It was crunch time at the QS1,500 Anfaplace Pro Casablanca as competitors eyed qualification for the finals which should happen tomorrow. Surfers took on clean three foot surf this morning and competition ran through the men's Round Four as well as the men and women's Quarterfinals. Here are the main facts of the day:
The Brazilian crew suffered a big blow on Day 4 with only two surfers making the semis. Two-time winner Deivid Silva will not go for the three-peat as he couldn't advance past compatriot Alex Ribeiro in their Round Four bout.
Ribeiro secured his ticket for the semis in the dying seconds of an ultra tight battle with Vitor Mendes. Mendes with priority started on a set and actually turned the heat but behind him Ribeiro selected the very next wave and scored the heat's best wave for the win.
Dylan Lightfoot the last remaining African surfer in the event (co-sanctioned between Europe and Africa), continued to progress and dispatched Frenchman Paul Cesar Distinguin in their Quarterfinal matchup. The great back-and-forth battle between the two surfers almost went the other way when Distinguin pulled a big forehand rotation on the buzzer, but he came just short of the required score and Lightfoot took the second ticket for the semis.
"i'm super stoked to get past him, Paul is a great surfer in conditions like this so it was never going to be easy," he said. "This result will better my overall tally on the QS and I really want to get into the QS10,000 so it will help for sure. It's such a fun little right bowl I'm just stoked i get to surf it again tomorrow. I've come second three times in QS events so fingers crossed I can go all the way here."
The third Quarter was a one-way affair with Santiago Muniz dominating from start to finish. Leandro Usuna never found a wave of consequence while Muniz was on the right sets, scoring a 7.00 for a long left north of the judges podium.
Quarterfinal Four came with huge expectations from the Moroccan crowds as local hero Ramzi Boukhiam took on Weslley Dantas. Boukhiam lead the heat for most of it but Dantas pulled his magic on the eight minute mark with an incredible forehand rotation which came in as a 9.33. The Moroccan didn't back down and fought back with a long left and countless carves for an 8.50. In the last few seconds, both surfers found a last wave, Boukhiam once again turned the heat but Dantas' final effort improved his back up and the Brasilian eliminated Boukhiam from competition in equal fifth.
Boukhiam's exit from competition sealed the deal on the 2018 European title race, Jorgann Couzinet claiming his second consecutive title as the Moroccan needed to reach the final to overtake the Frenchman. In the women's, Pauline Ado secured her sixth European crown last week in Pantin.
The opening women's Quarter was a slow heat, but Mahina Maeda found a great left to kick things off and lead the bout all the way. The ocean went extremely quiet for the remainder of the heat, and while the Japanese managed to back up her main score, Nadia Erostarbe never really surfed a decent wave.
The following matchup got a lot more interesting as sets started rolling through again. Garazi Sanchez-Ortun and Carol Henrique both attacked the rights on their forehand. The lead changed hands a few times and when the dust settled, Sanchez-Ortun advanced into the Semis for the second time this season.
"Carol is one of the toughest competitors and I think the both of us put on a good show," she said. "The spot changed a little bit after the last heat and we were lucky to get a lot more waves. I love this right, a long wave is great to work with and it's so much better for everyone. I hurt my back a while ago and I'm just on my way back, not at 100% yet but definitely feeling better so it's good to make a few heats."
The final women's Quarter was a goofy foot battle between Tessa Thyssen and Leilani McGonagle. The Caribbean Thyssen wasted no time to put two good scores on the board and put pressure on the Costa Rican. McGonagle replied with a couple of average waves but they were no match for her opponent's power on her backhand. Thyssen is already guaranteed a season-best result and will try to reach a first-ever QS final when the event is back on tomorrow.
"I've never surfed against Leilani so I was really looking forward to the challenge," she said. "We both fought pretty hard and I'm super happy to have found the right waves, I feel like I understand how that spot works. This is a pretty terrible season for me so I've decided to just enjoy myself in the last few events, there's no pressure anymore so it's all about having some fun surfing."
Surfers will be back at 12 p.m Saturday to potentially launch the finals of the 2018 Anfaplace Pro Casablanca.
Check out all the photos, videos and updates right here from September 4-9, 2018!