- WSL / Pedro Mestre
Highlights: Epic Surfing on Day 3 in Santa Cruz
Competition runs through the all-important top seeded Rd64 and Rd32 to set up the finals in Santa Cruz.

The QS 3000 Estrella Galicia Santa Cruz Pro pres. by Noah Surf House, the last Stop on the 2021-22 WSL men's European QS, continued in building four-to-six foot surf to complete the top seeded Round of 64 as well as the Round of 32.

The race to qualify for the Challenger Series (CS) really comes down to the wire in Europe with roughly 15 surfers still within striking distance of a Top 10 push with a big result in Portugal. The main upset of this third day of action was the early elimination of Maxime Huscenot, the 2021/22 men's European QS winner. For the Portuguese fans though, it was Vasco Ribeiro's exit in the Round of 32, that effectively ended his qualifying run and meant no Portuguese surfers would advance into Finals Day.

Tahitians Mihimana Braye and Kauli Vaast advanced into the Round of 16 with a power display on the lefts, both attacking the waves on their forehand. The two Polynesians need a massive result in Santa Cruz if they want a shot at qualifying for the CS. Braye had previously posted one of the biggest scores of the day, an excellent 8.33 for a snap and above the lip rotation when the swell was a bit smaller this morning.

"Waves were still small this morning but I have a good board for those and I was feeling pretty confident," Braye said.

Jorgann Couzinet (FRA), Santa Cruz 2022 Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) - WSL / Pedro Mestre

Runner-up last week in Caparica, Lucas Silveira picked up right where he left off with a brilliant display of power surfing both in the small waves this morning and the building sets of the afternoon. The Brazilian scored an excellent 8.50 in his first heat of the day and an 8.17 in the second.

"Waves changed completely during the day and I definitely prefer it bigger with way more opportunities," Silveira stated. "I was lucky with that 8, the wave stayed open where most were closing out real fast. I'm soon to be married and with a baby on the way, so now every time I'm away from home I have to make the time count, so I hope they're proud of me."

Although not technically qualifying through his performance on the European Qualifying Series, Silveira has been confirmed as a CT replacement wildcard for the first two events of the Challenger Series at Snapper Rocks and Manly where his explosive brand of surfing could do some damage.

In an overwhelmingly French-dominated round, Charly Quivront, Sam Piter, Thomas Debierre, Mathis Crozon, Justin Becret, Jorgann Couzinet, Thomas Ledee, Gaspard Larsonneur, Nicolas Paulet and Gatien Delahaye all advanced into the Round of 16, most of whom are still fighting for a spot in the CS.

Crozon put together the afternoon's best heat and still has an outside chance at qualifying for the Challenger Series, but he will need to go all the way and claim the win in Santa Cruz, and even then he's not guaranteed a Top 10 finish at this point.

16 year-old Kai Odriozola from the Spanish Basque Country put on another stellar performance to claim a fourth consecutive heat win in Santa Cruz. One of the favorites on the junior tour this coming season, Odriozola is starting to make a mark on the Qs as well where he'll soon be a regular threat if his surfing continues to impress like this week.

"I'm super happy to get some good waves and good scores," Odriozola said. "I've been studying a lot and not surfing much the last week but I came with a lot of fire and I really want to do well."

Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day 3 - Santa Cruz
Thomas Ledee nails a near-perfect 9.33 for this unreal attack of a double-overhead closeout, grabbing the Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day 3 and a spot into the Round of 16.

Thomas Ledee in the day's second to last heat threw caution to the wind and attacked a double-overhead closeout right in the lip to post an incredible 9.33 (out of 10) and claim the Estrella Galicia Wave of the Day. Much like his compatriot Crozon, the surfer from the French Caribbean island of St Barthelemy is mathematically still in the hunt for a spot in the European Top 10 when this event wraps.

"It was super hard to just catch a wave out there, and when I saw that big wall I just went for it," Ledee said. "I'm excited about tomorrow, I'll just go with the flow and see where that takes me."

Event officials will reconvene for the final call at 8:30 a.m WEST on Saturday, April 16, 2022 in Santa Cruz.

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