- WSL / Damien Poullenot
- WSL / Damien Poullenot
Highlights: Pro Zarautz launches in Building Swell
The Cabreiroá Pro Zarautz Basque Country pres. by Oakley starts in small but clean and consistent surf.

The Cabreiroá Pro Zarautz Basque Country pres. by Oakley got underway in clean two foot surf today and ran a massive first day of competition to capitalize on every bit of swell on offer. The event completed the opening rounds of both the men and women's divisions as well as half of the men's second round.

From Brittany to Euskadi, Junior Women Rule Day One

In the women's field, young surfers were in the spotlight in the opening round, coming in hot from the E.Leclerc Pont-l'Abbe Junior Pro La Torche last week. Juliette Lacome, who was a noted absentee in Brittany opened her campaign in the opening heat with a solid display and an easy win into Round 2.

Finalist last Sunday, Ellie Turner picked up right where she left off with an impressive first win and the round's highest heat total. The British surfer felt right at home in the small surf and was excited to be putting on the competition jersey again in a new place.

Ellie Turner (GBR) during Round 1 of the Cabreiro Pro Zarautz Basque Country pres. by Oakley 2019 Ellie Turner - WSL / Damien Poullenot

"It was fun and there were enough sets for everyone to get waves," she said. "I'm traveling with my parents in a van so we just had a nice drive down the coast and a stop-over in Southwest France before coming here. I'm not super familiar with Zarautz but it looks really nice from what I've seen, the center of town and all. The wave has a fair bit of push so you can actually put a bit more power in your turns."

A couple of heats later, Elisa Cazenave turned a tricky heat into another great performance as she entered her very first Qualifying Series event of a young and promising career.

"The first ten minutes with no waves were pretty stressful and thankfully we got a re-start," she said. "I got a little bit of rest but also had to go back to school after La Torche so it's a lot but I'm trying to manage both equally as well. I also talked with my coach Romain Laulhe and I want to try to keep the same spirit I had last week, especially cause I have less pressure here in a QS."

Injured Surfers on a Comeback Score Opening Day Wins

The men's second round paddled out right before high tide and conditions got trickier by the minute until finally the new swell starting showing first signs in the early evening. Two surfers with different career paths but similar recent stories managed to get the best out of those conditions to post good scores and advance into Round 3.

Perennial threat Maxime Huscenot entered the event late and started in the opening round, rounding up two wins on the first day of competition to get back into rhythm. The talented Frenchman who's been knocking on the door of qualification for years, is coming back from a knee injury that kept him out of the water for the better part of the early season.

Maxime Huscenot (FRA) during round 2 of the Cabreiro Pro Zarautz Basque Country pres. by Oakley 2019 Maxime Huscenot - WSL / Damien Poullenot

"The injury happened in February but I only realized it later," he said. "It wasn't anything dramatic but I had to take some time off. I've been through similar circumstances before and my goals are extremely clear, to do well on the major events of the season, so I knew I had to step back and heal properly. Accepting this is never easy but I look at that time off as an opportunity to improve on things I normally don't have time for. It's a bit cliche but the goal is to come back stronger than before the injury."

Former full-time competitor turned free surfer Vincent Duvignac is also coming off an injury and was amped to get back into the lineup, excited as ever to wear the competition vest. Duvignac has been posting epic free surfing clips all winter, chasing massive swells at home, but looked equally as comfortable in the small peaks and under competition pressure.

Vincent Duvignac (FRA) during Round 2 of the  Cabreiro Pro Zarautz Basque Country pres. by Oakley 2019 Vincent Duvignac - WSL / Damien Poullenot

"I had such a hard time just waiting for my turn it's excruciating," he said. "I've only been back in the water for like 3 surfs before today so I couldn't wait. I know I'm not 100% yet but I was stoked to get back into it and tried my best. I've had probably the best autumn and winter of my life, I scored just the best waves right in Mimizan and it was great to stay home and surf heaps."

Competition wrapped up just before dark and will be back on very early tomorrow Thursday as the forecast for the end of the week doesn't seem to offer much potential. Surfers and event officials will be back on deck at 8 a.m for the next call.

Tune in from May 8-12, 2019 to watch the event LIVE (starting Friday) and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here on worldsurfleague.com!

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