The QS3,000 Pro Santa Cruz presented by Noah Surf House has wrapped up in fun three-to-four foot surf at praia do mirante. Here's a breakdown of the event's final day.
The first Quarter between Ramzi Boukhiam and Timothee Bisso was relatively slow and largely dominated by the Moroccan. Bisso did get back in the heat with a good little forehand rotation but time ran out for the Guadeloupe surfer to find a second high scoring wave and Boukhiam advanced in the Semis.
Luel Felipe and Vasco Ribeiro went out in the second heat with obviously most eyes on the former World Junior Champ and Portuguese surfer Ribeiro. Once again, few waves ran through the lineup which limited the excitement, and unfortunately for the local crowds, Felipe got the nod with two decent scores to eliminate Ribeiro in equal fifth.
Jorgann Couzinet cut the debate short against rookie Thomas Debierre in the third Quarter, by posting a couple of big combos for a 6.73 and 7.17, leaving the 18 year-old from Guadeloupe in search of a near-perfect score, which he never did find.
Frederico Morais easily dispatched Nomme Mignot in the last Quarter in a commanding fashion to set up a power surfing showdown in the second Semifinal against Couzinet.
As the focus switched back to the rights out the back, Boukhiam continued to fire away with a ferocious attack on his backhand to post a 7.67 on his second attempt. The Moroccan managed to fit two radical turns in the tightest of sections and looked as lethal as in the morning little left runners. Felipe struggled to find the right waves and fell on a few attempts, ultimately placing equal third, his best result since the Reef Pro Penascal in October of last year.
"It's a great result for me here and I have one more opportunity next week in Caparica," he said. "Unfortunately I didn't find sections to go for airs like I wanted to do, but I had some good fun this week I'm excited to go to Caparica now, I've surfed there a few times and it's a really fun wave."
The second Semi promised an incredible battle of two powerful regular footers, one just off the Championship Tour Morais and the other knocking on the door of the CT for a couple of years Couzinet. Unfortunately conditions degraded a bit with strong cross shore winds and the tide bottoming out.
After a very balanced first half of the heat with the lead exchanging hands a couple of times, Morais took control of the heat on the 10-minute mark with a 6.60 and Couzinet fell on his first maneuver next trying to answer. The following exchange went the Frenchman's way but he was left chasing a mid 6 and placed equal third.
"I feel like I did as well as I could on my waves but Frederico obviously got better ones and surfed them well," he said. "I'm disappointed of course cause I really wanted to win here but I'm just stoked to be living this dream life. I know I can still improve in certain areas and I'm more motivated than ever, everything's going well and I'm on track so looking forward to the next one."
In the final, Boukhiam started early with a medium score for two turns but it was the local hero Morais who found the best wave early on, a long right that kept serving up sections for the regular foot to unload his signature carves for a 7.00 and the lead. The Moroccan answered with a three-turn combo on a smaller wave and was rewarded with a 5.67, enough to take back the lead but nowhere near what he needed to put pressure on Morais.
Up against the ropes, Boukhiam found a nice wave of his own but pushed his second turn too hard and came unstuck. Morais on the other hand, continued to build momentum and backed up his best number with a 5.83 to extend his lead.
In the final two minutes, Morais got the Portuguese crowds erupt on the beach as he launched into a forehand rotation, landed it clean and wrapped up the wave with a couple of turns to definitely seal the deal and take out the Pro Santa Cruz.
"I'm speechless, it's my second win on the QS and to be at home it's awesome," he said. "I didn't have a good start in Australia and it feels so good to come back here and win in front of all these people supporting me. This is why we do this."
Boukhiam did try everything until the final seconds of the Final, but requiring a very high score, the pressure got to him and the Moroccan fell on his next few attempts. Boukhiam went one better on his Semifinal equal third result of 2018 and is poised to take out the Portuguese event in years to come.
"I've been coming to Portugal since I'm a kid and I absolutely love it," he said. "I've known Frederico and Vasco for a long time and I'm happy for Kikas to win in front of his people. Having two QS3,000 back-to-back is super cool, I've never surfed down in Caparica but I'm super excited to get down there now."
With the completion of the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Noah Surf House, the third event on the 2019 European Qualifying Series, the regional rankings have evolved, here's the new current Top 5.
European QS Top 5
1 - Timothee Bisso
2 - Tristan Guilbaud
3 - Paul Cesar Distinguin
4 - Jorgann Couzinet
5 - Thomas Debierre
Cover shot by WSL/Mestre