The Junior Pro Sopela launched today in super playful surf in the three-to-four foot range at the iconic playa de Arrietara in Sopela. A difficult forecast for the end of the waiting period prompted event officials to run a massive first day. The opening three rounds of the men's event completed, 80 surfers were sent home already while the women had a day off to practice.
The top seeds entered in Round Three and the performance level rose up a notch right away. Supergroms Noa Dupouy and Sam Piter fought it out in the lineup and eventually both advanced into Round Four. Dupouy recently caught a big break with a runner-up result in Biscarrosse but this time it was Piter who took the win.
"It was a bit tricky to find the ones with a bit of wall but my first one was fun and it gave me confidence for the rest of the heat," Piter said. "It's always cool to surf with your mates in a heat," Dupouy added. "After my runner-up in Bisca I feel really good and I want to try to win one so bad!"
The current European No. 4 Lenni Jensen brought a little power to the party and posted one of the highest single-wave scores of the day, an 8.17 for a couple of great turns on a left outside at low tide. Jensen has only started making headlines this year but came very close to clinching a first event title twice already. He's still chasing a first win and looking deadly this week.
"I got a steeper wave a bit deeper and that's where I got the 8," Jensen said. "I managed to sneak in two turns on this one and that was enough. There were some fun lefts out there. I've never been to Australia so one of my two goals is to make the Top 4 at the end of the year and qualify for the World Juniors. The other one obviously is to win an event, so it'd be cool to do it here and win a little money!"
But it was youngster Iker Amatriain who really combo'ed the field with an amazing display of carves and top turns on his forehand to post an excellent 16.00 combined heat total. Currently just outside the European Top 10, Amatriain has bigger hopes for the end of the season and will be a threat to anyone in the top spots in Sopela.
"I actually didn't know I did that well cause out the back we couldn't hear anything, but I felt good and that was a fun heat," Amatriain said. "The goal was to do as big a turn as I could cause obviously the judges couldn't see that well either with the distance, and finish the wave strong. I want to try to climb a few spots on the rankings and maybe improve my best finish, I got a third last year."
Most of the top seeds cruised their way through to Round Four with various levels of performances. Marco Mignot landed a couple of good backhand rotations in the shorey on the incoming tide and put on a good show.
After a big first day for the men's event, the call Thursday morning will be for the women's first, at 7:15 a.m, while the men can come later at 9:30 a.m.
Tune in from July 18-22, 2018 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here!