The E.Leclerc Pont L'Abbé Junior Pro La Torche resumed on Day 3 as conditions improved drastically from yesterday. Waves kept pumping all day, starting with sets in the six-foot range this morning and strong cross-offshore winds. Round 3 of the men was completed before the women took control of the lineup for Round 2.
Junior events don't usually see waves that big, but it's the second time this season that Europe's best under-18 face challenging surf. And unsurprisingly, the same surfers that reveled in Espinho a few weeks ago, shone in the long and solid waves of La Torche today.
Lenni Jensen was first to unlock the good scoring potential, surfing two good waves to a 14.17 heat total for his spot into Round 4. Currently fourth in the regional title race, the German-born, Canary Island-residing surfer needs a good result in Brittany to solidify his qualifying spot for the world final.
"It was big, offshore and the water was super cold," he said. "I just went for the biggest sets and it worked out, I had a lot of fun. I had a good event in Espinho but I definitely wanted to win it so maybe I have another shot here."
Another surfer in need of a result is the reigning European junior champ Kauli Vaast. The Tahitian surfer started off well with a second place in Espinho, but slipped up with a 25th in Caparica and now needs to bounce back if he wants a shot at defending his title. Today he showed why he was number one last season, with radical surfing on his forehand to post an 8.50, the highest single score of the day.
"I found that big left out the back and I was right in the spot with priority," he explained. "I really thought it was going to close out a couple of times but it ended up opening really well and I managed to do a few good turns so I was stoked. I found a couple of rights as well, so all in all it was a very good heat. My main goal is to finish in the Top 4 but if I can win the title again that'd be a huge plus."
Tom Goasguen doesn't feel the pressure of keeping a high ranking, but the local surfer would love to perform on home turf. Originally from Guidel, on the South coast of the region, he's been training at the high-performance center in La Torche for two years and clearly has learned a thing or two about the spot. When most visiting surfers struggle to find their way in and out of the lineup, locals like Tom have been on the best waves and upsetting some of the higher ranked surfers.
"I've never really performed in the juniors so far so I'm really happy to make a couple of heats here," he said. "I've been improving a lot since I started training here and I hope I can keep it up and hopefully reach the quarters at least. It definitely helps to know this spot well because it's not easy out there and we feel quite comfortable in these conditions."
Conditions settled in the afternoon with the high tide softening waves towards the inside just as the women field paddled out for Round 2.
One of the surprise front-runners in this year's women's Junior title race, Anat Lelior, continued her successful campaign to move into the Quarterfinals in La Torche, the third stop of the Junior Qualifying Series. The Israeli surfer posted her heat's highest number with a 6.67 but struggled to find a backup and barely got the required score in the dying minutes to edge out Mafalda Lopes.
"My first wave was really good and then it feels like I blacked out," Lelior said. "I was under pressure as I wanted a good back-up and couldn't find anything. Waves are fun though, I'm stoked to be here and will try to do better, my goal is to get that number one spot on the rankings."
Surfers and event officials will reconvene at 10 a.m Saturday for the men and 12 p.m for the women.
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