel super motivated and I'll make sure that doesn't transform into pressure as the event approaches."
An exciting surfer to watch throughout the whole event, Charly Quivront (FRA) couldn't maintain his level of performance in the Final and, despite valiant efforts to overtake Gonzalez, the young Frenchman finished second.
"It was a great event for me," Quivront said. "I got here super late from California and was a bit tired so to make the Final is awesome. That's my best result so far and I hope I get some more. The Final was a bit frustrating 'cause there weren't as many waves as before but I'm still super happy with my performance."
In the women's competition, Ochoa blasted through the final day of competition, ultimately wining the Final by putting her opponent, Portugal's Carol Henrique, in a combination situation. Ochoa's two-wave heat total in the Final was her best of the competition.
"First Final, first win, I couldn't be happier," Ochoa said. "It was a fun Final for me. I found two good waves quite early and I had a good rhythm going. I didn't feel nervous and I just went out there confident. It was good to improve my scoreline throughout the event and I'll try to repeat that strategy in the upcoming events."
Now ranked No. 2 on the women's JT rankings, Ochoa will approach the next event focused and determined to do well as the caravan moves to her home in the Basque Country.
"I'm definitely bringing confidence home after this event, and it will be good to have all my family and friends there to support me in Sopela." Ochoa continued.
In the Final, Henrique couldn't match Ochoa's rhythm and had to settle for the runner-up spot. This result sees her climb up the regional ladder to tie for third place with Keshia Seelow-Eyre (GBR).
"I'm so happy to have made it all the way to the Final," Henrique said. "I had a hard time finding the good waves in that heat but I'm still super happy with my result."