Gony Zubizarreta claimed his first QS win since 2010, in the Final of the Men's QS division at the Caparica Primavera Surf Fest. The Galician surfer with strong ties in Portugal waited for a last-minute effort to overtake the obvious favorite on Portuguese soil, Vasco Ribeiro.
"Vasco started really strong and I could barely find anything interesting at first," Gony said. "But those heats are so long, I knew everything could change. That last wave came and Vasco had priority but didn't go. I got it and it reformed really well, thankfully I got that 8. You have to fight until the end and I knew I could potentially get the score with a better opportunity."
A constant threat on the QS for the past ten years, Gony peaked in 2016 with his best-ever finish at No.41. He will continue to give the qualifying effort a good crack this season, but started shifting to select events and fun side-projects with his sponsors and co-owned brand Jam Traction with Marlon Lipke.
"I've been in the Canaries on a trip for Surfer Mag with Jonathan Gonzalez and we scored, surfed Cave also with Volcom international, those trips are really tiring you're surfing so much!" he continued. "We work so much with Marlon as well, all that gets us really busy but still every time I enter a contest I want to win and the big QS10,000s are coming in South-Africa and the US. I feel like I'm surfing better than ever, and I have more experience so we'll see how I go."
Vasco Ribeiro, a former WSL Junior Champion, had the final locked in until Gony's final effort, feeling the win slip through his fingers in the very last seconds of their exchange. With the support of recently retired Championship Tour competitor Tiago Pires, Ribeiro's 2017 season is shaping up to be his strongest-ever bid to join long-time friend Frederico Morais on the CT.
"I'm feeling good and confident in myself and my equipment," Vasco said. "This is a good way to launch that European Spring leg and I'll move on to the next two events, hoping I can go one better."
Lens Arancibia Avila and Pedro Henrique placed third and fourth respectfully. The Frenchman, Lens, still in high-school, is only just testing the QS depths. He is committed to finishing this year off, including exams, before fully immersing himself into the full-time qualifying experience.
"I got some fun waves in the Final, my goal was to win it obviously but this is how it goes," Lens reflected. "I'm still super happy to make a Final and I'll try again harder in the next one."
Pedro on the other hand, has been touring the world in search of those precious QS points for years and is a regular on podiums all-across the seven regions of the WSL.
"This was such a hard event considering the conditions and the level of surfing from everyone," Pedro said. "But it was a great warm-up and I look forward to surfing again soon."
Only longboarders have yet to crown champions in Caparica, and the organizers have convened them to a 7 a.m call Saturday for a potential early start, and finish, of their Portuguese campaigns.