Europe's best up-and-coming athletes aged 18 and under are making their way to Portugal for the Junior Pro Espinho, Stop N°3 of the regional Junior Qualifying Series. The event in its third edition will reignite the intense battles that launched the season in Caparica and Biscarrosse earlier this Spring.
Nested on the northern coast of Portugal only a short drive south of Oporto, Espinho has welcomed junior professional surfers for the past two years, serving excellent conditions repeatedly to witness the global level of performance improve among the best up-and-comers.
Now in its third installment, the Junior Pro Espinho has established itself as a key milestone on the European tour and will undoubtedly help make or break the regional title hopes of many.
Last year's edition saw the Basque Country's Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) and Ariane Ochoa (EUK) take top honors at praia de Baia, and while Gonzalez has now graduated to the Qualifying Series, Ochoa will return to Portugal to defend her title this season.
"This event brings very good memories back to me, it was my first ever Junior win, and having the opportunity to participate in it again makes me very happy," Ochoa said. "I felt really comfortable with the people in Espinho and also the place was great. My main goal this season is to win the European Junior title and to participate in many QS events to get a good ranking."
The venue: praia de Baia is host to some of the best waves in Northern Portugal due to a long break wall to its northern end that concentrates sand and can produce a long, powerful right-hander at low tide and various peaky sections on a mid to higher tide.
"The Junior Pro Espinho always promises something special for visiting athletes and officials each year with city of Espinho playing the perfect host with its high class waves and conditions," Rob Gunning, European Tour Manager said. "It's our third visit with the Junior Pro this year and we are looking forward to having the top U18 surfers compete here once again."
The current men and women's Top5 will lead the troops and stand as follows:
European Junior Qualifying Series Men's Top5:
1- Titouan Boyer (MAF)
1- Thomas Debierre (GLP)
3- Marco Mignot (FRA)
4- Luis Perloiro (PRT)
5- Joao Moreira (PRT)
European Junior Qualifying Series Women's Top5:
1- Teresa Bonvalot (PRT)
1- Ariane Ochoa (EUK)
3- Nina Reynal (FRA)
4- Nadia Erostarbe (EUK)
5- Néis Lartigue (FRA)