Lander Davila (EUK), 18, and Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), 16, have won the Junior Pro Espinho in fun two-to-three foot waves in front of a building crowd. Competition resumed before lunchtime to complete the final four heats remaining on finals day.
An exciting men's final witnessed surfers go blow-for-blow and exchange pole position all the way into the final moments of the heat. Thomas Debierre (GLP), 15, a previous event winner this season, had a great start but couldn't contain the repeated assaults of Basque Country's Davila, who took control with a solid 7.17 and never let go, culminating with his first-ever Junior win. With his result today, Davila takes a huge leap upwards 32 spots to sit in No. 3 in the European Junior title race.
"I'm stoked to get this win, it wasn't an easy heat because there were a lot of waves but not a lot offering a good wall so I felt pretty limited," he reflected. "With the wind and low tide it's really hard to find the good ones. I finally managed to get two pretty good waves and post the scores I needed. I was not expecting to get such a good result and a victory is the best that could have happened to me here!"
Close behind Davila, Debierre kept busy and tried to overcome the task at hand but despite good wave selection and his sharp surfing, the Guadeloupe native could only climb up to second place in the dying minutes. With an added 750 points to his season tally, Debierre cements his lead and distances himself from a close second, Titouan Boyer (MAF).
"I got a difficult start and I almost lost in round 3, but managed to go through," he analyzed. "From then I felt a bit more confident and I won the following heats, being first in each of them. Arriving in the finals, I got a good score at the beginning and then I was looking for my back up but I didn't find the wave and I was third until the last minute. Finally I jumped back to second place ahead of Luis Diaz (CNY), thanks to a good wave where I could put a good snap, another good roller trying to finish with a float but I went down."
In a slow start to the women's final, surfers started to exchange low scores trying to find the right waves with potential in a moving lineup. Ariane Ochoa (EUK), 18, was first to take a substantial lead midway through the 25-minute matchup, but only Portugal's Bonvalot was able to crack the excellent range (8.00 or better) with an 8.33 to claim back the lead. Despite a valiant last-minute effort from the Basque surfer, Bonvalot backed up her main score and came in victorious on home soil.
"It feels good to win again, it's been a long time coming," she said. "After Caparica I did a few contests but no result so I'm really happy. It's really tricky out there. I really want to enjoy this year and take my surfing to the next level. I've been training hard and traveled to score good waves and improve."
Ochoa, the defending event champion, managed to reach another final in Espinho, but unfortunately couldn't repeat her performances of last year and was forced to take the runner-up result. With a win, a second place and a third this season so far, the young Basque surfer solidifies her second place on the regional rankings -- all of which means she could qualify for the World Junior Championships.
"I can't say I'm not happy because second place is a good result," she commented. "Like everyone I would have loved to win again and confirm last year's win here in Espinho. Rare opportunities, a slow heat, I was waiting for the bomb but it never came. I can't wait for the next events, I'm working hard to get good results and really hope it'll pay off."
Surfers will next meet at the Junior Pro A Coruña from July 5-10.