The fourth edition Junior Pro Espinho launched today in clean little waves in the two foot range. Competition ran through the opening rounds of both men and women events, spreading out from 7 a.m to 9 p.m with a long break during high-tide.
The first rounds of a Pro Junior often feature names you've never heard of, and surprises come in the form of the odd big score among a flurry of average heats.
Tomas Zarra is the perfect example, the 15 year-old Spaniard shocked everyone with a brilliant display of radical surfing that stood out from the rest of the crowd. Tomas hasn't gone very far in an event just yet, but keep an eye out for him in the next couple of days when he comes up against some of the top seeds.
"It's been really fun I caught two really good waves and had a lot of fun," Tomas stated. "I did two good turns at the start on the set and a nice finish for that 8.50. It was a really good wave and I was lucky enough to be in the right position. I'm here with my coach Aritza Saratxaga and his advice was simply to choose the right wave and do my thing which is mainly big turns."
Titouan Canevet added another banger heat on behalf of France's northwest region of Brittany, which has consistently delivered fresh new talent so far this season. Titouan reached the quarters in Biscarrosse and is looking to even better that in a bid to replace fellow Breton Titouan Boyer, the reigning European Junior Champion.
"Waves were a bit small but I found a nice option a little outside the main peak and it worked out for me," he said. "My best result is a four-man quarter in Biscarrosse so the goal coming here is to try and better it hopefully. Ian Fontaine who's here coaching us compared the wave to one we have at home so it helped me visualize the opportunities better and was very helpful."
The women today had to sit through an entire day of watching other people surf, to finally hit the water around 7 p.m. When they did though, they made it count!
Vahine Fierro is starting to build a reputation on the Old Continent, every time she comes by, the heads of top seeds roll, figuratively of course. She's made the final of several events already, including a QS in Caparica last April, and stormed through the opening round today to claim an excellent 8 point ride for a combination of three big turns on her forehand.
"I found two pretty fun waves and won my heat so I'm happy with that start!" she said. "After my first decent score I decided to move further down the beach to a different peak which looked like it had a really good left, that's where I got the 8. I usually like to surf on my backhand better, so I was hoping to surf the North bank but that's fun too."
Francisca Veselko has only surfed two WSL junior events so far, and she managed to place third in her last one. It's safe to assume the fourteen year-old has big plans to try and repeat the feat, if not better it with a second or a win in Espinho!
"It's my first time surfing here, I usually stay further down the coast around Lisbon and Ericeira," she admitted. "Waves were a little tough but I made the most of it. I train in all conditions so I was prepared."
Tomorrow, competition could start as early as 6:30 a.m with the men's second round, while the women have a call two hours later to know wether their round will hit the lineup.
Check out all the photos, videos and updates right here.