- WSL / Laurent Masurel
- WSL / Laurent Masurel

The Junior Pro Espinho wrapped up a rollercoaster week of surf conditions today crowning Mathis Crozon and Melania Suarez Diaz event champs.

Earlier in the week the comp kicked off with two days of great waves that subsequently deteriorated, then blew up. Praia de Baia's moodswing peaked during a major tempest on Saturday that hobbled much of Portugal.

Then finals day dawned, hollow, overhead, glassy - the best of the event. Alas this was not to last.

Newly minted winners Mathis Crozon and Melania Suarez Diaz had advanced through all the different conditions and moods of the popular beachbreak, proving they can surf in anything.

Mathis Crozon (FRA) .JRProEspinho18 Mathis Crozon used his powerful backhand to take the win - WSL / Laurent Masurel

Advancing from the early rounds Mathis defeated Tahiti's Kauli Vaast in the final after advancing up the draw, surfing with a mixture of raw power, cold competitive strategy and nerves.

"I was so stressed before the heat, because it was my first final since I've been doing the pro junior events," said the Frenchman. "You had to be focused and just take the good ones, and when I got the nine, I couldn't hear if it was a nine. I couldn't hear anything. But when I got out of the water and my friend came up with my sponsor's hat I knew I'd won."

On Mathis' first wave of the heat, a lengthy right, the goofyfooter launched into a series of backside hacks drawing an 8.93 from the judges. Kauli countered with a similar wave for 8.27 then took the lead after a single-move wave to earn a 7.17. But on the next set Mathis threw a CT-level turn that sealed the deal.

Kauli Vaast (FRA) .JRProEspinho18 Kauli Vaast in the beautiful conditions at the start of the day - WSL / Laurent Masurel

Mathis was chameleon-like throughout the week, reflecting Praia de Baia's moods in his surfing, matching power with power and applying finesse where needed.

"I surfed through all the tides and conditions and I feel like I know this spot now," said Mathis. "We had everything, from soft, bumpy waves to the barrels of this morning."

Women's winner Melania Suarez Diaz surfed smart all day with a pound of stick-to-it-ness and a couple ounces of flair thrown in for good measure.

Melania Suarez Diaz (ESP).JRProEspinho18 Melania Suarez Diaz also chose the rights for the win - WSL / Laurent Masurel

The 30-minute final against Euskadi's Nadia Erostarbe started off slow with scores under two points until Melania landed a 6.17 on a set from out the back. The two goofyfooters exchanged nominal scores until Diaz nabbed a 5.17 to cement her win.

"I did well, even though the conditions were hard because of the wind," said Melania. "It was so difficult. I didn't know I'd won until I got to the beach because you can't hear anything with the wind. I only found out I'd won once I got to the beach!"

Her opponent Nadia ran hot through the entire event earning several of the highest single wave scores and appeared to peak in both the quarters and semis.

Nadia Erostarbe (EUK) .JRProEspinho18 Nadia Erostarbe consistently netted the highest wave scores - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"I just took two waves and then it took me 10 minutes to paddle back out," said Nadia of her semifinal 10.83 total. "I knew the other girl just needed a four so I was super stressed but then in the last three minutes I got that wave and the 4.83."

On the men's side Justin Becret kicked off his semifinal against Mathis with an 8.00 but Mathis snagged an 8.67 near the end. With one minute to go Justin launched a heavy re-entry, snapping his board (and all heat-winning hopes) upon landing with the lip.

The other semifinal was a tense back-and-fourth as well with Lenni Jensen exchanging the lead position with Kauli several times before the reigning European Junior Champion took a wave just under the two minute mark.

Lenni Jensen (DEU) .JRProEspinho18 Lenni Jensen was in form and came very close to advancing out of the semis - WSL / Laurent Masurel

A last-chance wave came through for Lenni to take the win, but he got tangled up with the lip.

"I started the heat with a little 5 then it got a little slow and I got nervous so I caught a lot of waves which wasn't a good option because they were low-scoring waves," said Lenni." Then on the last one, it was a very good wave, but I just got hung up and went over the falls."

Lenni looked strong through the event. Earlier in the men's quarterfinal rounds he kept his form beating wondergrom Adur Amatriain. Kauli disposed of Tiago Carrique with a solid heat score of 15.33.in the other quarter.

Mathis Crozon (FRA) and Justin Becret (FRA)  .JRProEspinho18 Justin Becret snapped his board with two minutes left in his semifinal - WSL / Laurent Masurel

Defending champion Marco Mignot went down to Justin who looked right at home in the wind-affected peaks while Mathis took out Edoardo Papa of Italy.

All the men's and women's quarters, semis and the final commenced after a firing morning for the men's round of 16. But with the apparent flick of a switch the wind went from offshore to onshore, cold, strong and out of the north once the women's quarter started.

But today will be remembered for the waves this morning, hollow, reeling beasts groomed by light offshores and well overhead to diminutive surfers like Kauli.

Juliette Lacome (FRA) .JRProEspinho18 Juliette Lacome surfed well but lost her semifinal matchup with event winner Melania - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"It was so fun out there this morning because it was offshore and the waves were just, oh, so good," said Kauli. "The direction of the swell was perfect. It was better today because the swell was cleaner and the first day of competition was really shifty and hard to be in the right place."

Check out all the photos, videos and updates from the Junior Pro Espinho Right Here

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