A recent finalist in Cornwall earlier this summer, Angelo Bonomelli was the first surfer to reach the excellent range of scores this morning with his crisp backhand attack of the long lefts and rights breaking at Anfaplace Shopping Center.
"In the last two events I couldn't really find the right waves and lost pretty early so I'm happy to get a good start here with those two eights," he said. "It's my first time here in Casablanca, I've only ever been once to Morocco but further down the coast when I was younger. So far I'm having fun, the wave's good, it's really warm and beautiful and people are nice so this should be a good week!"
Miguel Blanco was undeniably the strongest surfer to take on the Casablanca waves on this opening day in Morocco. The young Portuguese claimed the day's highest single-wave score, an incredible 9.17 for a combination of four powerful backhand hacks on a large set wave to easily make his way into Round Two.
"We had a similar left on high-tide last year so I kind of knew what I was looking for out there and how to be active to find the right waves," he commented. "I'm having quite a good year this season, I'm around 130 on the QS and I've made some good heats this season against some strong surfers. Things are starting to go my way and I'm having loads of fun competing. It would be epic to make the QS10,000s in Hawaii but I'm in no rush, I still want to do trips and all that. I'm still learning and trying to improve my surfing, and hopefully whenever I get to surf those big events I'll be able to fight for qualification."
Morocco's Chadi Lahrioui showed great potential for his first-ever participation in a professional event, and gave Charly Quivront a good run for his money in their Round One matchup. The Rabat local held the heat's lead for a good while and was only barely overtaken by Quivront in the dying moments of their battle, still advancing in second place.
"I'm super happy to get this experience of surfing here in the event for the first time," he admitted. "I surfed with our National team in the Juniors ISA event last year in Azores and finished in the quarters, but this is next level. There are some really good surfers here and I'm stoked to compete against some real professionals, I can't wait for the next round!"
Freya Prumm secured the women's field's highest heat total of 16.40 and delivered a great battle against form Kiwi surfer Ella Williams. Where most were able to find one good wave and battled to back it up, the Australian picked two excellent rides and navigated her way through the soft spots to score big.
"I knew the long lefts were out there but I didn't expect to catch a right so I was pretty happy to catch one and get a good score on it," she stated. "I feel confident in my surfing and I think it's a matter of picking the right waves so I can get a bit of open face to work with. When everyone's at a similar level of ability it comes down to heat strategy and even though I've been doing this for a few years now I feel like I still do too many mistakes and have a lot more to learn."
Pauline Ado continued her good run with a convincing first heat and two good waves to advance into the second round. Fresh off two excellent results in Galicia and Azores, Ado currently sits second on the regional rankings and will look to overtake good friend Justine Dupont in Morocco to add yet another title to her list of achievements.
"I had a little free surf this morning, but this is all going fast, we were just in Azores and got here late last night so it's not really easy to transition," she said. "It's just a matter of getting back into it, so I'm happy I took a win to start things off. There's a strong rip and it's not an easy lineup to read but the waves are quite fun, they have different sections, some flat some a little better to hit so there's definitely potential for good scores."
Local event wildcard Fatima Zahra Berrada was the only female Moroccan surfer in the Roxy Pro Casablanca and unfortunately couldn't advance past more seasoned competitors in a wave-starved first round bout. Berrada however walked away with a smile as she represented the host country proudly and set a great example for women who surf in her local community.
"I am really thankful to the organizers and the federation for giving me a wildcard," she explained. "It's great that the women have a chance to surf in this event in Casablanca as well this year. There aren't many women surfing in Morocco and I truly hope this event will encourage them to either pick up this sport, or for those who already have, to try their luck in competitions."
Event officials and surfers will reconvene at 9:30AM Wednesday to assess conditions and decide of the day's schedule.
MagicSeaWeed, official forecaster for the WSL Europe Qualifying Series events, calls for "Consistent surf in the overhead range with lighter winds in the morning but an onshore air flow for most of the day." for Wednesday.