Praia de Baia showed its potential this morning, as Day 2 of the Junior Pro Espinho launched into clean, offshore rights off the jetty.
As the tide went from a morning high to a mid-day low and offshores turned to biting north wind, the rights near the jetty oscillated between fast, carve-able walls and ugly closeouts.
Vaast and Dominguez Requena nail highest heat scores
When the men's heats hit the water in the afternoon the tide was perfect and the rights fired down the bank. Although a bit lumpy by this time of the day, the sets offered high scoring potential as witnessed by Teva Bouchgua's 9.00 and Moises Domínguez Requena and Kauli Vaast's pair of eights.
"That was a great heat, and I had last priority toward the end before the other big score," said Heat 1 winner Kauli Vaast. "I did two good turns and then the last move I was scared to hit the lip, but I just went ahead and hit it and it landed it."
While most competitors chose to come in and run up the beach when the big sets pushed through, Vaast chose the paddle-through-the-lineup strategy. And it paid off.
"With this type of wave it's pretty hard to paddle back out because the waves are good size. It's really physical, because you've used all your energy, but I think it's quicker to put out the energy and paddle through the sets."
It's a strong start for the Tahitian and comes on the heels of his win at the Papara Pro Junior Tahiti. Kauli said he wants to start strong and that a good result here is part of his overall plan to finish the year in the top three and qualify for the World Junior Champs. The solid goofy foot is also up for a WSL XXL award for a bomb at Teahupoo.
"That was really intense that day," he said of his bomb in Tahiti. "It was too big to paddle that day and my friend Baptiste towed me in. He towed me into the biggest wave of my life and I'm so thankful."
Women's side of the draw uncovers some gems
On the women's side of the draw Melania Diaz had the highest heat total notching a 7.33 and a 6.27.
"The conditions were really tough," said Diaz. "There are good waves but it's hard to find the the right ones. So I was really patient and waited. And then I managed to get a 7.33 after a long wait. I got some good turns and a good finish and got the score."
But the wins were far from easy affairs. Many of the women's heats were taken with one good wave and a negligible or non-existent back up score.
Julia Gonzalez's nail-biter of a heat saw the Spanish surfer in fourth place for most of her heat until she nabbed a 6,33. The wave meant another lap around the beach and jetty to get out the back. In the dying seconds she tried to improve on her 1.57 on a solid set, but got stuck behind the foam. In the end she still squeaked through.
"I was happy to get a good wave and be able to surf it the way I wanted to," said Julia. "I got two good lip turns. So I got the score. But it was tough, I got that one closeout. It's a hard paddle back out so that cost me a lot of time."
The wave at Praia de Baia continues to shine
The same bathymetry that makes the rights off the jetty so score-able, also makes it nearly impossible to paddle back out during a solid swell.
This wave on Portugal's Green Coast is often overshadowed in the media by neighbours to the south in Peniche and Ericeira, but on its day it breaks like a heavy right point and peels for nearly 100 metres.
Local Goncalo Pina has been surfing here for 30 years and lamented that in the relatively new surf culture in Portugal, surfers don't search out waves like they do in the USA and Australia.
"If you talk to someone from Lisbon, they won't travel here to surf," said Pina. "It's too far away (2.5 hours) and they won't bother. But Frederico Morais came up here and trained before the Snapper Rocks event. Fredrico said it's a very similar wave with the same drop in front of the rocks followed by a barreling right."
Three days before the Espinho Lngboard event started the wave was lit up during a period of solid swell and offshores.
"It's one of the best waves in Portugal," continued Goncalo. "The sand sets up in the same place each year. It's really consistent."