A new 4-to-5-foot swell arrived overnight, allowing the Qualifying Series (QS) Pro Anglet to resume the men's event in firing conditions. An avalanche of high-scoring rides and mind-blowing performances decided the last 16 surfers remaining in contention for a shot at the inaugural Pro Anglet title.
Wildcard Julien Thouron (FRA) advanced in second in his Round 4 matchup, partly thanks to a paddling interference that relegated Mihimana Braye (PYF) to third, moments before the buzzer. The young lifeguard had been scouring the lineup for the little gems offering tube sections, playing the home-field card to his advantage.
"I'm super happy, all my friends were there on the pier to support me, it was cool," Thouron said. "It's a really tricky spot between the two rockwalls, with a lot of water moving, so being a lifeguard in the area I definitely feel like I have an advantage on some other guys that surf here for the first time."
In the following round, Thouron started building momentum with a clean coverup for an average score and a temporary lead. While sitting a little outside of the main peak, the local hero started on a fast-running lefthander and tucked into a foamy barrel to exit cleanly towards the main pier where a crowd of supporters exulted in chants and claps. Judges awarded Thouron a 9.60, enough for the young surfer to claim the heat win and provoke a massive gathering as he walked back up the beach.
"I can only thank the spot, I got two really good waves and I'm extremely happy," Thouron added. "This is my first QS event ever, I'm stoked to make a couple of heats, I think I can even buy a new board now with the money I made and stop borrowing all my stuff from friends (laughs)."
Another standout performer was Vicente Romero (ESP), who tallied two excellent scores to claim the second highest heat total so far, an impressive 17.43 out of 20. The talented Spaniard is having a difficult 2015 season but he blew up in Round 4 and scored one of the best barrels of the day.
"I've been surfing too safe this year," Romero said. "It works for a heat or two but if I want to win an event I'll need to take more risks and that's what I did."
Event top seed and local favorite Joan Duru (FRA) belted a near-perfect 9.73 for a display of powerful backhand hacks on a righthander bomb.
"I was waiting for the lefts really, but that perfect right came through and I couldn't let it go unridden," Duru said. "I couldn't really get another great wave. The conditions are very tricky and you really have to select the right ones."
Andy Criere (FRA) belted one of the highest heat totals of the event so far and survived a tricky Round 5 bout to obtain his ticket for Friday.
"I got here at 7 a.m. this morning and had a really good heat," Criere said. "I had to wait six hours before my next heat, and the heat today was excruciating. I was really tired. That last heat was more like survival but I managed to just make it through and I can't wait for tomorrow."
In his last season among the junior crowd, Criere is already looking ahead at competing on the QS full time. With solid experience in all sorts of conditions, the young Frenchman will be a real threat when he attacks the 2016 season.
"I think there are a lot of really good juniors and that the difference comes from mental strength when you move on to the QS," Criere added. "With the priority system being used more and more now, and all the aspects of competing at the highest level to handle, there's a lot of preparation and work before a heat and that's where you really make a difference."
Surf Report, official forecaster of the Pro Anglet, anticipates another excellent day of surfing on Day 5 with light mostly offshore winds all-day and waves in the three-to-four foot range.
The next Call is set for 7 a.m. local time.