Conditions were best early on as surfers enjoyed a relatively low tide and clean waves with good wall to work with. Sure enough the performance of the day came in the very first heat with rising talent Marco Mignot taking apart the lefts with power and style to build a healthy 16.50 total and advance alongside compatriot Enzo Cavallini.
"I went out there calm and focused on finding that one good wave and when it came I capitalized so I'm really happy with my performance," Mignot said. "I love being in the nature and this is one those places that's so pretty and peaceful I just love being here."
15 year-old Ryan Kainalo took a page out of Mignot's book a couple of heats later and found an excellent ride of his own with two critical turns in the lip to eventually win a difficult heat against former CT surfer Joan Duru, and form surfers Siam Nikritin and Jacome Correia.
"The waves are pretty challenging and I'm so happy I made it," Kainalo said. "The heat started perfectly for me, I got my best score an 8 right at the beginning and it helped a lot. I'm just out here building some experience and confidence and I hope I can make a few more heats."
Hopkins, who has been on a tear on the Challenger Series recently with three good results, kept her momentum wave going with an impressive performance in her Azores debut. The powerful regular foot broke her board going all out on a solid set wave midway through the heat, but managed to change her equipment, re-join the lineup and a second big score to take an easy win into the round of 16.
"I always go for the lip and this one looked really fun but unfortunately my board couldn't handle it," she said. "So I had a little bit of a workout to come in and change but thankfully I got the priority as soon as I reached the back again and a good wave came."
The rest of the field struggled to find high-scoring rides throughout the afternoon, notably some of the most experienced competitors on the QS , including former Championship Tour competitor Pauline Ado, who advanced in uncomfortable second place positions.
The vibe got a little sleepy towards the end of the day with only average scores on the board in most heats, until Mafalda Lopes got everyone back on their toes and fired up with a frontside rotation to score the first 10 point ride of the event.
It wasn't a monstrous aerial but under pressure the Portuguese managed to launch and land a clean rotation on a closeout section and these are still extremely rare in women's competitions, which is why the judges rewarded her progression with the highest score available.
"It's incredible to get my first 10 and in such a special place, Azores is like a second home to me," Lopes said. "I wasn't really looking for it but that section came and I wasn't going to waste a good opportunity to go for it!"
Surfers will be back at 7:45 a.m for the men's call tomorrow and 10 a.m for the women's event.