In an extremely unusual turn of events, the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro women's Final was forced to end right in the middle of the heat when a heavy fog cloud completely covered the playa de Pantin, making it impossible for both the surfers to compete and the judges to see them in the lineup.
Event officials have decided to postpone the Final to Sunday afternoon before the men's Final, and will re-start the heat from scratch as neither Sage Erickson nor Pauline Ado had a clear advantage over the other and both agreed to that scenario.
"I definitely didn't see that coming and had planned a completely different final, but obviously you can't control mother nature sometimes," Erickson stated. "We have had the most beautiful conditions the entire week so a little bit of fog is alright. I'm really excited for the Final, I don't know if I'll get much sleep tonight."
"We've seen fog like this here before but usually in the mornings so it's quite unusual," Ado confirmed. "In the water, Sage and I could still see each other but nothing else around us and it was a bit freaky to be honest. It wasn't such a great Final so far for either of us, so honestly I think we're both quite happy to get a second chance."
Prior to that unfortunate finish, the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro ran a full day of exciting high-performance surfing in excellent four-to-six foot waves and under a scorching Galician sun.
Teresa Bonvalot saw her excellent campaign come to a close in the semifinals where she couldn't match Erickson's rhythm and placed equal third. The Portuguese claims the best result of her young career and can be satisfied with an impressive road to the semis as she previously eliminated two Samsung Galaxy Women's Championship Tour surfers Prior to her QS heroics, Bonvalot dominated the regional junior season with three event wins to clinch a maiden European Junior Title in 2016.
"It's a great result, of course when you get so close you're hoping for more but I'm really happy about what I did in this contest," she said. "I love competing here in Pantin, last year was already my best result and I always get some good scores here. This year we got great waves and weather, even the water was a little bit warmer than usual!"
Paige Hareb, former Top 17 resident for six seasons, was another standout in Pantin, surpassing Nikki Van Dijk and Justine Dupont on her way to an equal-third finish. Hareb had a shocker in her Semifinal bout against Ado where she didn't find a wave until the five-minute mark and ultimately lost the heat.
Earlier today, two rounds of the men's event were completed as well, with an incredible display of performance surfing and progressive maneuvers and a flurry of huge scores including the first perfect 10-point ride of the event.
Leonardo Fioravanti, current leader of the Qualifying Series, absolutely blew up today to solidify his status of event favorite and potential new threat for next season's Championship Tour. The Italian destroyed the lefts in his first heat for a near-perfect 9.67 and a back-up of a 9.00 point ride. This afternoon, he opted to go right, full speed to lock in a combination of powerful gauges and a layback snap to seal the deal on a 9.33 for his second win of the day and a spot into Round 5.
"I'm super stoked to make it to finals day, I wasn't too sure about that last heat because I started with such a banger and I only surfed two other waves and fell on both," he said. "I've been riding the same board all year and just changed for this contest, it's a new magic one I think, it's working great, has a lot of speed so I'm stoked. I've got all my family here for support and the public here is incredible too, every year we get just the best feeling from the crowd, thanks everyone."
A consistent and impressive Joan Duru belted two 15.93 heat totals en route to make Round Five, including an excellent 9.10 for a display of his signature backhand power hacks. The Frenchman also took it to the air in the afternoon and seemed to be successful at everything he tried out in the lineup.
"The tide was getting really high there and the lineup changed completely," he commented. "I knew the lefts were gone, but thankfully I got a good right early on and a back-up, so with priority I waited for the good ones.
"My board feels amazing, it's a great board for when it's powerful, but it can do tricks as well. I was really happy to make some airs, I don't too often so it was a good way to get that second win. Tomorrow is going to be a long day so I'm going to get as much rest as possible before then."
Out of the remaining 24 contestants in Round Four this afternoon, nobody could have guessed Deivid Silva (BRA) wouldn't make the cut. The Brazilian scored the only perfect 10-point ride of the event so far earlier today, with an incredible alley-oop rotation on a big left-hander. The talented goofyfooter unfortunately couldn't find the right waves in the next heat and was left watching Frenchmen Charly Martin and Nomme Mignot go head-to-head for the two qualifying spots.
Event officials will reassess conditions at 9AM Sunday for the final day of competition in Galicia.
MagicSeaWeed, official forecaster for the WSL Europe Qualifying Series events, calls for: "By some margin the most interesting swell on the forecast at the moment. A punchy long period NW swell from ExHurricane Gaston combines with a decent mid period N swell from a low pressure system forecast for tomorrow. There is a much broader range of model numbers for this but the outlook at the moment puts waves in the head to head and a half range on the better sets by the afternoon with light NE winds. The details here will likely change as we watch these swells develop." for the weekend.