The 2016 Azores Airlines Pro pres. by Sumol resumed in improving three-to-five foot lefts and rights at Monte Verde and ran through another massive day of competition to complete the remaining heats of Round One and the whole of Round Two. With the event's top seeds joining the party, the level of performance continued to raise and reached new heights with several excellent to near-perfect scores achieved by some of the World's top QS athletes.
QS leader Leonardo Fioravanti dropped the day's biggest performance, and in the least amount of time as the young Italian had a rather slow start to his matchup. Sitting second with just over five minutes remaining, Fioravanti was counting two average waves before he put his foot on the gas to surf two excellent waves for the win. Against the day's main stream of scoring big on the lefts, Fioravanti stuck to his forehand on the rights at first to show a variety of power turns including an incredible layback snap on his best wave of 8.50. He finally went on a good left as well in the dying seconds of the heat, nailing an 8.27 to seal the deal.
"I surfed a completely different heat than the other guys, we were on separate peaks about 100m from each other so I was basically just against myself and trying to find some nice waves," he commented. "I had a bit of a shocker in my heat in Pantin, I was feeling great but somehow I never found any of the right waves so I'm happy to be here and to get my head back in the game, let's hope this one goes a bit better!"
Ian Gouveia recent finalist at the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro where he placed fourth, dominated the day's proceedings as well to advance into Round Three. The high-flying Brazilian started his second round bout with a clean straight air for a solid 7 point ride and kept building house until the five-minute mark when he launched into a massive full-rotation for a near-perfect 9.47, the day's highest single wave score.
"I'm stoked to advance again, I was really tired because I got here late; after the final in Pantin finishing late Sunday I missed my flight and was in a rush yesterday for my heat just before dark," he explained. "Today the waves were really fun and I was out there thinking I was just in a free surf having fun. In this heat I thought I was losing cause I saw the other guys get good set waves so when that good wave came I just wanted to go big and thankfully I landed that air."
Yago Dora took a very similar approach to belt a 9.10 on a huge air as well, backing up his main score with excellent surfing on a beautiful left-hander to net an 8.50 and claim the strongest combined heat total of the round.
Current European N°2 Jorgann Couzinet claimed his second heat win in Azores today, keeping his excellent regional campaign going in the quality surf of Sao Miguel. The Reunion Island surfer was one of the lucky few to even experience a little barrel action at Monte Verde today.
"Before my heat I saw a lot of good waves breaking there and I knew this was the best option," he said. "I got lucky to get those two good lefts right away, it took a lot of the pressure off. I'm having a good time and I want to keep surfing here, my goal is to reach the quarters, I know it's hard but I really want it."
Michael February came out victorious of a good battle with Patrick Gudauskas, courtesy of a super bowly and hollow overhead left that gave the young South-African room for four consecutive backhand turns for an excellent 8.33 and the win.
Deivid Silva got his own 9 point ride, but contrary to his fellow Brazilians, this time sticking to the face of the wave with two super radical turns in the power pocket of the wave and a final hit on the closeout section.
Portugal's best hope in Azores, Frederico Morais successfully started his campaign with a great display of his signature backhand power turns for a dominant win over Ian Crane (USA). Morais, who won the second edition of the Martinique Surf Pro earlier this Spring, is carrying low results on his season tally and could take a leap forward with a strong result in Azores, before the final Hawaiian leg where he's done well in the past.
"I knew this would be a tough heat to start with so it's a great way to start the event," he admitted. "There's only five events left counting this one I think so every single one is important for me. I love it when the waves are a bit bigger and powerful, it suits my surfing really well and thankfully I got some good ones out there. I don't feel any extra pressure here, I know if people cheer me on it's just cause they want me to do well so it's more of a positive vibe surrounding me and I'm stoked with all the support."
Organizers will reassess conditions at 8:30AM Thursday to decide wether conditions allow for the men or women's event to resume.
MagicSeaWeed, official forecaster for the WSL Europe Qualifying Series events, calls for "Yesterday's swell drops into the chest high range but with improved winds. Lighter from the west." for Wednesday.