The Pantin Classic Galicia Pro resumed on Day 4 in wind-affected, one-to-two foot surf to complete the first half of the men's round of 64 surfers.
Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 30, and Mateia Hiquily (PYF) 19, opened the show with an exciting finish to an otherwise one-way heat in favor of the Spaniard. Zubizarreta belted an excellent 8.17 in the opening minutes of the matchup and backed it up with average scores to control the heat.
On the other hand, Hiquily waited patiently for over 20 minutes to find his first decent wave, and get out of the combination situation he was in. Opting to sit inside after his first wave, Hiquily found a little section and launched into the air for a reverse rotation in the wind and a 7.77 to take the lead.
In the last minutes, Zubizarreta was forced to fight back for first place and managed to find a 7.37, enough to steal the lead back from the young Tahitian.
"I'm super happy to get through, I felt comfortable with my boards and everything went well for me in that heat," Zubizarreta said. "I had a positive mindset and started with a good wave, but everyone surfed well and especially Mateia so I couldn't really relax I had to try to better my scores all the way."
The current QS No.41 Hiquily, who notably placed runner-up to Kolohe Andino (USA) at the Australian Open earlier this year, kept his composure even through a very tough start to his heat and managed to climb out of combination to briefly take the lead, and eventually advance through to the next round.
"I wasn't feeling that good, I've been sleepy all day and I had a hard time getting into my heat," Hiquily admitted. "It was tough to surf on my forehand cause the wave doesn't offer much face, so I tried a little right and had a good score in the last five minutes. Without priority I had to sit apart from everyone else and that wave came with only room for one maneuver. It was right into the wind and the section was perfect for a little air."
Vicente Romero (ESP) 23, led his Round 3 matchup from start to finish, after opening his account with a solid 8.60. The dynamic young surfer scored multiple good waves until finally backing up his high score with a 7.23 to confirm his dominance in the matchup.
"I had a little freesurf this morning on a higher tide and it seemed a bit easier," Romero explained. "It's really tough to see which waves are going to be good and I made a little priority mistake. I'm just really happy my first one was a great score.
"I have been working on my boards, today I was riding a 5'4 from Sharp Eye, specifically designed for small surf, it's got more width through the tail and worked really well. I've been living here for the past two years so I've surfed a lot this beach and other spots around and I felt comfortable."
Thiago Camarao (BRA) 27, was all over the little peaks on offer right from the opening buzzer, catching a fast righthander that reformed perfectly as a left in the inside and offered the powerful regularfooter a couple of excellent sections to hit. Camarao started with a 7.83 and backed it up immediately with an excellent 8.57 to put his three competitors in a combination situation.
"I felt lucky to get those waves right at the beginning," Camarao said. "I'm super happy to be winning heats and feeling good surfing. I've had two bad injuries these past years, first it was both my hips that I had to get operated on, and then I broke my ACL.
"It basically kept me out of the water for the most part of the past two years and I'm finally back to being healthy and surfing well, so I'm really enjoying surfing in all those events, trying to work back into a good ranking and ultimately into a position to try to qualify for the CT."
Nicolas Squiers (AUS) 32, topped off the day's action with an impressive 16.53 heat total including a 9.03 for his powerful turns and long rides from out the back.
"I think we got the best moment of the tide basically," Squiers said. "When I saw the other guys weren't going out the back I had a little chuckle to myself, I was just sitting there and waiting, not having to hassle. I just love surfing, if it's one foot and onshore I'll go and have a paddle so I just had to go out there and give it a crack."
Contest officials will reassess conditions at 9 a.m. Saturday for a potential restart of the men's event or completion of the women's QS6,000.