The beachbreak at Praia de Baia has been kind to the Junior Pro Espinho. Europe's next generation of competitors have just wrapped up two full days of fun, contestable surf in chilly temps under clear skies.
Today saw a full tray of heats pass through the lineup as hopefuls from across Europe battled it out in surf that, while not as stellar as yesterday morning, didn't suffer from the same heavy afternoon winds.
In burgeoning surf scenes throughout Europe more and more junior surfers are entering the ranks with hopes of a professional future and a place in the big leagues.
In all 131 men and 43 women (including alternates) went into the draw for this event. After 28 heats run today there were 64 juniors left standing.
Las year's event winner Marco Mignot put in a strong performance in his seeded Round 3 heat as did rising talents Lenni Jensen, Mathis Crozon and Guilherme Ribeiro who all knotched high heat tallies today.
"It was the first heat of the year pretty much for me and I felt kinda lost out there," said the defending champion. "I found a couple waves then I saw that left come through and I got two turns so I got the scores I needed. I'm stoked to move through and I can't wait for the fourth round."
Diego Suarez Diaz won his Round 3 heat with two steady scores, nothing exceptional but it was enough to see him through.
"The heat was slower than I would have liked," said Diego. "I like to start the heats quick but the conditions are tricky and I didn't find a wave at the beginning. But then I found a five and I improved the score on a right."
With 20-minute heats surfers were under the gun to get two good scoring waves. Dean Vandewalle from Belgium squeaked through his Round 3 heat and echoed those familiar notes of early round stress sung by all the non-seeded competitors.
"It was just stressful, but luckily I got two waves," said Dean. "But it was a totally stressful heat. The waves are fun and there are some good ones but it's easy to be out of position and you have to be in just the right spot."
Dylan Groen of Germany went down on a priority interference on a day that was full of interference calls. Dylan tangled with Tom Goasguen on a left which cost him his second highest scoring wave. In all the day chalked up an unusually high tally of interference calls today.
Head judge Nuno Trigo attributed today's large count of missteps to inexperience in the junior ranks.
Nuno explained that when a surfer paddles for a wave he or she loses priority and it's the surfer's responsibility to check the priority panel on the beach or on the judges tower.
"They don't look at the priority panels to see who has priority," said Nuno. "Sometimes they will only listen to the commentators so when the next wave comes through they think they have priority after they have paddled for a wave, but really they don't."
Nuno added that while the WSL panel system is widely used, it's not ubiquitous.
"I think most of the young ones are getting used to a priority system like ours that relies on panels. But for some of the surfers it's a new thing. Maybe at home in their regional events they use another system. But here they need to look at the panels and not depend only on just the beach announcer."
Four surfers in all were flagged for priority violations today. Welcome to the big leagues.
Tune in from March 21-25, 2018 and check out all the photos, videos and updates from the Junior Pro Espinho.