The inaugural Pro Zarautz launched today in three-to-four foot surf with light onshore wind, providing a great playing field for some of Europe's best surfers to perform.
France's Marc Lacomare, 25, put on an absolute clinic, attacking the clean afternoon peaks with amazing power and flow on his backhand. The Frenchman belted two massive scores on his final two efforts and clinched a near-perfect 18.97 heat total, the highest of the event so far.
"Waves were fun, you just had to find the right two," Lacomare said. "It's always great to have events in your own region, even though we're not exactly home, it's still very close and I like being able to go home at the end of the day, sleep well and come back the next morning. I haven't had the best of starts in Australia this season, but I feel great so I'm hoping things will turn around."
Coming off an excellent ninth place at the Australian Open of Surfing, perennial QS threat Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), 35, confirmed his great form in Zarautz. The Canary Island surfer nailed two clean carves on a right-hander for an 8.90 early on, and despite having a hard time finding another good ride, managed to steal the lead and eventually take first place.
"I've come here a few days early and have been training a lot," he said. "Conditions look good for the weekend, so hopefully that sandbank stays put and we can continue to surf that right. There are a lot of great surfers here so it's going to be a tough event. But I'm having fun and I look forward to surfing more heats out there."
Local favorite Hodei Collazo (EUK), 31, navigated a trickier low-tide lineup to find two decent waves and take advantage of the sections perfectly to advance into the third round. An experienced competitor, Collazo will play the home-field advantage when the event continues, with hopes of keeping the event trophy in Zarautz.
"I really appreciate being competing at home again," Collazo admitted. "We have had events here on and off for a long time and I truly hope this one is here to stay. Conditions have been excellent before the event and the forecast is good for the next two days so it should be fun.
"There are a few surfers from Zarautz in the event and we're all just a big family. Hopefully someone from the crew can take it all out. Aritz and I may have paved the way but there's a bunch of really good younger guys that are ripping, so it will be hard to keep up!"
Vicente Romero (ESP), 23, rounded up the day's action in the late afternoon setting sun, with a solid display of performance surfing to launch his campaign in the Basque Country.
"Wave selection was really tricky but luckily I was patient and waited with first priority until I found a really good one," Romero explained. "I got that 7.50 in the end and made it through so I'm super happy. I've competed here in Zarautz for a long time and I feel completely comfortable so I hope I can continue to win heats and have fun."
Surfers and event officials will reconvene Saturday at 8:15 a.m. for a potential great day of both men and women's surfing in Zarautz.