NewsPro Santa Cruz 2017Vitor Mendes

It's All About the Air on Day 3 in Santa Cruz

Highlights: Top Seeds March Through Day 3 in Santa Cruz
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Morais, Igarashi, Mendes bring world-class surfing to the shores of Portugal for the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley.

The Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley resumed in cleaner conditions this morning, although the northerly wind didn't wait too long to come spoil the party. But the surfers quickly adapted and those with a strong air game made the best of it.

Victor Mendes, that's right, Jesse Mendes' brother, put on a Medina-like display of aerial surfing in the windy peaks of Santa Cruz to claim the event's first perfect 10-point ride this morning.

Wave of the Day 3: Victor Mendes' Perfect Ride
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Victor Mendes drops the first perfect 10-point ride of the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley for a huge frontside air.

Not only that, but he also backed it up with a 9.57. He surfed again in the afternoon and belted another 9.33 and a high 6. All together a pretty decent day for the young Brazilian, who was clearly the most exciting surfer, by miles.

"The wind today is perfect for airs on the lefts so I went for it and I'm stoked I landed a couple," he said. "All my friends here are very supportive, there's a bunch of us staying together and it's a lot of fun. Unfortunately I've already had to surf against a few of them but that's how competition goes."

Just a few months into 2017, Victor has already surfed eight events, mostly in Australia, and is knocking on the door of the coveted Qualifying Series Top 100. Recently dropped by his main sponsor, he had to self-finance his way around the Qualifying Series and spent time in the shaping room to make enough money to travel to and enter events. But apparently none of that dampened his motivation, nor his energy, as he clearly displayed today.

Victor Mendes (BRA)  placed 1st in Heat 12 of Round Twoat Pro Santa Cruz 2017 Hard not to wear a little grin coming in from such a performance. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

"It was fun staying three months in Australia and doing all these events, I had a couple of quarterfinals so that was good," he added. "I have only spent, like, 10 days at home so far this year so I look forward to going back. But in the meantime, I'm super stoked to make a few heats with big scores like that."

Apart from Mendes, who we're basically just starting to hear about, the day was all about the high seeds‘ rampage through Round Three of competition.

Fresh off a Quarterfinal finish at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, Frederico Morais landed in Portugal for a few days before the next CT stop in Brazil. And what better way to keep the blood flow going than putting on a jersey right away and taking your excitement out on your opponents.

Frederico Morais (PRT) placed 1st in Heat 9 of Round Three at Pro Santa Cruz 2017 Kikas doesn't have much to prove in Santa Cruz, but the crowds still expect a lot from their overall favorite. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

"It was really good to finish the Australian leg with a fifth place, it definitely gives you a little bit of momentum for the next few events," he said. "I'm so happy to be home and to see all my family and friends. I've been given a wildcard for this event and that's just icing on the cake."

Frederico easily made his first heat and will carry the momentum into Round Four when the event resumes. With the whole of Portugal's eyes on him, the rookie will need to keep the pressure levels down and try not to get carried away with the strong support of everyone in his home country.

Frederico Morais (PRT) placed 1st in Heat 9 of Round Three at Pro Santa Cruz 2017 Frederico's backhand looked deadly and is a good sign heading into Brazil. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

"There are heaps of good surfers here and the competition is going to be really tough, so I'm not putting any more pressure of myself but of course I'd love to win this event," he continued. "Looking at everyone on the CT and even after only a few events, I feel like I have already learned so much and I can take that experience into this event. The support from the Portuguese people throughout the first part of the year has been amazing and it really makes me want to give back as much as I can."

Fellow Championship Tour athlete Kanoa Igarashi had a similar first day back at work in Santa Cruz. The way he looked at it, it was an awesome change to go left after the three-event leg of rights at Snapper, Margaret and Bells.

Kanoa Igarashi (USA)  placed 1st in Heat 8 of Round Three at Pro Santa Cruz 2017 Kanoa showed a little fin, too, to seduce the judges. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

"The wind was pretty strong into the lefts so it wasn't easy but I'm used to surf conditions like these so I was feeling alright and got a couple good scores," he said. "Saquarema, our next event in Brazil is a left too, so it's good to get a little training before then."

Kanoa finished 2016 with an amazing second place at the Billabong Pipe Masters, but since then had trouble to back up that result. Portugal is a great opportunity for the Californian to get a little confidence back after a string of average results.

Kanoa Igarashi (USA)  placed 1st in Heat 8 of Round Three at Pro Santa Cruz 2017 The battle between CTers Kanoa and Frederico could be a feisty one. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

"I feel like I'm surfing better than ever, and maybe the lack of experience on Tour is what makes the difference between wins and losses for now," he continued. "I'm not going for a World Title yet so I don't worry about the results too much. Being here in Portugal in between events is like coming home and I'm super happy to be able to surf an event and get a little rhythm going before Brazil."

One that isn't on the CT, at least for now, but surfed just as well, was Jorgann Couzinet. He's been on a tear since January, but up until now we didn't have much to compare his level of performance with. Today he clearly surfed on a similar level as Frederico and Kanoa, which will probably only reinforce his motivation to qualify. He's also coming off a second place in the Basque Country, which probably helps confidence-wise.

Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)  placed 1st in Heat 4 of Round Three at Pro Santa Cruz 2017 Jorgann went to his go-to repertoire of carves. WSL / Poullenot/Aquashot

"I'm feeling amazing mentally and physically, everything is going the way it should for me right now," he reflected. "At the end of last season I went home to Reunion Island for a month to rest first and then start training hard and I think that's what made the difference. I'm just in a great place right now and enjoying every heat and event I make."

Competition could resume as early as 8:15 a.m Friday with the fourth round.

Find out who has it to win the Santa Cruz Pro from April 25-30, and check out all the content here.

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