The Pro A Coruña Surf Fest resumed today in clean, one-foot surf and was an all-longboarding day with both men and women taking on the small but fun, peeling rights and lefts to display the art of nose riding and stylish cross walk, drop-knee cutbacks and the like.
Europe's best 9-foot-board-plus surferrs joined the fun at Playa de Caion and launched their Galician campaign this morning to run the Quarterfinals of both the men and women events. Surfers come into this fourth and second-to-last stop of the European Longboard Qualifying Series with a lot of pressure, as the regional crown could very well be awarded by this week's end.
England's Ben Skinner (GBR), 31, came out on top of the morning first heat, tied in first place with Augusto Olinto (BRA), 29, but with a slightly higher best wave, taking the number one spot for the semis. Currently sitting third in the regional longboard title race, the Newquay local is still in striking distance of the top spot before the final event of 2016 at his homebreak next month.
"It's nice to be here in Spain in such a nice place for this event, I'm stoked to get a few waves and excited for the rest of the event," he said. "We got clean waist-high sets and the swell direction has changed so some of the waves run well. The level is really high again and we're all going to push each other to surf better, it's great to have such a challenge and when you win it means even more. Boardmasters is going to be the main event for me this year for sure, being at home it's always great to be there and such a great event, but I'm thankful to the WSL and the organizers for giving us a full longboard tour."
Skinner will be matching up with Emilien Fleury (FRA), 30, amongst others when the event resumes for the Semifinals. The Frenchman dominated his own quarterfinal bout to advance and keep his hopes of a maiden event win alive.
"It's real fun on the high tide we had some fun little waves, things get complicated for the surfers who surf at low tide, it's a patience game," he said.
"I've been stopped in the Quarters every time this season, by Antoine first then Piccolo. It's been two hard heats but I came close, I think I need to work on backing up my biggest score, that's often what I'm missing, and maybe taking more risks, the other guys always score above 15-16 points, that's how they win. It was great to have several events and it allowed guys like Piccolo to come a long way to compete in European events, which is obviously a plus for everyone."
Speaking of international visitors, the women's longboard event counts three VIP guests in Galician waters, in the name of reigning World Champion Rachael Tilly (USA), Brazilian star Chloe Calmon and former World Champion Lindsay Steinriede (USA).
Steinriede had a good battle with Reunion Island's Alice Lemoigne, both surfers going back-and-forth between the top two spots. In a slow heat, Lemoigne finally got the better of the exchange with a final wave surfed in the dying moments of their heat for a 7.67 and the win. A gracious competitor, Steinriede congratulated her opponent and will have another chance in the upcoming Semifinals.
"It was really slow, there was a lot of trying to get in the right spot and waiting for the right wave, a little bit of luck involved as well and just trying to make the most of the waves you caught," Steinriede explained. "I was planning to come spend the summer in Europe anyway so this is just a bonus to be able to hang out with my friends from different parts of the world, surf and discover new locations."
France's Justine Dupont (FRA), 24, continued her successful campaign in A Coruña as well, with a win in her opening longboard heat after she qualified for the quarters of the main QS event on Wednesday. A complete package, Dupont is one of the very few competitors who have competed on the world scene in both short and longboarding divisions.
Juniors and longboarders will next meet at 8:30 a.m. Saturday for a potential finals day for both categories depending on the waves on offer. Event officials are expecting a slight raise in swell and low winds. QS athletes will join them for a 4 p.m. call.