The Martinique Surf Pro launched today and completed the opening round and first half of the second in decent, two-to-four foot surf at Basse-Pointe.
For the average surf fan, the opening rounds of a QS3,000-level event (a Qualifying Series contest worth 3,000 points) can seem somewhat unimportant. Today, however, was everything but that.
The event's first 16 heats were disputed in super-rippable surf, and served as a sneak peek at both a new generation of QS surfers and the local Martinique pool of talent -- to mention the extended Caribbean crew -- who were trying their luck against some of the strongest surfers on tour.
Of course, it isn't easy to make a mark on the QS, a fast-paced, tightly packed schedule of what is rightfully referred to as the grind. Today turned out to be more in favor of competitors with more experience, rather than the new guard.
The Return of Jihad Khodr
A former Championship Tour athlete who spent two full years among the then-ASP Top 44, Jihad Khodr is making a comeback on the Qualifying Series this season. He started with a bang in Martinique's Round One.
"I've been spending time working on myself, trying to understand how to be true to myself and happy," Jihad said, describing his time off tour. "I'm so happy to be here, I love islands and this one is magnificent. It's a God-given pleasure we have to appreciate and enjoy. That wave is fun too, pretty strong, and I've been lucky to find two fun ones."
A South-American Affair
Regularfooter Lucca Mesinas Novaro seemed to have a strong grasp on Heat 1 of the second round, until Brazil's Yuri Goncalves belted the winning 7.03 to relegate Mesinas to second, a mere .03 behind in the dying seconds of their exchange. Still, a former 9th-place finisher in Martinique, Mesinas scored one of the leading heat totals of Day 1 and will look to confirm his excellent form when we return to Basse-Pointe.
"The waves were really fun and with 30 minutes in the water you can afford to be patient and wait for the good ones," Lucca said. "I loved the event last year and had a good result so it was an easy decision to come back for sure. In my country there's only point breaks so I feel great here on this perfect right."
France has a say in Martinique Matters
The island is actually a territory of France, and surfers from the country of wine and cheese tried to capitalize on home-court advantage. In just two back-to-back heats, Charly Quivront, Paul Cesar Distinguin, Thomas Doumenjou and Medi Veminardi made their impression and earned tickets to Round Three, with the top seeds.
"This is essentially my first comp of the season, so I didn't really know what to expect and felt a little pressure, but I went out and had fun, and it worked out," Charly said. "I trained a lot in Hawaii this winter then at home, so I feel great but not getting ahead of myself, this is just a good start. This event is quite important for the European rankings and it's a great break in winter at home so I'm stoked to be here."
It ain't over 'til it's over
As the afternoon slips away into a warm, Caribbean night, it's easy to get distracted and take your eyes off the prize. If you left Basse-Pointe today thinking nothing would happen in the last two heats of the day, you would have missed a great deal of action.
Miguel Tudela and Slade Prestwich grabbed their top seeds' red and blue jerseys off the beach marshal and gently paddled off to the lineup. There was nothing gentle about what quickly followed: the two surfers absolutely destroyed the lineup, posting the day's highest scores, and left virtually no chance to their two opponents of Heat 6, Round Two.
Contest officials have decided of a 7:30 a.m. call Sunday for a potential great second day of action in what is expected to be bigger, more exciting surf. All results, more photos and daily highlights are available here