- WSL / Pedro Mestre
Highlights: Massive Performances at Caparica Surf Fest
A massive day of action sets up a potential weekend finish at the Estrella Galicia Caparica SurfFest.

The Men's QS 3000 and women's QS 1000 Estrella Galicia Caparica Surf Fest 2022, Stop No. 4 of 5 on the 2021-22 World Surf League (WSL) European Qualifying Series (QS), continued for a fourth consecutive day of action.

Waves in the three-to-four foot range with lighter onshore winds provided plenty of scoring opportunities for the event's top seeds in both the men and women's rounds. A long day of 28 heats proved essential to complete the men's Round of 64 and women's Rounds of 32 and 16 to potentially set up Finals Day for Saturday.

Conditions clearly improved in the afternoon as the women's event resumed and the best surfers in Europe put on an incredible show with massive scores dropping in every heat.

Newly Crowned European QS Title Winner Bonvalot Celebrates Return to Caparica

Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), Caparica 2022 Teresa Bonvalot (PRT) - WSL / Pedro Mestre

Teresa Bonvalot won her first-ever Qualifying Series event here in Caparica last year and has since been on an absolute tear, winning two more events in the Azores and just recently in Israel. Those two results resulted in her first European QS Title and today she confirmed she deserved her spot at the top of the leaderboard.

"I'm super happy to get a good start and finally we have a bit more swell to work with," Bonvalot said. "Waves are actually quite fun despite the wind. My boards work well and I've worked a lot on everything I can control to make my life easier in the lineup."

In her Round of 32 heat, her third and fourth best waves would have been enough to secure the win, and she later confirmed her form with another heat win into the Quarters. That makes a streak of 12 consecutive heat wins across three events and who knows where she'll stop.

"Today was a good day," she added. "Conditions were so rippable and hopefully conditions stay like this tomorrow and we can have really fun finals."

Women Put on a Show, Quarter Finalists Decided

Ariane Ochoa (EUK), Caparica 2022 Ariane Ochoa (EUK) - WSL / Pedro Mestre

An epic battle between Caparica local Mafalda Lopes and long time QS campaigner Ariane Ochoa lit up the crowds this afternoon in the Round of 32. The pair attacked the gnarliest sections with power and commitment and posted incredible scores for single maneuvers, Lopes with an 8.60 and Ochoa pushing the envelope with a 9.27, the highest in the women's event so far.

"I love to come to Portugal, I really feel at home here," Ochoa said. "And finally we have good waves for a contest so I'm stoked. Mafalda was ripping and even though I felt good and was surfing well I knew I had to push it harder to get the win then."

That unfortunately came at the expense of 15 year-old local wildcard Maria Salgado who had been impressive in her very first WSL contest appearance. Lopes and Ochoa also confirmed in the following round as both advanced into the Quarters where they'll match up with Yolanda Hopkins and Bonvalot respectively.

Maria Salgado (PRT), Caparica 2022 Maria Salgado (PRT) - WSL / Pedro Mestre

Challenger Series wildcard recipient Vahine Fierro closed out the Round of 32 with an excellent number of her own, an excellent 8.60 as she advanced in second behind Francisca Veselko. The Polynesian found herself nearly eliminated in the following round but pulled last-minute heroics as she smashed a big section with a single turn to steal the win into the Quarters.

"The last two heats I got the score in the last moments so I've put a lot of pressure on myself," Fierro admitted. "But I'm happy I made it through of course, and in good waves too. I've worked a lot in the last few months and I'm excited to build a little momentum before the Challenger Series start next month."

Coming off a career-best equal third place result on the Qualifying Series in Israel, Veselko put together another big performance in her two heats today to claim her spot into the Quarters and looks like a shoo-in for the Challenger Series, currently second behind Bonvalot in the regional rankings.

Becret Nails Near-Perfect, Move of the Event So Far

Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day 4
Justin Becret grabs the Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day 4 with a near-perfect move.

Against the ropes in his Round of 64 heat, France's Justin Becret found the resources to throw a hail mary rotation on a meaty right and dropped a near-perfect 9.50 (ou ot 10) to turn his heat around, grab the lead and run away with the win.

"I started ok but then everybody was getting scores and I got a bit anxious," Becret said. "I wasn't freaking out but I thought it would be a good time to put something better on the board. Then that wave came and I landed the rotation so I was happy with that one."

Currently on the bubble, ranked 9th on the European QS, for a potential seat at the Challenger Series table later this year, a lot rides on Becret's performance in Caparica and Santa Cruz next week.

Top Seeds Dominate, Men's Field Down to Last 32

Joaquim Chaves (PRT), Caparica, 2022 Joaquim Chaves (PRT) - WSL / Pedro Mestre

A Guadeloupe duo took out the opening heat of the men's Round of 96 in great fashion, namely Charly Martin and Timothee Bisso, fighting for the lead on a few different occasions. Martin and Bisso both posted a solid 7+ score each, courtesy of their backhand attack and eventually Martin took the win, Bisso advancing in second.

"I've had a nice morning warm-up and a good night's sleep and I felt really good out there this morning," Martin said. "I'm only just starting to surf again now after my knee injury so I haven't free-surfed much, just doing my heats and I tried to stay focused and make the right choices."

Entering the event late, Martin had to surf since the opening round and the powerful regular foot is logging a lot of time in the Caparica waters. Whether the extra three early rounds will pay off in experience or build up in exhaustion remains to be seen but the former runner-up Martin is looking like a strong contender to go all the way this week.

Local favorite Vasco Ribeiro launched his campaign on home turf today and although the final result shows a dominant performance, the former World Junior Champion looked a little out of sorts for a long time before he turned things up in the final five minutes of his heat. Ribeiro attacked two lefts just a couple of minutes apart and managed to build a healthy total of 13.40 for the win.

"I was staying at home before today and only moved here now into a hotel for the rest of the event," Ribeiro explained. "I want to be here and focused, surf the waves all the time and stay in it. Sometimes when you go home you kind of turn it off."

A regular standout on the Junior series, 18 year-old Joaquim Chaves proved today he's ready to mix it up with the best on the QS, securing the first advancing position ahead of former Championship Tour surfer Joan Duru and experienced competitors Miguel Blanco and Gony Zubizarreta. Chaves destroyed a right with two powerful and progressive turns for an excellent 8.33, one of the biggest single-wave scores of the event so far.

"It was a pretty slow heat at the beginning and I wasn't getting any rhythm but I finally managed to get a set wave and surfed it well," Chaves said. "I was actually born here and surfed here a lot when I started so even though I've moved to Ericeira now I do know these beaches well and I'm happy to perform here."

Upsetting, early exits from top seeds were limited today but include Charly Quivront, Jorgann Couzinet and last but not least the defending event winner Ruben Vitoria).

Event officials have announced the next call for 7 a.m WEST on Saturday, April 9, 2022 in Caparica, which could potentially be Finals Day.

World Surf League
Download it for free on the App store. Download it for free on Google Play.