A new pulse of swell sent waves in the four-to-five foot range this morning in Pantin, prompting organizers to complete the remaining heats of the men's QS3,000 Pull&Bear Pantin Classic Galicia Pro Round Three as well as four heats of Round Four.
The big powerful rights and lefts in the morning challenged most competitors and it wasn't before Heat 8 that scores started approaching the excellent range. Rio Waida was the first surfer to crack the 8 bar, but even then, a few heats followed with nothing major happening.
Tristan Guilbaud brought power to the party and scored two big maneuvers to post an 8.33. He kept trying to push even more radical turns on the closeout sections but was reminded of the power of the ocean a couple of times, before finding a nicer left to post a 6.17 back up and move on to Round Four.
"I selected that peak cause I saw those big rights breaking outside with a nice reform and I got one of those right at the beginning," he said. "I went all out on a couple of tries and had pretty hard falls but in the end it was worth it because I think the judges appreciated the risk factor. With that score I drifted away from the other guys as I didn't need much to solidify my first place and I was lucky enough to find that little left too."
Ty Watson surfed two similar rights to post back-to-back solid scores and take the win of his Round Four affair against former CT surfer Leonardo Fioravanti and a couple of QS grinders. Watson's three-turn combo came in as an 8.67, the highest single number of the men's event today and won him a spot into Round Five.
"That was my game plan to stay deep at the beginning of the heat," he said. "I locked in a great wave straight off the bat and then on the paddle back out found the second wave. In the first five minutes I had two big scores, that's how you want to start every single heat I suppose. I made the final here before and I really love this place, the waves are always super fun and challenging."
Conditions got slightly easier to manage and the women's Round Six went out at mid-tide coming in. The first major battle came between Sage Erickson and Keely Andrew in Heat Two. Erickson got the better start with a good right-hander and two solid turns for a 7.67. She quickly backed it up and secured her quarterfinal berth despite Andrew's best effort to fight back.
"I really just tried to identify where my best opportunity was and I'm thankful I made that second turn on the right, a lot of time I give up a little bit on those," Erickson said. "It wasn't any crazy heat on my part but I'm thankful I made it. Some of the girls above me on the QS have lost here so I definitely have an opportunity and I'm aware of it."
World No. 9 Nikki Van Dijk was facing the youngest competitor in the field, Canary Islands' Melania Diaz, but gave her no chances whatever. The Australian scoured the lineup early on and caught multiple low scoring waves while Diaz stayed put waited for an opportunity that never came. Eventually Van Dijk started finding better waves and posted two 6s for her spot in the Quarters.
"I felt like the tide came in quite a lot while I was out there and it changed the spot," she said. "I've been watching a lot of heats and monitoring the conditions and I chose to stick to the main central peak with the lefts cause there were plenty of opportunities there."
Teresa Bonvalot, Mahina Maeda, Silvana Lima, Paige Hareb also advanced into the Quarters, without fireworks but they managed to find the best opportunities in their respective heats to take important wins.
The defending event champion Coco Ho managed to advance past Leilani McGonagle in another low-scoring affair in Heat 7. The Hawaiian who won the QS6,000 in Newcastle earlier this year has already built a strong QS tally and could potentially seal the deal on her re-qualification in Pantin with another major result.
"Surfing at the end of a long day like that is hard but the waves were good," she said. "There was a lot of distance between competitors in some heats today and I think that's the worst thing, so after we both got a score I got closer and tried to keep an even playing field. Pantin definitely kept everyone on their toes today."
Bronte Macaulay took out the final win tonight, finding two solid scores where most of the previous heats barely had one. Macaulay was extremely cautious in choosing her waves and every time she stood up, it was for a wave with potential. The full high-tide pulsed more fun lefts, the perfect canvas for the Australian to display her forehand attack.
"There were definitely some good quality rides out there," she said. "I think sometimes it was about being lucky to be in position, they were a bit tricky to find. We have two major events left, here and in Australia so it's pretty crucial for me to get two good results. I love it here it's such a beautiful place, it's where I made my first final and I have special memories here."
Surfers will be back on call at 9 a.m Friday to decide of the day's schedule.
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