The inaugural Pro A Coruña Surf Fest launched today in wind-affected two-to-three foot surf at the backup venue of Playa de Caión. The event started with the men's Qualifying Series and completed twenty-eight heats of competition to narrow the field down to 28 athletes.
Jorgann Couzinet (REU), 22, annihilated his competition with two huge scores, including a near-perfect 9.43 on a combination of several massive backhand turns to launch his A Coruña campaign. Despite a rough start in his heat and three inconsequent waves, the Reunion Island surfer found his groove in the moving lineup and selected better waves to displace buckets of water on each turn and impress the judging panel for an overall 18.20 heat total out of a possible 20.
"I started with a couple falls before I could finally find a decent right to get a score on the board," he explained. "Wave selection was definitely key out there, it's still kind of in between tides and the wave is a little fat but if you pick the right one, it can go all the way and offer a couple sections. I've been training in difficult waves like this a lot and I'm super happy that it pays off on a day like today."
The powerful natural foot, who's been on a steady rise through the Qualifying Series ranks for the past three season, is right about knocking on the door of the coveted Top100 allowing surfers to enter the QS10,000 events. With two good results under his belt already in Israel and Australia, and an excellent form to start the European leg in Galicia, Couzinet could upset a few top seeds in the coming months and find himself battling with the best at major events soon.
"I'm quite happy with the way I'm surfing halfway through this season, I do have a couple of things to fix in heat strategy for example, I often have one big score and struggle to find a back-up," he continued. "But overall I'm on track to enter the 10,000s soon, that's my plan and I'll keep working towards it."
Couzinet went on to score another solid heat to round up the day and belted another 9 point ride.
Former Championship Tour competitor and European Champion Marlon Lipke (PRT), 32, quickly followed in Couzinet's path of destruction and dismantled his fair share of waves for two excellent scores and the second highest combined heat total today, an impressive 17.56 for his round 2 heroics.
Vicente Romero (ESP), 24, a close neighbor residing in Ferrol, launched his own Galician campaign with two successive heat wins to reach the quarterfinals once again this season after his fifth place at the Pro Zarautz a couple of months back. The young Spanish rider seemed in total control today and feeling confident and relaxed surfing an event close to home.
"My first heat this morning was really tough, I was the last one to try the outside option but I quickly realized waves weren't really breaking anymore and I moved towards the inside to change my strategy," he explained. "That's where having a coach comes in handy, we talked about it before my heat and he signaled me that it was the right move. I'm happy to surf here, I live close enough to drive home every night, sleep in my own bed and cook some good food so that's great. I just won the Spanish Championships a couple days ago so I'm feeling great and confident to make a good result here."
France's Tom Cloarec (FRA), 22, advanced into the quarters alongside Romero this afternoon. Coming back from a traumatic leg injury sustained a year ago and several operations later, Cloarec is back surfing close to his full potential and enjoying every opportunity to wear the competition jersey.
"Waves were quite quick in the shore break and you really need to be explosive in those conditions," he reflected. "The juniors are surfing really well, especially in small conditions so there's no easy heat out there, you snooze you lose. I feel much better now and I look forward to a great season, depending on my results I'll see if I continue after the European leg but that's already a lot of events coming up."
Cloarec unfortunately couldn't compose with the slow high tide conditions and bowed out in Round 3, as opposed to his younger brother Nelson Cloarec (FRA), 20, who dominated his matchup and advanced alongside local boy Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), 31, into the quarterfinals.
"I live in Vigo, a little down the road towards the Portuguese border, so it's the same region and I do feel like home around here," Zubizaretta stated. "I've surfed here before with my friends from La Coruña, there's plenty of fun little waves in the area. It's great to be here with all the kids, the girls, it's a great atmosphere and a good opportunity to give the younger guys a couple of advices and just spend some fun time together. Surfing a smaller event is definitely challenging, cause people see you on the big events and expect more from you, you don't want to lose any heat anyway."
Wednesday, the second day of the event will see the women's Qualifying Series competitors enter the show and a combined QS men & women call at 8:30AM, while junior surfers are invited at 11AM for a potential start of their competitions as well.