Santa Cruz Pro
World Surf League QS3000
Praia de fisica, Santa Cruz, Portugal
25 - 30 April, 2017
Morais, Igarashi march through to Round 3
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 27 April, 2017 - Praia Da Vigia, Santa Cruz - Portugal - The Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley continued in wind-affected conditions and witnessed the event’s top seeds come into play on Day Three of the waiting period.
Victor Mendes (BRA), 19, absolutely blew up today and racked up three of the event’s highest single scores, including a perfect 10 point ride this morning. He even complemented it with a near-perfect 9.57 to nab the highest heat total as well. The Brazilian had a busy start to his 2017 qualifying effort with already eight events surfed and is knocking on the doors of a maiden QS Top 100 berth.
“The wind today is perfect for airs on the lefts so I went for it and I’m stoked I landed a couple,” Mendes said. “All my friends here are very supportive, there’s a bunch of us staying together and it’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately I’ve already had to surf against a few of them but that’s how competition goes.”
Recently dropped by his main sponsor, Mendes had to auto-finance his way around the Qualifying Series and spent time in the shaping room in Australia to make enough money to travel to and enter events. The efforts and super busy schedule don’t seem to have slowed him down one bit as he demonstrated in Santa cruz today.
“It was fun staying three months in Australia and doing all these events, I had a couple quarterfinals so that was good,” he added. “I have only spent like 10 days at home so far this year so I look forward to going back but in the meantime I’m super stoked to make a few heats with big scores like that.”
Portugal’s surfing new ambassador, Frederico Morais (PRT), 25, put on one of the day’s leading performances to easily make his way into the fourth round of competition. Morais, who has just placed fifth at the recent Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, oozed confidence in the water and simply outsurfed his opponents.
“It was really good to finish the Australian leg with a fifth place, it definitely gives you a little bit of momentum for the next few events,” Morais stated. “I’m so happy to be home and to see all my family and friends. I’ve been given a wildcard for this event and that’s just icing on the cake.”
With the retirement of Tiago Pires (PRT) in recent years, Morais now carries the hopes of a whole nation who follows his every move on the Championship Tour, but also probably here in Santa Cruz. The talented power surfer will need to handle the pressure of being a clear event and crowd favorite in his home country.
“There are heaps of good surfers here and the competition is going to be really tough, so I’m not putting anymore pressure of myself but of course I’d love to win this event,” Morais continued. “Looking at everyone on the CT and even after only a few events, I feel like I have already learnt so much and I can take that experience into this event. The support from the Portuguese people throughout the first part of the year has been amazing and it really makes me want to give back as much as I can.”
Fellow Championship Tour surfer Kanoa Igarashi (USA), 19, the highest seeded surfer in this event, successfully launched his Santa Cruz campaign and surfed a solid heat to advance ahead of Pires. Igarashi jumped on the occasion to surf on his backside after a three-event forehand leg in Australia, and found two great little lefts for an excellent 16 points heat total.
“The wind was pretty strong into the lefts so it wasn’t easy but I’m used to surf conditions like these so I was feeling alright and got a couple good scores,” Igarashi said. “Saquarema, our next event in Brazil is a left too, so it’s good to get a little training before then.”
In his second year amongst the Elite Top 34, the Californian is still having trouble capitalizing on an amazing runner-up result at Pipeline last season. Just a few days prior to taking his act to Brazil, Igarashi will look to build momentum in Portugal.
“I feel like I’m surfing better than ever, and maybe the lack of experience on tour is what makes the difference between wins and losses for now,” he continued. “I’m not going for a World title yet so I don’t worry about the results too much. Being here in Portugal in between events is like coming home and I’m super happy to be able to surf an event and get a little rhythm going before Brazil.”
Jorgann Couzinet (FRA), 23, continued with his sensational start of the season and claimed one of the day’s highest heat totals of 17.10, to advance into Round Four. A runner-up last week in the Basque Country, Couzinet has been consistently posting massive scores lately and will be one of the toughest competitors to beat when the event resumes.
“I’m feeling amazing mentally and physically, everything is going the way it should for me right now,” Couzinet reflected. “At the end of last season I went home to Reunion Island for a month to rest first and then start training hard and I think that’s what made the difference. I’m just in a great place right now and enjoying every event and heat I make.”
Event officials and surfers will reconvene at 8 a.m Friday to reassess conditions for a potential third consecutive day of action.
UPCOMING PRO SANTA CRUZ PRES. BY OAKLEY ROUND 4 MATCHUPS:
Heat 1: Samuel Igo De Souza (BRA), Marco Giorgi (URY), Pedro Henrique (PRT), Vicente Romero (ESP)
Heat 2: Hiroto Ohhara (JPN), Timothee Bisso (GLP), Aritz Aranburu (ESP), Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
Heat 3: Victor Bernardo (BRA), Krystian Kymerson (BRA), Manuel Selman (CHL), Tiago Pires (PRT)
Heat 4: John Mel (USA), Jordy Collins (USA), Seth Moniz (HAW), Kanoa Igarashi (USA)
Heat 5: Frederico Morais (PRT), Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY), Thiago Camarao (BRA), Parker Coffin (USA)
Heat 6: Paul Cesar Distinguin (FRA), Robson Santos (BRA), Gony Zubizarreta (ESP), Victor Mendes (BRA)
Heat 7: Reo Inaba (JPN), Jake Marshall (USA), Marc Lacomare (FRA), Yago Dora (BRA)
Heat 8: Maxime Huscenot (FRA), Miguel Tudela (PER), Nomme Mignot (FRA), Adrien Toyon (FRA)