NewsAzores Airlines ProO'Neill Massin

Opening Day Report: Azores Airlines Pro

Highlights: Round 1 Done and Dusted in Azores
2:18
Competition starts in two-foot surf at Santa Barbara to complete Round One of the Azores Airlines Pro pres. by SEAT.

There are trends we could honestly do without. Fidget spinners are one. Another is an opening day on the QS in Europe with average waves. Day 1 at the Azores Airlines Pro pres. by SEAT complied with the recent series of events and delivered, through an action-packed day, mediocre conditions.

But a complete surfer is one whose skill set can turn heads in all types of waves and the following pros have all but surfed safe, or boring, in the opening round of the QS6,000 today.

Ariihoe Tefaafana must have felt right at home with the green, luxurious background of Santa Barbara and its black sand beach. Coming from Tahiti, though, the comparison stopped there today. Waves-wise it wasn't quite the same. Regardless, Ariihoe who got into the event as an alternate for someone not showing up, made full use of the little lefts on offer and belted the day's strongest performance.

Ariihoe Tefaafana (PYF) Ariihoe's surfing on the little lefts was impeccable. WSL / WSL/POULLENOT

"It's not easy out there but I'm happy I made it through," he said. "Coming as an alternate, there's always a little pressure to fly somewhere and spend some money when you're not even sure you're going to surf in the event. So I'm super happy to win that one in fun waves. This island reminds me a lot of home, so I feel comfortable."

California's Kilian Garland was as far as he possibly could be from his home turf of righthand point breaks, but also adapted, to nail one of the day's heats as well. Killian's ocean sense and smart strategy to get busy early on worked wonders for him as he moved into the top seeds' Round Two.

Kilian Garland (USA) Kilian's turns hit the right sections at Santa Barbara. WSL / WSL/POULLENOT

"I started off with a couple of little waves and then built my scores, I found a wedge that turned into a pretty good little wave," he explained. "It's kind of sneaky, you don't really see them coming and you think they're going to hit a spot and they don't, so I was stoked to pick up a couple there. I've really enjoyed my first trip to Spain and now I'm having a great time here in the Azores. I'm going to try to visit some of the sites, see the volcano and lakes etc."

Billy Stairmand reached a career-highest 29th rank on the QS three years ago and since then rode the slippery slope all the way down to his current 144th spot, barely enough to enter the event in Azores. Today he showed his feisty self out in the water again and dominated his first heat to keep his Azores campaign alive.

Nolan Rapoza Nolan Rapoza advanced second to Ariihoe with excellent surfing as well. WSL / WSL/POULLENOT

The red jerseys -- higher-ranked seeds -- suffered a damaging day with the eliminations of Leandro Usuna , Reef Heazlewood, Jacob Willcox, Dusty Payne, Nomme Mignot, Mateus Herdy, Parker Coffin and Maxime Huscenot, among other shocking early exits.

Everyone will reconvene at 8 a.m Wednesday to reassess conditions and decide of the second day's schedule.

Check out all photos, videos, results and live webcast right here.

×
World Surf League
Official App
Free – Google Play
Get it