Building up on the inaugural Senegal Pro that unfolded earlier this year, a crew of three talented surfers from the emerging African country on the surfing scene traveled to France in hopes of building experience against some of the best Qualifying Series surfers in the region and the world.
Cherif Fall, Sidy Camara and Thierno Samb all got their campaigns underway on the first day of action at the Caraïbos Lacanau Pro today with mixed results but plenty of motivation and smiles all around.
Fall was the first to compete, in a tough matchup with up-and-coming Kiwi Te Kehukehu Butler and former competitor Damien Chaudoy . The powerful goofy foot managed to find a few clean lefts to lay down his carves and advanced in second with a decent total.
"I'm super happy to be here in Lacanau, I actually came here a few years ago for this event," he said. "This is the first heat I've made on the QS so I'm very happy. I feel like my surfing is good but I get overwhelmed and really stressed out in competitions so it was nice to finally have a good heat where I felt alright and could show my surfing."
The Senegalese trio received the support of the Smile Wave Fund to organize their trip overseas as neither surfers really have strong sponsorship deals to cover their travel expenses.
"Thank's to the fund I was able to enter eight events this season and that makes a big difference for us to gain a lot of experience," he added.
In the following heat Camara also managed to hang on to the second qualifying spot despite tricky conditions and a lack of waves surfed (8 waves in total for all 3 surfers).
"Waves were a bit small for me but thankfully I have a really good board for these conditions and it helped me," he said. "This is my first time competing here and waves look pretty fun. It's really nice to be traveling with friends and it's always good to have people you know and can talk to about your heats and conditions etc."
Samb unfortunately was let down by conditions or the lack of coaching within the group, as waves disappeared on the bank he had opted to surf. While his two opponents chose to part ways and try their luck on either sides of the sand bank, Samb chose to stay out front and couldn't fin any waves of consequence.
"Waves were so tricky to ride out there," he said. "I really don't know this spot and didn't realized the tide changed things so quickly, but in retrospect I should have changed for another peak. I'm still stoked on the experience and I can't wait for the next one in Anglet."
Things got trickier in the following round as Fall and Camara faced much stronger competition, but both surfers put on a good fight, eventually falling short and eliminated in 65th place in their first Caraïbos Lacanau Pro.
All results from this opening day of competition are available here. With almost no swell on the cards tomorrow, the decision was made to call all surfers back on Thursday at 7:30 a.m in expected improved conditions.
Tune in from August 13-18, 2019 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here!