With very little swell on offer at the start of the waiting period, event officials decided to move to the wave-magnet that is Anza, situated 30mn South of Anchor Point. Fun, punchy lefts and rights offered plenty of scoring opportunities all day to get this historic first Pro Taghazout Bay underway.
Happy Birthday Rio!
Indonesian phenom Rio Waida celebrated his 20th birthday today with the best possible gift, the day's best performance and a heat win into Round 2. The Uluwatu local started his year in China with a massive equal 3rd and picked up right where he left off.
"That result in China was big for me and I'm really happy," he said. "I hope I can keep it going, this is the second QS5,000 and I want to get more points to keep my spot in the Top 100 and make the Challenger Series. They're super hard, I've always lost in the early rounds so far but I'm working hard to improve and my ultimate goal is to qualify of course."
The light regular foot lit up the rights of Anza taking maximum risk with a big forehand rotation to post an excellent 8.40. He backed it up and showed the variety of his talent with a two-turn combo for a solid 7.50 and the win into Round 2.
"I'm stoked to start this event with two good scores," he continued. "It was a little bit hard in the free surf this morning but in the heat there were actually plenty of waves so I just kept busy and tried to improve my scores all the time."
Moroccan Crew Off to a Shaky Start
It was a tough day for the local contingent in Round 1 as the host country lost 5 representatives on opening day. Junior talent Selyann Zouhir however fought hard in a wave-starved heat to take two average waves which were enough to advance in first.
"It was a little bit complicated but I'm happy to make it through with a win to start my event," he said. "I came second in the U-14 European Championship on this wave a while ago so it holds a very special place in my heart and I really love this spot. The forecast looks super fun for Anchor Point in a few days so I'm hoping I can continue to progress and get to surf those waves I've been training on since I started surfing."
One of the strongest emerging talents from Morocco, Zouhir still has a final year on the European junior tour before he graduates to the Qualifying Series full time and follows in Ramzi Boukhiam's footsteps. With a couple of big results last season, the young goofy foot could be a serious contender for the regional junior title, 8 years after Boukhiam became the first Moroccan to claim the coveted title in 2012.
Other Standout Performers on Day 1
"My heat was really fun," Matson said. "I started off really quick and then shuffled back to first priority. A really good wave came and I was stoked to get a good score and move on to the next round. I'm here to have fun and surf my best, I'd love to get a good result but I'm not too worried about points."
While the afternoon heats were scoring slightly lower, a lone Australian managed to prove the rule wrong with the second-highest total of the day, a solid 13.86 effort for Dylan Moffat.
"It's always good to get the first heat jitters out of the way," he admitted. "Morocco from Australia is quite far so just to get that first heat out of the way feels good. Waves were super fun, it definitely feels like a version of Trestles, fun rippable lefts and rights and plenty of options. I've been to Casablanca for the previous QS but it's my first time visiting Taghazout and I'm really excited to surf some good waves. It's beautiful around here, people are really nice and the food is just great!"
Another surfer with a strong start in China, the regular foot from Narrabeen continued to prove his game is on point in 2020 as he battles to keep his QS Top 10 spot early in the season.
Competition was called Off after Heat 16 and event officials will reconvene tomorrow Sunday, January 26th at 11 a.m to re-assess conditions.
Tune in from January 25 - February 1, 2020 and check out all the photos, videos and updates from the Pro Taghazout Bay.