Things got serious all of a sudden on Day 3 of the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley. Not only because the event's top seeds entered the arena in Round Four, but also because conditions changed dramatically from the previous two days.
A bigger swell came overnight and served up solid four-to-six foot surf carrying a lot of power despite the continued strong side-onshores in Santa Cruz.
Aritz Aranburu is no stranger to bigger waves and he proved it early this morning, scoring the first excellent score of the day with a radical backhand two-turn combo for an 8.67. His commitment on a meaty left to hit the lip twice and airdrop out of his second turn set the scale for all the following surfers in Round Four.
"Waves are really fun when you catch them but the rip is so strong it's definitely not easy out there," he said. "I usually complain when conditions are too small so no complaining from me here, there's enough size and power to have a lot of fun. I've been coming to Portugal for over twenty years and it's my favorite destination in the world."
Jake Marshall continued to cruise thought the rounds, keeping his winning form intact on the third day of competition. The Californian had a similar approach on the lefts and managed to advance in first ahead of one of the form Europeans of the moment Maxime Huscenot.
"I feel like I've been in a good rhythm since I've been here in Santa Cruz and I'm having a lot of fun," Marshall said. "I've been to Portugal a few times and arrived early here so I definitely had time to wear off the jet lag and get used to the conditions. I think my board got glassed a bit more heavy by accident but it turns out it's perfect for the conditions with that strong wind, it helps it sticking to the wave."
But what everyone in Santa Cruz was mostly waiting for was Heat 8 and Frederico Morais's debut in Portuguese waters. The current World No. 14 did not disappoint and found a couple hidden gems in the rough lineup to post a 14+ heat total and move on in pole position.
"You can lose in Round One, whether in a CT or a QS1,000," he reflected. "Everyone competing here are very good surfers and you can never take anything for granted in this sport and think you'll have an easy heat. In these conditions, whoever finds the waves will have an advantage, no matter how they surf them. A win here would be very special but I don't want to get ahead of myself."
Jadson Andre stuck to the main storyline of CT and ex-CT surfers advancing, with a good heat to make his way into Round Five as well, alongside Aritz and Frederico, Miguel Pupo, Kanoa Igarashi and Ryan Callinan. On the other hand, Wigolly Dantas, Leonardo Fioravanti and Joan Duru failed to capitalize on their experience at the highest level, unable to navigate the tricky lineup of Santa Cruz today.
Surfers and event organizers will reconvene at 9 a.m Friday again to reassess conditions for a potential crucial day of action in Santa Cruz.
Check out all results, photos and video highlights from the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley from April 24-29.