The Caparica Surf Fest powered by Oakley resumed in stormy conditions yesterday with unruly waves in the four-to-six foot range and rain showers. Competition did get under way with eight heats of both the men’s QS3,000 and men’s Junior divisions completed around the high-tide mark which proved slightly more manageable. And on despite that, Maui's young ripper Noah Hill lofted into a perfect 10 in the Junior comp.
“For sure it’s not ideal but this being such a huge event we had to do something today and tomorrow,” Rob Gunning, WSL Europe tour manager stated. “Conditions weren’t actually that bad, a lot of surfers managed to find good to excellent scores out there, which is a testament to their talent as well. We have a positive forecast for the end of the week and to be able to finish in great conditions, a few rounds have to go out in these less dreamy waves unfortunately.”
The Caparica neighbor from just over the other side of the river, Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) couldn’t seem less affected by the conditions on hand as he went out in the first heat of the day and scored the round’s best result with two decent scores. Quarterfinalist last week in Santa Cruz, the former World Junior Champion kept the ball rolling in his first encounter in familiar territory in Caparica.
“There actually are some waves it’s not as bad as it looks,” Ribeiro said. “It’s just that you can’t hear your scores or anything so it’s pretty hard to surf a heat. I found a little left and a right to back it up and I’m happy to get that one out of the way. I made the Quarters last week so I’m hoping to go even further in this one, it’s great to have back-to-back events at home for a change.”
While not typically the line up surfers would be hunting barrels in, a few did find gems in the tricky surf. Somehow, Franklin Serpa (BRA) managed to paddle for a big double-up that looked nothing like a decent wave at first, but when the lip jacked up Serpa was in the perfect spot to pull in and get out clean for a good 6 point ride in the context of his heat and advance in pole position.
The Brazilian’s heroics got him the win ahead of yesterday’s highlight Mitch Crews (AUS) and eliminated Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) in the process.
“I couldn’t believe it, I just paddled into that wave and there it was, a barrel,” Serpa said. “So I just pulled in and made it, I was so happy. There’s a lot of water moving out there, and a strong rip but the wave still has some power so it was pretty fun.”
The Caparica Surf Fest Junior Pro powered by Oakley continued to see surfers post massive scores despite the extremely difficult conditions on offer today.
Fernando Junior (BRA) has been dominating the first three rounds of the junior event in Caparica. He opened with a decent 14.10 (which included an 8.00 point ride) in Round 1, then switched gears and posted a 17.50 in Round 2 (courtesy of 8.33 and 9.17) and a 17.00 total today with another 9.17 and a lower backup of 7.83. The Brazilian surfer absolutely destroyed the sections he found on his backhand and was simply on another level from his opponents.
“I’m stoked to be here for my first time in Portugal,” Junior said. “I had really fun heats so far and I’m loving this right to surf on my backhand. I feel comfortable going both ways but I know my backhand is better to score big. I had the opportunity to come over to Europe for the two QS3,000 events, unfortunately I didn’t do too well in these but I have this junior event to redeem myself.”
The leaders in the European junior title race; Justin Becret (FRA), Kauli Vaast (FRA) and Selyann Zouhir (MAR) all made their way into Round 5, the last remaining round of four-man heats before the event’s finals.
As event crews were pulling equipment out of the way and getting the site ready for another stormy night, resonated in the distance the words ’10 point ride’. It was coming from the south podium where the junior event was wrapping up.
Maui’s Noah Hill put on a clinic above the lip in the last heat of the day, posting a perfect 10 and a 9.67 to eliminate current number 2 in the European junior rankings and local surfer Afonso Antunes (PRT).
“The wind really turned on and it was perfect for airs,” Hill said. “I got lucky with a few sections and got opportunities to show my surfing for once. I’m not as comfortable on my backhand but I had a tough heat so I had to go big and to worked out. I need some points on the QS, so I’m taking all the experience I can get cause I want to qualify for the CT in the next few years. I’ve been to the Azores before but never on mainland Portugal and I’m loving it so far.”
Hill is still in contention in the men’s QS3,000 draw and will come up in Heat 13 when the event resumes against perennial threats Bino Lopes (BRA), Luel Felipe (BRA) and up-and-comer Vitor Mendes (BRA).
Competitors will be back in today for a potential re-start of the Caparica Surf Fest powered by Oakley. Keep an eye on the call HERE.