The Caparica Surf Fest powered by Oakley QS3,000's event wrapped up in pristine conditions with clean three foot surf groomed by a strong offshore wind. Here's a breakdown of the event's finals.
Both Ellie Turner and Pauline Ado got busy early in the Final, threading rides on the clean little lefts and rights to quickly post a few scores on the board. The former Champion Tour surfer Ado got the better of the early exchanges with a 6.50 and 5.67 to apply pressure on junior athlete Turner from the get-go.
Midway through the heat, Ado continued to build momentum on the rights, posting a 7.27, then found a brilliant left only minutes after and went to town on it for an excellent 8.77 to put her opponent in a combination situation. The French surfer further complicated things for Tuner when she improved her backup score to an 8.23 on another reeling right-hander.
Turner tried her best on a couple of other waves but Ado was impossible to stop as she went on to post a near-perfect 9.23 to claim the 2019 title in Caparica. A five-year veteran on the CT, Ado collected several accolades throughout her career, including six European titles and multiple event wins. This latest victory and the incredible form she displayed all-week will propel her towards the next stops on the Qualifying Series with her longtime goal in mind, to re-join the elite level by year's end.
"It was great to get some good scores and really fun waves," she said. "I was a little bit concerned with the high tide but I kept on building scores and it was really fun. My main goal was to showcase my best surfing more than the result itself, of course winning is always the goal but scores like this are really encouraging."
Turner had a fantastic run in Portugal, claiming a runner-up in the recent Junior Pro Espinho before coming to Caparica to reach another Final, this time on the Qualifying Series. She also featured in the QS four-woman Final in Caparica last year, and with the runner-up today adds another stellar result in her young career.
"I was pretty gutted to get knocked out of the juniors so soon but I'm super happy to have made it all the way to the Final in the QS today," she said. "Pauline was ripping, it was near-impossible to win and I'm super happy with my result."
Couzinet started early on a left and strung together beautiful turns to post the first excellent score of the Final, an 8.50 to kick things off. Young answered with a slightly softer approach for a 6.33 to stay in fighting distance. Both surfers defended their main score quickly and the battle was on.
Around the 10-minute mark and as the ocean seemed quiet, arguably the best set of the day rolled through. Young was sitting without priority but Couzinet was nowhere in position for it and the goofy-foot proceeded to destroy the lengthy right. The Californian went vertical a number of times and posted a near-perfect 9.80 to turn the situation and push Couzinet against the ropes.
With only minutes on the clock, and no more waves on tap, Young walked away with the win, his first event victory in seven years.
"It feels amazing for sure, it's been a long road to get back here," he said. "It just felt great to put a heat together and then a few in a row, make the final day and then fight ti fight back when Jorgann got that really good start to be able to come back was great. I was so lucky to get that perfect wave, it just stood up perfectly and I had a good rhythm on it so I knew it was a good score. Portugal has always been a place I love to come to, waves are awesome and I love the people so it's been a great week."
Young surfed five straight seasons on the Championship Tour between 2013 and 2017, and claimed the prestigious Rookie of the Year title in his first year on tour. Dropping off at the end of 2017, Young will now take 3,000 ranking points home and take a boost up the qualifying series rankings in his effort to get back with the world's Top 34.
Couzinet on the other hand is still chasing his first Top 10 finish on the QS, synonym of accession to the CT. The French power surfer from Reunion Island finished in the Top 20 the past two seasons and is due a big break on the international scene. His performances in Caparica and Santa Cruz last week mean 2019 could be the year.
"You can't give guys like Nat any sort of shot or they'll take it," he reflected. "I had the priority and I should have been near him at all times, if he didn't surf this one wave that trophy would be mine so I'm disappointed of course but I'll learn from that for sure. Hats off to Nat, he's an incredible surfer and he seized that opportunity and killed it on that wave. I'm patient, I haven't won this one but it'll come my way at some point, and I'll be ready for it."
With the completion of the Caparica Surf Fest powered by Oakley QS3,000's event, the European rankings have changed again, here's the new current Top 5:
QS surfers will now focus on the Cabreiroá Pro Zarautz Basque Country presented by Oakley coming up from May 8-12, 2019.
Watch the Caparica Surf Fest powered by Oakley LIVE on the WSL platforms from April 15-20, and check out daily recaps, pictures, videos and more right here.