The men and women's QS1,500 Anfaplace Pro Casablanca started today in excellent three-to-five foot waves and light winds. The high tide lineup this morning pumped long rights mechanically and surfers took full advantage of the clean walls.
Surfers coming from Pantin didn't have much time to settle before they hit the water in Casablanca. Case and point with Mahina Maeda who finished equal third late on Sunday, drove to Madrid through the night and flew to Morocco yesterday. The lack of preparation for this event didn't seem to bother the Japanese surfer much as she took an easy win into Round Two and posted a 7.50 for her backhand attack on the rights of Casa.
"I had a pretty tough morning session but then I went out for my heat and had a lot of fun," she said. "I've been struggling with sponsors this year so I would definitely love to take out this event and it would make my life a bit easier financially. I made the switch to represent Japan this year too, both my parents are Japanese, and I really want to do well for the people there."
Garazi Sanchez-Ortun launched her Moroccan campaign just as well, surfing the same peak a couple of heats later but on her forehand. The Basque carved a clean long wall for an excellent 8 point ride and backed it up with a 6. Quarterfinalist last year in Casa, Sanchez-Ortun found conditions much easier to deal with and appreciated the glassy rights on opening day.
"I noticed the waves lacked a bit of power this morning so I made sure to control my turns and not push too hard," Sanchez-Ortun stated. "There were plenty of waves and everyone got their opportunities so it was a good heat. I like to have a strategy going into a heat and last year it wasn't as easy with bigger swell and not a defined peak."
The biggest surprise came from the Japanese crew who negotiated the first day of competition perfectly to qualify four of five surfers into Round Two. Besides Maeda, sisters Emily and Julie Nishimoto took second places, and Minami Nonaka dominated on the rights with stealth speed and big maneuvers on the closeout sections to post an impressive 15.00 point total.
"It was really fun out there," she said. "The rights are even better than they look from outside and I love surfing on my forehand so that was perfect for me. I'm only starting on the QS and we have a lot of national events at the same time so I didn't have five results yet and decided to come compete here."
In the last heat of the round, Tessa Thyssen raised the bar even higher with combinations of multiple backhand turns on the rights to post two massive numbers for a 15.84 total into Round Two.
When the men's event followed, Alex Ribeiro in the opening heat made sure he'd keep the judges panel on their toes with powerful surfing on the rights. The former Top 34 athlete nailed two excellent scores for a 16.50 total that remained un-matched for most of the day.
"Sets came all the time and the waves looked exactly like my home break so I felt right at home out there," he said. "I'm staying with Deivid (Silva) and he's the one who motivated me to come, he's won twice here so obviously he loves the place, but he also said how consistent it is, that there's always good waves. I'm stoked to be here and I hope I can make a few more heats."
Timothee Bisso (pictured up top) had a similar great start but later around low tide when the lefts started working better for him. But the main fact in his Heat 4 was the last minute move of local surfer Redouane Regragui who launched and landed a perfectly executed little forehand rotation for a 5.40 to advance in second.
The lefts at low tide occasionally presented pretty heavy sections, which Santiago Muniz was not afraid to mingle with. The Argentinian started on what looked like a closeout and negotiated two fully-committed turns on his backhand to post a near-perfect 9.50.
"Waves were so good all day with some solid sets and I just tried to do my thing," Muniz said. "We have a lot of waves like this in Brazil, that's maybe why we're good in these conditions. Deivid's won it twice and I'd love to do well here myself, we have a great group of friends here and it's going to be fun!"
Surfers will be back at 8:45 a.m Wednesday for a men's only second day of competition and potentially two rounds of the event.
Check out all the photos, videos and updates right here from September 4-9, 2018!