The QS1,500 Senegal Pro got underway today in fun conditions at N'Gor, a secondary venue for the contest, and the iconic righthand pointbreak revealed in the movie ‘The Endless Summer'.
The swell expected to reach the primary site of competition failed to manifest this morning and event officials decided to change venues, bringing everyone to the beautiful island of N'Gor for a first day of action. Judges, priority panels and the beach announcers set up camp on a catamaran anchored by the end of the wave and the action launched in good three-to-four foot surf.
"We had a very fun first day," Oumar Seye, contest director said. "We couldn't run this morning at the main spot but we managed to get everything set up at N'Gor and it was a very special day. This is where surfing in Senegal started. We could complete both first rounds and seeing the waves now, there's even a chance we might run at the main venue tomorrow."
Africans Start Well in Round 1
The men's first round started with two African surfers taking out the opening two heats, Aboubakar Bouaouda and local surfer Louis Houmaire. But the action really heated up with Frenchmen Thomas Debierre and Mathis Crozon a little later in the round.
Debierre laid his powerful forehand carves on the rights (main photo up top) and posted two solid scores to build a healthy 13.25 heat total and advance in first out of Round 1.
"Life's really good here I'm having a lot of fun," Debierre said. "I know someone here who showed me around and gave me a few pointers, so I'm discovering everything and enjoying it. N'Gor is such a good wave to surf and it's epic to be here for a QS event. There were a lot of waves so I tried to keep busy and it worked out well for me."
Crozon on the other hand surfed on his backside and managed to score high with a vertical attack on the best sections. In his opening season as a QS campaigner, the goofy foot scored the wave of the day, an excellent 8.25 to nab his ticket for Round 2.
"It was great to be back in competition mode and get some waves," Crozon said. "It was a tough tide when I surfed, the two inside rocks ‘papi' and ‘mamie' were poking out through the lineup and you had to be careful on which waves to go. But I had fun and it's a great wave so I'm happy to make it and look forward to some more."
Europeans Dominate Women's Action
After completing men's Round 1, women's athletes took over the lineup for their own opening round. Nadia Erostarbe was the first surfer to take full advantage of the good waves on offer, destroying a couple on her backhand for a 12.75 tally.
"I didn't do my absolute best out there cause it wasn't easy to surf but I'm happy I got the job done," Erostarbe stated. "The lineup was moving a lot and it was hard to find which waves were going to open up but it's been a good first experience. People are so nice here I'm super happy to be in Senegal."
Camilla Kemp performed a very similar heat but on her forehand and racked up two 6+ scores of her own to make it out of Round 1.
"That first round is always a little nerve-wracking so it's good to get it out of the way," Kemp said. "I had no idea what the scores were because we couldn't hear it in the lineup but I was satisfied with how I surfed and felt like I did what I needed to do. I didn't take too much risk because in 20 minutes you can't take that many waves, so I played it a little safe out there. It's such an adventure to be here and so different from other events, very fun!"
Peony Knight took it one step further in Heat 7 and scored the day's biggest heat with a solid 13.70 total and a spot into Round 2. The British surfer made light work of the conditions on hand and looks poised to take home a good result in Senegal.
"That wave has such a nice wall, it's super nice to be surfing here in a competition," Knight said. "I had never surfed that wave before but it's so much fun it didn't really matter I felt ready to go. It's so amazing to be on a tiny island and have the judges on that boat it's so surreal and so beautiful here. I was bit nervous coming here all on my own but everyone has been so welcoming, I have a lot of support from the people from the surf camp I'm staying in, it's beautiful, I love it!"
Surfers and event officials will be back at 8 a.m Friday to make a call at the primary venue of Surfer Paradise.
The Senegal Pro will unfold from March 27-31, check out daily recaps, pictures, videos and full results right here.