NewsJunior Pro EspinhoAfonso Antunes

Final day matchups locked and loaded at the Junior Pro Espinho

Highlights: Competitive fires flare on Day 4 of the Junior Pro Espinho
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Junior Pro Espinho blasts forward as semifinalists are named in both the men's and women's events

The great run of surf wound down today at the Junior Pro Espinho with the reeling right pits of yesterday replaced by chest-high sidewind-affected peaks. In the off-and-on drizzle spectators watched as heats oscillated between the main right off the jetty, and a warbly left down the beach.

Finding the non-closeouts became paramount to advancing out of heats. Yesterday Afonso Antunes nailed a 10 for a dredging barrel and had a tough time recalibrating his surf gears.

"When I woke up and looked at the waves, wow, it's so different from yesterday," said the Portuguese surfer. "You have to reset your surfing for the conditions and this morning during my free surf I hadn't reset and was surfing horribly. But thankfully I reset during my Round of 16 heat and advanced."

Selyann, Becret, Vaast and Antunes continue momentum heading into finals day

Zouhir Selyann (MAR) Zouhir Selyann (MAR) firing on all cylinders today WSL / Laurent Masurel

Antunes surfed a seesaw battle against Iker Amatriain in Quarterfinal Heat 3, but persevered in the final minutes, propelled by the same mojo that worked for him yesterday.

"My focus for this comp is to believe in what I can do and try to prove to myself that I can do it, and that's what got me through that heat."

As comfortable in the dredging right pits of yesterday and the choppy walls of today, Kauli Vaast continued rolling through the quarters, defeating Teva Bouchgua. Justin Becret kept his game sharp advancing over Noa Dupouy while Selyann Zouhir also advanced.

Women's semis set after quarterfinal volley of scores

Rachel Presti (DEU) Rachel Presti (DEU) surfed a smart heat to advance WSL / Laurent Masurel

A low-scoring series of quarterfinal heats saw a few flourishes with Ainhoa Leiceaga, Carolina Santos, Ellie Turner and Rachel Presti moving into tomorrow's semi finals.

"There are a lot of waves that are closing out, but there are a couple of open ones," said Presti. "My strategy was to sit on the rights, but then when I got out there the rights were too fast and so I moved over to the lefts. I ended up getting a low-scorer and then a wave better than that and fortunately it worked out and I advanced."

Presti is from Florida and has dual status, surfing as a German national. Presti's solid heat strategy saw her through the quarterfinal, and combined with her competitive fire she looks solid for finals Day tomorrow.

"I want to win! That's always the goal. But in the process, winning heats is just a confidence boost. And that helps."

Ellie Turner logged the highest scoring wave in the women's quarterfinals, a 6.83 for a solid snap in the slow, late-afternoon rights off the jetty.

"I was lucky to get that one and was able to do a snap and that got me through," said the British surfer. "I just want to get the best waves because in the semis because it's obviously the best surfers. And everyone's surfing really good so I'll have to get the best waves to get through."

Competitive fires stoked as event narrows field through Round of 16

Justin Becret (FRA) Justin Becret (FRA) found some flourish throughout the day WSL / Laurent Masurel

In the men's round of 16 Kauli Vaast, Teva Bouchgua, Selyann Zouhir and Justin Becret surfed well with Becret winning the drama award for pulling out a 9.00 in the dying seconds of his heat and advancing from third to first.

"It was a tough heat, the peak changed a lot and then I went over to the other wave down the beach," said the zippy regular foot. "My friend, well there are no friends in a heat, let me go because he didn't think it was a good wave. So I went and did a huge air. And I got the score."

In a fit of relief and a show of jubilation, the Frenchman threw out one of the more colorful claims of the event. "That was the biggest claim I've ever done but I was just so stoked. That was from the heart."

Teva Bouchgua sat frustrated most of the heat with two low scores before he snagged a wave under priority and linked several solid turns.

"I was losing and was like, 'oh dang it' it's not my day," said Bouchgua. "Then I saw that green who had priority didn't take a good wave so I was like 'ah good!' So I took it and I did the first turn and thought 'oh good' and then got the second turn and the next and advanced through the heat.I'm so happy."

Pro surf coach trend in full force for junior competitors

Lenni Jensen (DEU) Lenni Jensen (DEU) and coach Didier Piter WSL / Laurent Masurel

Of note this event is the increase in coaches among the Juniors. Contest director Filipe Anjos pointed out that more surfers on the junior tour have increased their performance level thanks to the coaching boom. Event surfer Selyann Zouhir says he's benefited from coaching in this event.

"I've been working with the Moroccan team's coach, he's like an uncle to me," said semifinalist Zouhir of Teva Bouchgua's father, Aziz. "He's helped Teva and now he's helping me. We all travel together and he points us to the right direction for finding waves and making heats."

French coach Didier Pitier has a clutch of surfers he is guiding through the event, like Lenni Jensen. Didier says about two thirds of the surfers have coaches on the junior tour.

"We see a lot of coaches because you need someone to help the surfers adapt and learn, so that's why you see so many these days," said Piter.

"Some kids have all the talent in the world but a coach will see the tides, the conditions, and more. There are so many places in competition where a coach can be wiping out the question marks that a surfer will have. That's what we're here for, to get rid of the question marks."

With the shifting lineup there were a lot question marks today. Tomorrow's forecast is similar and will demand the finalists have answers to those questions.

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