- WSL / Pedro Mestre
Highlights: Early Rounds Done & Dusted in Santa Cruz
The Round of 96 is completed in tricky surf, paving the way for a top seed start on Friday.

The QS 3000 Estrella Galicia Santa Cruz Pro pres. by Noah Surf House, the last Stop on the 2021-22 European QS, continued today in wind-affected three foot surf to complete the Round of 96.

The swell dropped down quite a bit from yesterday but still provided plenty of action for the third round of competition. The forecast for the remaining two days of the event's waiting period shows another pulse of swell and more favorable winds which should set the scene for an exciting finish of the men's 2021/22 European Qualifying Series season.

Leon Glatzer and Miguel Blanco took out the first two heats with convincing surfing even if not fully reaching the excellent range, which would become a regular feat in today's conditions.

Kai Odriozola got the best wave of the morning for a similar move that won yesterday's Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day, but on a smaller wave. The Basque surfer squeezed a backhand radical turn right in the lip with a freefall to the flats and managed to escape the wave's explosion for a 6.83 to build a solid 12.50 heat total.

"It's actually really fun out there," he said. "These are waves like the ones I surf every day at home so I'm really used to them, I managed to hit that one good turn on a closeout set and was happy to get a good score."

Long time QS competitor Tomas Fernandes upped the ante around lunchtime with a big heat win and 14 points on the board for his backhand attack of the soft lefts of Santa Cruz. The Portuguese surfer, a semifinalist at the World Junior Championships when it was held on his home spot of Ericeira, has taken a step back from full time competition but relished the opportunity to give it another crack on home turf.

"I'm feeling great," he said. "I actually got decent scores for this type of conditions so I'm really happy with that and with my surfing. I've actually been taking it easy and enjoying time with friends, I didn't even get a warm up surf before my heat."

Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day 2 - Santa Cruz
Dylan Groen claims the Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day on the second day in Santa Cruz.

It was Germany's Dylan Groen who claimed the day's best single score and the Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day for a combination of three backhand hits on a wave that opened more than what everybody else was able to find.

"I felt like it was way trickier than yesterday and less waves coming through so you have to be more selective," Groen explained. "But I got that good one and it set me up nicely for the heat. The forecast looks really good for the next few days so I'm excited for the next round."

As conditions continued to deteriorate, competition was called off early this afternoon after the completion of the Round of 96.

Event officials will reconvene for the next call at 7:30 a.m WEST on Friday, April 15, 2022 in Santa Cruz.

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