Conditions settled down a little bit from yesterday to resume the Anfaplace Pro Casablanca in clean, three-foot surf this morning. The day started with the remaining four heats of the men's Round Two before moving on to the women's event.
While the rounds opening action aren't usually the most exciting, Paige Hareb gave us a perfect counter example, ripping right from the start of the women's Heat 1 to belt the day's best combined scores for her spot into Round Two. Paige is in her third year trying to re-qualify for the Championship Tour, of which she was a resident for five years straight, and currently looking pretty close to making it back, at No. 9 on the Qualifying Series rankings.
"That heat went well considering my surfboards only arrived this morning," she explained. "I've been here four days, just borrowing some of the other girls' boards but they're just not the same as your own and it plays a little bit with your mental game and confidence. I wasn't really thinking about results when I decided to come here. This is a new country for me and I wanted to come and be a bit of a tourist and check it out. I haven't explored too much yet but I look forward to seeing more."
Tessa Thyssen followed shortly after with a good performance of her own, surfing a good- looking wave to a 7.33 to advance in first. For her second full qualifying effort, Tessa cracked the QS Top 30 but looks eager to climb much higher in the back half of the season.
"I had a couple of decent results this season but only in the smaller events," she stated. "I'm still struggling on the big ones, but I'm excited to give it another go next year. I work a lot with a coach in St. Barth who prepares me physically and a little bit mentally as well so I'm hoping the work will pay off. I've also been traveling a fair bit aside from the events and it helps keep my love of surfing well alive."
Traveling through Europe for the summer leg of the QS, Tessa had to watch the recent storms hit her home island of St. Barth and was visibly affected by the critical situation in the Caribbean. She will have the opportunity to surf in an expression session on Saturday, where the prize money will be entirely given to an NGO helping local communities in the area.
"It's really hard for us to watch all this unfold from the distance, we just feel completely useless for them," she continued. "The whole island was destroyed and it's a part of our youth that's just gone. In the worst of times though, the communities there stick together and the solidarity everyone showed was really special, it makes us even prouder."
A recent runner-up in Cornwall at the Boardmasters, Mikaela Greene hasn't yet managed to reach the finals again on the European leg and looks to make it through a few more rounds in Casablanca. Her start in the event was great, with an excellent 8-point ride to take the win. Unfortunately for the Greene clan, her sister Eliza was less fortunate as she suffered a last-second comeback from French surfer Nina Reynal and was pushed out in third place.
"I knew that we were coming up to the high tide and I was aware that the waves were going to be slowing down a bit so I tried to be patient at first with waves out the back and was going to come in if it didn't work out," Mikaela said. "I've been learning a lot and taking small things from each of my heats and it's been going good. This is my last event internationally before going home to compete in the Sally event in November, so I'm using this to build more experience."
The very last heat of the day was a nail-biter for the women's European title race as the current leader Carol Henrique took on the next generation of athletes coming out of the region. Carol couldn't contain the repeated assaults of Peony Knight and Neis Lartigue and eventually bowed out in Round One. She will now have to watch the title race unfold from the sidelines as her main opponent, Garazi Sanchez-Ortun, is still in contention in Morocco.
The next call will happen Friday at 9 a.m and decide the schedule for Day 4 of competition with a potential re-start of either the men or women's event.
Anfaplace Shopping Center also continued to bring plenty of fun around the event, for example with their food "court" right on the beach to feed all the hungry surfers and tourists.
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