- WSL / Laurent Masurel
- WSL / Laurent Masurel
Highlights Day 4
Semifinalists emerge in testing five foot surf to set an exciting finals day at the inaugural Santa Cruz Pro 2016.

The Santa Cruz Pro 2016 resumed on day 4 of the event's waiting period with a new solid swell on offer, serving up big chunky white water walls in a moving lineup to decide the semifinalists in wind-affected five-foot surf at praia de fisica.

The first two quarterfinals delivered exciting regular vs. goofy scenarios, with both heats going in the way of the goofy footers, perfectly using their forehand attack on the big lefts on offer.

Tom Cloarec put an end to the amazing brotherhood run through this event as he eliminated younger sibling Nelson in the opening quarterfinal. The more experienced of the two, had to resort to a final minutes effort on a long wave that offered two good vertical sections for the winning 6.67 ride.

Tom Cloarec (FRA) .Cruz16 Cloarec commits to a solid re-entry for the win. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I got in and had absolutely no idea what was going on, considering the conditions I thought with my first little right I could still be in it," he said "I hadn't seen what Nelson did so I continued to just try and surf my waves and thankfully with that last left I got through."

In the second quarter, Andy Criere confirmed his frontrunner status by narrowly edging out Vicente Romero (ESP). The Frenchman opened things up with his best wave and quickly backed it up while Romero's efforts proved in vain for the remainder of the heat.

Andy Criere (FRA) .Cruz16 Criere continued to wow spectators with excellent surfing. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"It was a lot bigger this morning and I was confident in my equipment and my surfing in the bigger surf," he reflected. "Selection was key out there, there were waves breaking all-over the place but not many that offered the right sections. I knew I needed something big because Vicente's backhand is lethal and he's capable of anything. I've trained a lot physically and I feel well prepared, you need a lot of energy to battle conditions like that, between the long paddle, all the duck dives, you can get pretty tired and you need to make sure you still have energy to finish off your wave right. I may have been a little bit impatient in this last heat so I'll try to work on that for the finals tomorrow."

Reunion Island's Jorgann Couzinet also kept his hopes of a maiden QS win alive with a good performance today, advancing in the semis ahead of long-time competitor Hodei Collazo (EUK). In an all-regular foot matchup this time, the difference was made on linking longer waves together as the tide pushing in allowed surfers to start way out the back and finish in the shore break.

Jorgann Couzinet (REU) .Cruz16 Couzinet times his turns perfectly for maximum spray. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I'm so stoked to win that heat, I believe it's the first time I beat Hodei and I always have a hard time against surfers of his caliber, like Jonathan (Gonzalez) last time in A Coruña," he commented. "I can't wait for tomorrow, I'm so excited to get another shot at the finals, and I'll sure try to not let this one go."

The final quarterfinal saw last remaining Portuguese surfer Jose Ferreira and Luan Carvalho (BRA) go head-to-head in a tense battle for the final semifinal ticket. Ferreira got the better of each exchange and will continue to fly the Portuguese flag high on finals day when the event resumes.

Jose Ferreira (PRT) .Cruz16 Ferreira eyes a hard landing but a spot in the semis. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

The women also ran through the quarterfinals to decide the remaining four surfers in contention for the inaugural Santa Cruz title. Surfers battled early morning in extremely difficult conditions with large sets closing the beach and strong rips sweeping surfers off the take off spot.

Carol Henrique, Maddi Aizpurua, Emily Currie and Garazi Sanchez-Ortun all managed to overcome their opponents and will face each other in the man-on-man format semifinals on Sunday.

Carol Henrique (PRT) .Cruz16 Henrique starts on an outside bomb. - WSL / Laurent Masurel

Event officials and surfers will reconvene at 10:30AM Sunday to potentially launch the final day of action in Santa Cruz.

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