The wave factory of Pantin got in a better mood again today and pumped fun little peaks of two-to-three foot waves, perfect conditions to get the women's QS6,000 action back underway at the Pull&Bear Pantin Classic Galicia Pro.
CT Stars Dominate
The Top 17 surfers sitting on, or out of the qualifying bubble are here in Pantin to build a high enough QS ranking and solidify their spot on the CT. Unsurprisingly most of them got through quite easily, at least this morning when the surf was more consistent.
World No. 11 Silvana Lima sat on the sidelines at the VANS US Open of Surfing after injuring both her knees at J-Bay earlier this summer. She's feeling better and decided to surf two last events, here in Pantin and the upcoming Surf Ranch Pro, before getting her knees operated on, which will bring her season to an end. Today she advanced through both her heats in fine form and will look to continue to advance while preserving her health when the event resumes.
"I was extremely nervous going into my first heat but I feel much better now, I came out here for a good result and this is a great start," she said. "I'm really sad because I felt like this year I was doing well on both tours but these things (injuries) happen. I want to focus on getting healthy because I'm confident my career is not over and I'll come back stronger physically and mentally from all this."
Keely Andrew, sitting in 13th on the CT, dominated her opening heat in Pantin, setting up two big turns on a good right for a 7.50, then linking multiple backhand hacks on a left to post an impressive 15.07 heat total in the morning. She had a tougher second heat in the afternoon but managed to advance in second and kept her Galician campaign alive.
"When we came down this morning there were two peaks but that hour before we started cleaned it up well and re-defined the options," she said. "I want to finish the year strong and ideally be able to concentrate on the CT more so a good result here is super important for me."
Andrew's direct competition at No. 14 on the CT, Sage Erickson is in a similar difficult position but came out strong today in Pantin, advancing through both her heats. The two-time winner in Galicia is out chasing a big result to turn her season around and can count on years of experience competing at the famed "wave factory".
"It's been a nice few days watching the boys compete and see what was scoring and to get acclimated to this weather as well," she said. "I would love to remember how I won here twice but it feels like a long time ago and I'm just taking this year as a completely new event. Originally I started surfing because I enjoyed beauty and being in the ocean and here is just that. The coastline is beautiful and the ocean is raw, the culture is more reserved as well and the more time you spend here, the more the community embraces you."
QS Hopefuls Confirm their Form
Except for two surfers, the Qualifying Series Top 10 is thrusted by CT athletes. But behind them, a new generation is pushing to get through to one of the qualifying spots for next year's elite tour. Brisa Hennessy, Holly Wawn, Dimity Stoyle, Teresa Bonvalot and Leilani McGonagle are all still in the event and have a shot at taking a leap towards the top.
Tia Blanco who absolutely dominated the opening day of the women's event, barely got through today; not that her surfing wasn't good enough, but a poor strategy almost cost her her Pantin campaign. Sitting dead last in her Round Four heat with only five minutes on the clock, she found back-to-back rights to jump from fourth to first and finally advance.
"That heat was very stressful," she admitted. "Before the heat it was pumping on that right peak and my game plan was to get waves there and move over to the other one ten minutes in if it didn't work out. So I ended up going down the beach and pretty much surfed a five-minute heat."
Youngsters Deliver the Day's Upsets
Melania Diaz is a 14 year-old from the Canary Islands. She had a breakthrough year on the European junior tour in 2018 where she won an event and finished third overall. But nobody expected her form to compare with some of the world's best, hence the surprise was total when she won in Round Four ahead of Pauline Ado, and even more so when she later eliminated former World Champion Sofia Mulanovich in the following round.
"What I tried to do is select the best waves I was going to surf," Diaz said. "The other girls are so good that without the right waves I basically have no chance. This is not my league and It feels great to paddle out without pressure. I want to go heat by heat, enjoy this amazing event and keep learning from some of the best surfers in the world"
As the tide filled in and the swell backed off a little bit at the same time, conditions became very small and inconsistent in the afternoon and event officials decided to call it a day after four heats of Round Five.
Surfers will be back at 9 a.m Thursday to decide which from the men or women's events will go out first in Pantin. Conditions are expected to get bigger again and will likely challenge surfers on Day 4.
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