A new pulse of swell built overnight and reached the shores of Southwest France this morning allowing the Caraïbos Lacanau Pro to resume in clean surf - until a strong North wind came to spoil the party.
Most top seeds of the event advanced in first out of the men's Round Four, including the current World No. 6 on the QS Jorgann Couzinet who's coming from an excellent Semifinal finish at the Vans US Open of Surfing. Finishing one spot outside the CT qualifying zone last year, Couzinet is determined to build momentum and arrive in a much stronger position in Hawaii at the end of the year.
"The US Open has been an extremely intense 10-day experience for me," he said. "I was up extremely early every day, surfing and training, I really wanted to make the best out of it and show what I can do. I gave it a 150% and I can feel the toll it's taken on me as I felt a little sick when I came home after. I'm starting to feel better now and very excited to do well here in Lacanau. It's an event I've never really performed at, so I want to change that."
The French contingent did well on Day 4 in Lacanau, with 14 surfers making their way into the last 32, including a couple of young athletes who turned their heats at the last moment to keep their Lacanau campaign alive.
Junior surfer Tiago Carrique was sitting dead last with two low scores on the board when the end of the heat neared. But the young Frenchman waited patiently with first priority and finally found a good right to lay down his backhand attack and post an excellent 8 point ride to advance.
"I started pretty bad that heat with just a 3 something," he explained. "But then I decided to just keep my position and wait for something good. Thankfully I got a fun one at the end. It was a good set wave and a little bit hollow so I managed to hit the sections well. I have absolutely no pressure here so I can go for broke if I need it and I hope I can make a couple more heats."
Enzo Cavallini was in a similar difficult position but didn't have the luxury of first priority. So he took the opposite approach and got busy trying to find anything in the moving lineup. When a big section presented itself, Cavallini threw caution to the wind and launched into a big and inverted backhand rotation to post an 8.33, the highest number today, and advance as well.
"These are hard conditions to just find a wave with two turns," he reflected. "I've been trying to land airs in comps cause in free surfs they usually work well. I saw Tristan (Guilbaud) come on the right and he had priority so I wasn't sure if I should go, but at that point I had nothing to lose. I just went for it and thankfully made the air so I was stoked. I'm not sure how high I went or if I completed the rotation in the air, but it felt like a good one so I'm happy I got the score."
The top seeded women's Round Three followed and witnessed a few upsets, including the early elimination of Pauline Ado by form Tahitian ripper Karelle Poppke and the local wildcard Juliette Brice's last-second elimination.
The defending champion Philippa Anderson started well on the other hand and took a first heat win to move into Round Four. A perennial threat on the QS, Anderson is still chasing that "perfect" season to achieve her goal of qualifying for the Top 17. With a strong start in 2018 and a current 10th position on the rankings, now is the time for the Australian to build momentum into the back half of the year.
"It's always hard to come back as the defending champ cause there are expectations that you can win," she said. "But I didn't let that affect me. We got in on Monday so it was a while until I hit the water but it was good to have a few days to fight the jet lag and I feel great now. I always love coming to Europe and it's even better when I make it through a few heats. It's a long year and there are a few more events to come so I'm taking it heat by heat and just trying to keep adding results. I feel really appreciative of what we do now, and thankful for the support from my sponsors, family and friends that allow me to have this career."
Lacanau's accomplished waterwoman Justine Dupont managed to take a win as well. Recently signed ambassador for ‘Girondins Sport Events', the organizers of the Caraïbos Lacanau Pro, the former CT athlete will want to do well for her first event under the dark blue and white colors of the club.
"I've never won here in Lacanau so there's still work to do!" she said. "Conditions were tough with that wind and rip through the lineup but I'm happy with that good start. There are a lot of girls that rip in this event, a lot of big scores drop so it's not going to be an easy one, but that's how competition goes. You can beat anyone and you also can lose to anyone. But that goes to show there are more and more girls surfing at the highest level and that's a great thing to see and be a part of."
Placing second behind Dupont was Argentina's Lucia Indurain, a newcomer on European soil. The talented regular foot destroyed a good right-hander with snaps and finished strong to post an excellent 8 point ride, the highest wave of the women's round, later equalled by Zahli Kelly.
"I'm really happy I was able to show a little bit of what I can do and get that good score," she said. "The rip and wind made it very difficult to stay in the right place in the lineup, but there were really fun waves out there if you were in position. It's my first time coming to Europe, I loved going to England last week and so far I really like being here in Lacanau as well."
With a promising forecast for the last two remaining days of the waiting period, surfers will be back at 7:45 a.m Saturday for another early start of the men's Round Five, while the women have a call at 10 a.m.
Tune in from August 14-19, 2018 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here!