The second annual Prozis Pro Junior Espinho, a men and women's JQS 1,000 event, launched in clean three-to-four foot surf at the beautiful Praia de Baia. A sunny summer day greeted competitors, and the overnight arrival of a new swell delivered fun conditions to complete the opening rounds of both the men and women's competition.
Henrique Pyrrait (PRT) 17, was the first surfer to crack the excellent range with an 8.33 for two powerful backside gauges. The Ericeira local took maximum risks on his last maneuver to perform a radical snap right under the falling curtain of a set wave.
"That's definitely the right way to start an event," Pyrrait commented. "I had a little trouble to find the right waves but when I finally got one I was able to do two good turns and get a solid score. I just tried to back it up then."
Later in the round, France's Charly Termeau (FRA) 18, played the consistency card to score two good waves and briefly claim the highest heat total of Round 1 with a 14.20 two-wave total. A solid lead over his opponents, Termeau started to try aerial maneuvers and almost increased his score with a last-second effort, but eventually the judges panel deemed the maneuver incomplete.
"I haven't surfed for about a year, not just in competition but in general," Termeau said. "It feels great to get back into it and especially with a win right away. I've done a lot of physio these past few months so I feel strong but I needed to find my feet on a board again. I think the power I developed is a good thing in these conditions and I'm sure it helped to score well in that one."
It wasn't however until current rankings leader Miguel Blanco (PRT) 19, hit the lineup in Heat 14, that a real frontrunner emerged in Round 1.
"I missed the deadline to enter the event on time and had to surf in Round 1 but honestly it's not such a bad thing," Blanco admitted. "It's good to have already one heat under the belt when you come up against stronger surfers in the second round."
Blanco belted two of the highest scores of the event so far, racking up an excellent 16.93 heat total. Blanco showed clear dominance over his opponents for the entire 25-minute matchup, linking multiple turns on one of the longest waves of the day and committing on a large close-out set.
"There's always a little pressure for sure but I don't really think about it so much," Blanco continued. "I'm here chilling with my girlfriend and my friends, it's just like any other comp. Boards are feeling good, surfing's amazing and the waves are pumping!"
In the women's opening round of 40, it was Cascais' Carol Henrique (PRT) 20, that came out with the highest heat total. Despite barely arriving on time after competing in the Los Cabos Open of Surf, Henrique looked poised in her heat and built momentum to obtain her ticket for the second round.
"I'm just back from Mexico and wasn't sure I could make it here on time," Henrique said. "I'm happy to make that first heat and to be here with my dad. I love it here, it's good to be competing at home in Portugal and I'm looking forward to the next round."
Event officials have decided to convene surfers at 7:30 a.m. Friday for a potential early start to Day 2 of competition in Espinho.