The Junior Pro Sopela wrapped up today in tricky one-to-two foot surf but the forecast didn't offer much opportunity for the remaining two days of the event's waiting period. Here's a breakdown of Finals day:
By the time the Finals hit the water, the lineup was completely blown out by the strong Northwest winds and the waves didn't quite offer the same scoring potential they did in the previous rounds. Marco Mignot started the Final with a right and managed to fit in a few good turns for a 6.50 to take the lead.
Diego Suarez Diaz surfed shorter waves, but on a left he pushed a solid snap to post a 5.17 on a single turn. Throughout the heat Mignot continued to select the better options which further improved his lead, earning an excellent 8.00 on two solid backhand hits in the pocket.
Despite multiple efforts, Suarez Diaz could never quite threaten Mignot for the lead and the Frenchman eventually walked away with his second victory of the season.
"It's awesome to win a second event this season," Mignot said. "I've always wanted to do good here, it's a place I really like coming to and my cousin won here a few years back so I wanted to win it too. Waves were tricky in the end, but we had some really fun conditions earlier on. I'm super confident with the win here and I hope it helps to finish it off well."
After winning the Caparica Junior Pro earlier this year, Mignot with a second win, a third place and a fifth grabbed the rankings lead with only one more event to finish the 2018 season - which is next month in Galicia.
"My goal was to win the event so I'm stoked I could reach that goal," he continued. "It's going to be a really interesting finish with Justin (Becret). Both of us are in good form and it's going to be tough in Pantin. Everyone else is ripping too so I don't want to get ahead of myself. I'll just try my best again in the next one."
Prior to today, Diego Suarez Diaz had never reached the Final of a junior event and his best result was a 7th in Biscarrosse two years ago. He'll rocket up the rankings and land in 12th position heading into the last event.
"I'm super stoked to make my first Final, especially cause I haven't had a good result so far this year," Diaz said. "It's great to do it in Spain too! I'm hoping I can go to Pantin and try to get another good result there, but it's going to be tough to crack the Top 4."
In the women's Final, Neis Lartigue started her 25-minute bout perfectly right, with a two-turn combination on her backhand to post an excellent 8.00 point ride and apply pressure on her opponent from the get-go. She continued to surf everything she could find and posted a 5 right away to put her opponent Iara Dominguez in a combination situation.
The Spaniard, who produced some of the finest surfing all week, seemed a little bit lost in the shifting lineup, unable to spot the right waves. She eventually found short waves but couldn't match Lartigue's scores on single maneuvers.
The situation remained unchanged and Lartigue claimed back-to-back wins in Sopela as the defending champion from 2017. Her best result this season pushed her as high as No. 4 on the European rankings. Now, a big result in Pantin could allow her to qualify for the World Junior Championship.
"I'm extremely happy to be able to keep my title here in Sopela, especially cause it might be my last junior event," Lartigue said. "I wouldn't say I loved those waves, but I am definitely used to surfing in these kind of conditions so I felt alright here. I didn't really plan to do the last one, but maybe now I have a shot at qualifying so I'll have a hard think about it."
Dominguez, who lives nearby and has only entered this Sopela junior event for the past three years, has clearly improved a lot since last season and became an instant threat as she put on the jersey in Round One.
"In general that was a great event for me," Dominguez said. "In that Final I didn't really find anything to surf like I wanted, but I'm happy I've had a lot of fun this week. I'm hoping I can do Pantin now cause it's my last season as a Junior and I really want to compete some more. I'll definitely try my luck in some of the European QS next year."
With the completion of the Junior Pro Sopela, the European rankings suffered a few alterations, here are the new current Top 5:
The final event of the season will bring the best juniors to Galicia for the Pantin Junior Pro by Gadis from August 24-26 to decide the 2018 European Champions and qualifiers for the World Junior Championship.
Tune in from July 18-22, 2018 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here!