It was a proper scorching day under the Caparica sun, and the national holiday meant that crowds in the thousands came to enjoy the show at the Caparica Primavera Surf Fest. The second day of the event's waiting period delivered fun, peaky waves to run through multiple rounds of the men's and women's Qualifying Series and Junior divisions.
There isn't enough time in the world to go through every single heat that was surfed today, so instead we'll focus on a few little stories that didn't go unnoticed.
Women's QS: Big or Small, Justine Would (and Did) Go
She spent the whole winter chasing monsters between Hawaii for the Pe'ahi Women's Challenge, France where she tackled the infamous Belharra paddling, and finally nearby Nazaré, where she rented a place for the rest of the big-wave season. Somehow though, Justine Dupont came out in waist-high Caparica surf and managed to put two 8s on the board to advance into the Quarters.
"I feel so much more relaxed in heats this year," said Dupont. "Since I lost my main sponsor I don't have that pressure to qualify anymore and I enjoy myself more. Training that much for big waves is actually very beneficial for this as well, your legs get more dynamic and powerful. All I want to do right now is push my surfing to the next level and in all sorts of conditions."
Men's QS: Or is it LQS ? Getting Lost Here..
Only a short two weeks ago, Edouard Delpero was threading barrels on a 9-foot longboard in the unlikeliest of places -- Papua New Guinea -- for the Kumul PNG World Longboard Championship. Today, he went back to a shorter quiver and negotiated the small surf perfectly to make his way through a tricky bout against former Championship Tour (CT) surfer Tiago Pires, among others.
"When events coincide I always love to enter a shortboard event," he said. "I do less events like that but I always practice a lot on shortboards when I free surf.
"We were so lucky to get an incredible swell in PNG for the whole event," he continued. "The place was just magical, and conditions were epic. That wave is basically a mini-Nias and it's just an amazing spot for all sorts of boards. It was an incredible experience to discover a new place like this."
Women's Junior QS: A Tahitian Spoiler in Caparica
Vahine Fierro came to Europe for the first time two years ago and already blew minds as a 15-year-old junior hailing from Tahiti. She managed to reach the Semis and was only defeated by the eventual winner, an experienced competitor and Sopela local five years her senior, Leticia Canales Bilbao.
Today she once again impressed and advanced into the Semis of the Junior's event, ahead of two-time winner and Portuguese superstar Teresa Bonvalot. Oh, and she also moved into the main event's Quarters.
"I've been at the beach since 6 a.m and waves have been tricky to say the least," Vahine admitted. "I still managed to do a couple of maneuvers so I'm super happy to continue. Wetsuits are not really my thing and the water is freezing for me here. I'm going to be doing more events here this season as I now compete for the European region and title."
Men's Junior QS: Well Sort Of
Thomas Debierre won the Caparica Junior Pro last year. Technically he's still a Junior, but today he was surfing the main event and did well to advance into Round Four. Thomas has a chance this week to defend his title in the Juniors when the event reaches the top seeds third Round, and also to make his mark against some of the top QS athletes in the region.
"I only did one QS in Lacanau last year before this," Thomas explained. "Conditions were tough and I only made one round, but it was good for the experience. I'm going to do a couple more this year but my focus is still very much on the Junior Tour. "
In the actual Junior division that ran today, the man of the hour was Eño James. The 17-year-old from England, residing in Mexico, absolutely blew up in Round Two to post a near-perfect 18.10 heat total for a spot into the next round. Definitely one to watch when the event restarts, probably tomorrow.
Event officials will reassess conditions at 7 a.m. Wednesday for a potential start of the men's Junior event, then at 11 a.m. for the women, both juniors and QS.