- WSL / Laurent Masurel
Highlights: Crunch Time in Azores
Pressure builds as we approach the final rounds of the Men's QS5,000 and Women's QS3,000 Azores Airlines Pro.

The Men's QS5,000 and Women's QS3,000 Azores Airlines Pro continued to witness excellent performances from the very best of European surfing talents with two more rounds of competition wrapped in fun three-to-five foot surf.

Pressure continues to build as we slowly approach the final rounds of competition in Azores with 5,000 and 3,000 ranking points for the men and women winners respectively when the event concludes.

French Crew Blows Up in Fun Conditions

Charly Martin (FRA) Charly Martin - WSL / Laurent Masurel

This morning conditions were ideal with a glassy lineup groomed by the offshore and super fun three-to-five foot, punchy lefts and rights. Two Frenchmen really showed the full potential for high scores with their remarquable backhand attack of the lefts of praia de Santa Barbara.

Reunion Island's Maxime Huscenot posted an impressive 16.27 for his flawless surfing and progressive approach with a lot of fin-free turns in and above the lip.

"I made a few mistakes in that heat, I wanted to go to the air so much with that wind and I think I over frothed a little bit," he admitted. "I managed to settle down and get that 8 which put me in a comfortable condition. Wave selection is tricky here, some are very deceiving and other that don't look like much offer great potential so you have to be on point with what you choose to go on."

Guadeloupe's Charly Martin stuck to his strong game of powerful snaps in the critical sections to post an excellent wave of his own and a total over 15 points.

"It was a hard heat against the kids from home so I'm stoked to make it," he said. "When I started competing I was the only one from Guadeloupe and I'm stoked to see so many other guys from the same surf club, all training together and they're doing well, I'm really happy to see this."

Justin Becret (FRA) Justin Becret - WSL / Laurent Masurel

As the tide started to fill in, another two French surfers started taking apart a little wedging left in the rip and posting big scores. Jorgann Couzinet was the first to find the winning recipe with vertical hits on the little left peeler. Tristan Guilbaud was fortunate to find a bigger one and locked in two massive turns for an excellent 8.17. Both surfers advanced in first position in their respective heats and will be forces to be reckoned with when the event resumes.

Veselko and Bonvalot Dominate Women's RD16

Teresa Bonvalot (PRT) Teresa Bonvalot - WSL / Laurent Masurel

In the women's Round of 16, it was crunch time in the last four-surfer battles to decide the event's quarterfinalists. Portuguese junior Francisca Veselko took out the first heat with a demonstration of both surfing and strategy. The powerful regular foot built house on the right while everyone was obsessing over the lefts and took control early of the proceedings.

She then found a set on the opposite side of the bank and nailed one major turn in the lip for her highest score of the heat to seal the deal on her Quarterfinal berth.

"I'm really stoked to make it to the Quarters," she said. "I think the judges were quite clear on what they want to see, major turns on the big sections so that's what I tried to do and I'm happy it worked out."

In the second heat, Rachel Presti claimed the highest single number with an 8.33 for two big backhand snaps, but apart from that wave, it was almost entirely the Teresa Bonvalot show in Portuguese waters. The experienced competitor took a little time to find her rhythm but when she did there was no looking back as she kept destroying the lefts with great flow.

Rachel Presti (DEU) Rachel Presti - WSL / Laurent Masurel

"It was a great call to hold for a couple hours cause the waves were firing right now," she explained. "This kind of left is so rippable and so fun, being a goofy I just love these conditions."

The third heat was dominated by the Basque Country's Janire Gonzalez Etxabarri and her impeccable surfing both on the lefts and rights of the rip bowl.

In the last heat, yesterday's hero Mafalda Lopes managed to squeeze in second behind Pauline Ado in a low-scoring affair to qualify a their Portuguese surfer into the Quarters.

The next call will be at 7:45 a.m again for the men's Round of 16 and the Quarterfinalists in the women's event will be on deck at 10 a.m.

The Azores Islands Pro will unfold from November 1-6, 2021 and will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com.

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