The day dawned looking a bit like small-to-mid-sized Backdoor and Pipe -- not the favored conditions for pros using 9 feet of foam and epoxy resin -- and like yesterday, once the tide filled in, conditions proved more manageable.
Delpero consistently charged through his heats netting several of the event's highest heat totals by following a game plan that mixed big wave bravado with traditional longboard polish and style. Through most of his heats he went for critical maneuvers out the back before taking to the nose through the middle break.
Where most events would see the competitors ride all the way through to the inside, the difficulty making it back outside in today's conditions found many competitors ditching waves to avoid getting caught inside.
"I just wanted to surf well," Delpero said. "Ben surfed really good through the event. We both had a lot of trouble paddling out and we both got really smashed. In the two last heats I broke two of my boards, just snapped them."
The conditions also contributed to surprise exits by standouts Rodrigo Sphaier and last year's champ Emilien Fleury. With those two out, the field was open for Edouard and Ben to advance -- with Ben taking out Edouard's brother, Antoine, in the men's Round of 16.
"To win today would have been great," said Ben. "But to be in the Final with Edouard is great too. He's such an amazing surfer and to me, he and his brother Antoine are the two best longboarders in the world. And it was nice to at least take one of them down, but nice to surf against Edouard in the final."
Earlier in the day the two looked destined for a final matchup with both surfers chasing tubes in the low-tide peaks early in the day -- Edouard on a shortboard before the competition kicked off and Ben in his Round of 16 heat on a longboard.
"There were some really challenging conditions today for sure," added Ben. "It's really tough to paddle back out through the lineup but there are some absolute nuggets. This wave is a phenomenal wave it's one of the best waves here in Portugal."
Event oddities today included more broken boards in the tumultuous surf and a 15-minute attempt by last year's champ Emilien Fleury to make it out for his heat, as well as an interference by Remi Arauzo in his heat against Edouard Delpero.
"I was not sure I had priority," said Delpero. "Like, he put the dog on me and I was going too fast to pull back so I just told myself that if I don't have priority I'll just go for it because I was going too fast and there was no way to stop. He didn't hassle me for the waves so I don't know why he did that."
Having logged several Winter sessions at Nazaré and Belharra, the charger from Lacanau had one game plan in mind throughout the event: make it to the outside and get the big set waves.
"My strategy was to go outside and to take the best two waves and to make it through each heat," she said. "Just to go heat by heat and to take it easy."
With this win Justine's on a roll, and she plans to make the most of it.
"I will go to Caparica for the longboard event. I'd like to do all the long boarding events in Europe this year to take the title or do the world championships, but we'll see if that works out."
Check out all the photos, videos and updates for the Longboard Pro Espinho right here.