The Junior Pro Espinho is on a roll this week as each day's surf improves on the previous day's offerings. While the swell dropped a tad, the conditions cleaned up even more, dishing out clean open faced gems as well as a few barrels. However, life is not always that easy.
Wave choice again was key today, as some of the bigger sets closed out and the smaller sets would back off the sand bank, refusing to break.
Afonso Antunes scores event's first 10
Afonso Antunes scored the event's first 10 with a heavy barrel in Heat 12 of Men's Round of 64. The wave stacked up on the bar and looked like just another closeout at first. But then…
"I saw that the wave was a double up and I wasn't sure if I should go because it had a long wall and some of those waves are closing out," said the Portuguese surfer. "But I just didn't think too much about it and just went. I was pretty deep and at one point I thought I wasn't going to make it, but the board stuck to my feet on the foamball and I was able to make it out."
When the buzzer sounded, Antunes walked away with the highest heat total of the event so far, an 18.77. The powerful regular foot is taking it slow, enjoying the moment and going by the "one heat at a time" cliche.
"My plans for this year are to have fun and have a chance to hang out with friends and make some new friends. But then, maybe I'm gonna focus on a title at the end of the year."
Eye of the tiger as field moves to pointy end
In Heat 14 Selyann Zouhir committed a priority interference on Rodrigo Lebre getting in his way on a set wave. Lebre ended up breaking his board ldown the line and lost a lot of time finding a replacement from his caddy. The Portuguese powerhouse did not advance.
Zouhir ended up scoring a long right and series of blistering turns to earn a 6.83. Combined with his 0.00 due to the priority blunder, he still won the heat on just one wave scored.
Becret enjoyed the ripping rights near the jetty, posting an 8.33 and a 7.5 to solidly win his heat.
"I started pretty slow with a 5 then I saw my friend Kepa throw a 7 so I thought ‘oh, now I have to do something.' And that wave I got could have been a nine, but I surfed in conservatively. Then the 8.33 came through."
Women's Quarterfinalists decided in heated action
Deciding the women's quarters was a mixed affair with either lopsided one-wave heat wins or a combination of low-mid score heat wins. Carolina Santos, Ellie Turner, Juliette Lacome and Lucia Machado showed form as the event moves into the pointy end.
Lucia surfed solid and safe to advance with a couple of mid-range scores in a rather lacklustre heat.
"The waves were really difficult and a lot of the waves were closing out," said the Gran Canaria resident. "So I just took two smaller waves and did some turns that were OK, nothing special, and that was enough to get me through the heat."
But it was Turner and Lacome who fired up the scoreboard as the women's day drew to a close. The French surfer posted an 8.00 for the highest score of the women today while Ellie showed solid determination notching two-upper mid range scores to secure the heat win.
Waves of Espinho once again take center stage
Taking nothing away from today's surfers on both sides of the event, but the the waves were the true stars today. While favouring regular foots, the fast waves off the bar offered heaps of scoring potential, as witnessed by Antunes' 10 and Justin Becret's 8.33.
Becret acknowledged as much, re-iterating how much he likes the surf at Praia de Baia.
"We're lucky to have a bank like that this year," said the Frenchman. "We don't always have a bank like that and I love that right. It's hollow. It has power. It's fast."