- WSL / Laurent Masurel
- WSL / Laurent Masurel
Highlights Day 3
The second round of competition gets completed in bumpy three foot surf with Criere, Ferreira, Romero taking top honors.

The Santa Cruz Pro 2016 moved back to the primary location of Praia de Fisica and resumed in bumpy, three-foot surf to run the men's second round of competition.

Vicente Romero set the scale for the judges in the opening heat of the day, serving good, powerful turns in the wind-affected peaks. He defined what the excellent-range scores would look like, belting an 8.33 for his ticket to Round Three.

Vicente Romero (ESP), Santa Cruz 2016 Romero digs the rail on a clean carve. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I don't really like surfing in the very first heat each day because you never know what judges will expect, but it seems to be working out fine so far so I'll take it," he said. "I got a new 5'4 Sharp Eye Disco Inferno model and it's working so well in those waves I'm stoked. I'm traveling here with my coach Kako Garcia and a couple groms, so we're all having fun and enjoying our stay here in Santa Cruz."

Andy Criere paid close attention to the changing conditions and stepped up to nail an incredible 9.10, for a combination of four excellent forehand turns. Criere showed variety in his choice of maneuvers, smooth transitions linking turns with long bottom turns and surfed the long left to perfection for the highest single score of the event so far.

Andy Criere (FRA), Santa Cruz 2016 Criere surfed amazingly well in the small, windy surf. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I'm super focused every morning on the conditions at hand, trying to figure out the best peaks, where the sets break and which waves offer the best sections," he commented. "When I first started on that left where I got the 9, it didn't look that good but it sort of doubled and had much more energy so I just went with the flow and surfed it like it let me."

France's Cloarec brothers Tom and Nelson spearheaded a coup on Heat 4 and advanced respectively in first and second positions into the third round of competition. The two surfers had a good battle until the end of the 25-minute bout, with younger brother Nelson narrowly defeating Germany's Dylan Groen despite a valiant last-minute effort.

Tom Cloarec (FRA), Santa Cruz 2016 Tom Cloarec hit the rebound section to close the deal on making Round Three. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"It was anything but an easy heat, I was lucky to get that last score that gave me a little more security but Nelson almost didn't get through with that last wave of red," Tom reflected. "We've been surfing against each other in heats since we're really young so it's become kind of normal. When one of us is in trouble we're always here to support and try to motivate each other, unless it's a man-on-man -- then it's every man for himself!"

Nelson Cloarec (FRA), Santa Cruz 2016 Nelson got his fair share of fun and advanced as well. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

Long-time threat Jose Ferreira continued his good run in the inaugural Santa Cruz Pro 2016 and even stepped up his game a notch, to claim an excellent 8.50 ride on his backhand, favoring the left option like many other top scorers today. Ferreira advanced alongside compatriot Nic Von Rupp and will represent a legitimate chance of event title for the host country of Portugal.

"This stretch of coast is so underrated, there's amazing waves up and down the coast and people don't come surf here, which is a great thing to score perfect barrels on your own when it's on!" he said.

"I feel good here, I've had good scores in this heat but I'm not going to get ahead of myself. Heats are like that -- you can be really good in one and not have the same luck in the next, so I'll just keep focused on surfing well and having fun and we'll see how it goes."

The strong side-shore breeze came in the way of the original plan of running the women's quarterfinals following the men's second round, and competition was finally called off for the remainder of the day. Event officials and surfers will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. Saturday for the next call.

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