The QS 3000 Estrella Galicia Santa Cruz Pro pres. by Noah Surf House, the last Stop on the 2021-22 men's European QS, launched today in solid surf to complete the first two rounds of competition as well as two heats of the third.
Surfers took on the powerful Portuguese surf on the exposed beaches of Santa Cruz, and while the larger sets broke wide outside, plenty of action went down on the reform, a treacherous six-foot plus almost shorebreak that invited big turns and even bigger wipeouts.
The early rounds witnessed a mix of experienced competitors and fresh new blood posting good scores on single maneuvers or trying to fit in multiple turns on fast-closing waves.
Former Championship Tour surfer Marlon Lipke was first to crack the 7 point range with a trademark Lipke carve before finishing it clean on the incoming closeout section, to steal the heat with minutes on the clock.
"It actually felt quite uncomfortable for me out there," he admitted. "I was eyeing the lefts further down but they never came to me and my board felt a bit small for the rights, but luckily in the last few minutes I got the two waves to make the heat."
A couple of heats later, it was a pair of juniors that put on a show, namely Kepa Housset-Ezponda, 18 and Kai Odriozola, 16, from the Basque Country. Odriozola took out the heat with two 6+ scores but it was Housset's attack on a meaty left where he attacked the lip and free fell to the bottom that was rewarded with the highest single score, a 7.50 for his effort.
London Almida matched Housset's number of 7.50 on a right this time, finding the perfect timing to attack the lip and rode it out clean. Unfortunately his board was creased due to the intensity of the turn and landing. Almida rode his next wave in to switch equipment, but by the time he reached the lineup he only had a couple of minutes left and wasn't able to find a good enough backup score to advance.
João Mendonça fortunately didn't suffer the same fate, the Portuguese surfer posted his own 7.50 on his very first wave and backed it up quickly with a low score which was eventually enough to take the win into the Round of 96.
"Conditions were really hard with that strong onshore wind," he said. "Once you get a good score, there is a little added pressure to back it up and I chose to get a small score very quickly and then try to improve on it."
The highest combined heat total of the day belongs to Sweden's Cristian Portelli with 13.17 points (out of a possible 20).
Event officials will reconvene for the next call at 8:30 a.m WEST on Thursday, April 14, 2022 in Santa Cruz.