Praia de Santa Bárbara, Sao Miguel / Azores Islands - The ASP Prime SATA Azores Pro presented by Sumol resumed Wednesday in perfect 3-to-5-foot surf at praia de Santa Barbara. The playful conditions allowed competitors to once again raise the performance bar and put on a great show of competitive surfing.
Current Qualification Series (QS) No. 20 and recent Quarterfinalist at the Vans US Open of Surfing and Soöruz Lacanau Pro, Maxime Huscenot (FRA) 22, kept the ball rolling and secured a spot in the fifth round of competition. Huscenot took top honors on Day 2, consistently scoring in the excellent range for both exceptional rail-surfing and a fine aerial repertoire.
â€œThat left is super fun and I love to surf on my backside,â€ Huscenot said. â€œI knew the backwash today would come into play so I changed boards and I'm stoked 'cause this one is a gem as well. I'm pretty patient, I know two scores is all you need and I focused on selecting the best options out there.â€
Sitting on a solid two-wave total in his non-elimination heat, Huscenot loosened up to let his inner aerialist come out. He launched into a high-speed backside rotation landing perfectly to net a 9.67 and leave his two opponents in a combination situation.
â€œI was talking to my dad and before my heat, during that storm the wind was perfect for backside airs,â€ Huscenot added. â€œIt got cleaner in my heat so I started to build a scoreboard and then I really wanted to try an air. I'm stoked to make this one.â€
Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) 19, continued his successful campaign in Sao Miguel, managing to come out on top in a difficult matchup against current rankings leader Matt Banting (AUS), 20, and former event champion Tomas Hermes (BRA), 27.
â€œI'm feeling really good and stoked to get a couple fun waves today again,â€ Ribeiro said. â€œTo win heats here is even more appreciated because I have family and friends along and I hope the waves keep coming to me in the latter rounds.â€
Joan Duru (FRA) 25, advanced into the fifth round of competition as well, a season first for the young Frenchman who has struggled to find his rhythm so far in 2014.
â€œI haven't had a result for some time, and my confidence levels weren't too high to be honest,â€ Duru reflected. â€œThat 9.00 this morning really got me back into it, and to win again this afternoon against guys like Willian (Cardoso) and my friend Ramzi (Boukhiam) is cool.â€ Duru destroyed the clean righthanders on offer, to post one of the highest single wave scores of the day, an impressive 9.33 out of 10. Regaining confidence in Azores, he will be one to watch when the event resumes.
â€œI stayed on site all day and have been watching the different peaks for the last three days so I'm starting to get a good hang of it.â€ Duru added. â€œI knew right before my heat that a couple rights would break on that other break, and to beat Willian I needed to find waves on my backhand. The wave here tend to mellow out quickly and it's easier to fit two big turns on your backhand in no time.â€
Aritz Aranburu (ESP) 29, one of only two WCT surfers remaining in contention for the Azores crown, dominated his Round 2 bout with unmatched speed, power, and flow to easily qualify for the non-elimination third round.
â€œThere's a lot of guys who rip and I have a lot of respect for all the competitors, a lot of them deserve a spot on the CT,â€ Aranburu said. â€œYou know it's hard when you follow both tours, there's a lot of traveling and we were all pretty tired coming here right after Tahiti. Going from 12-foot barrels to 4-foot faces isn't easier either to adapt your game.â€
In the following round, Aranburu and his opponents were left in the lineup for a good half hour while the event was put on hold due to tropical rain showers affecting visibility, and couldn't get his rhythm back when competition resumed. The talented Spanish surfer will face Banting for a spot in the fourth round.
â€œWe stayed a while in the water before the contest re-started and the conditions changed the whole time, it went from onshore before the rain, to strong side-offshore during and really clean and glassy after the storm passed,â€ Aranburu explained. â€œMy plan didn't work as good as this morning but I still have a chance tomorrow and I hope I'll take it.â€