The Ericeira World Junior Championships launched Monday in stormy, 3-to-4 foot surf at the backup venue of Praia dos Pescadores in Ericeira, completing the opening round of the women's event as well as four heats of the men's.
Hawaii's Brisa Hennessy (HAW), dominated her opening bout and clinched the event's single highest score so far, an impressive 9-point ride for a collection of powerful backhand hacks.
"I think it is really cool that the World Juniors has a CT kind of format and going straight into Round 3 is super cool and I'm really excited to be part of it," Hennessy said. "It is such an awesome contest."
The talented natural footer selected her waves wisely and kept building momentum throughout the heat to reach an excellent 16.17 heat total for her spot in the third round of competition.
"I couldn't hear a lot and I was waving my arms but my coach always tells me to just keep on building my house and make it a pyramid and get to the top but with bigger scores."
Local favorite Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), got her campaign off to a solid start in the tricky conditions. Showing no sign of nerves despite competing in her home country, the young Portuguese, who placed fifth last year -- narrowly defeated by eventual World Junior Champion Mahina Maeda -- finished her heat with a bang and her two top-scoring rides, including an excellent 8.17.
"It increases your confidence if you get through your first heat and go to the third round," Bonvalot explained. "Waves are a bit tricky but it's like this all this week so we need to surf and be confident with the waves and surf the maximum. So that's what I am trying to do and be positive."
Reigning World Junior Champion Mahina Maeda (HAW) launched her own assault toward a second consecutive title and surfed a smart heat to advance into Round 3 ahead of her competition. Maeda will look to confirm her excellent form when the event resumes.
"I was super nervous and you know it is a lot harder to come back as a reigning world champ than chasing for the world title, so I am just trying to keep an open mind," Maeda said. "I love Portugal. It's my third time here and definitely feeling a lot more comfortable. I have Philippe Malvaux, who helped me claim my world title last year, so he is definitely a great mentor for me."
In the men's division, Joshua Moniz (HAW) opened his account with a few average scores before nailing an 8.33 at the midway stage of the bout. From there he controlled the situation not allowing France's Charly Quivront and Gatien Delahaye to get into the heat.
"It felt pretty good. I wasn't too sure if I was going to surf today or not and sitting around all day but I feel good," Moniz said. "The waves are pretty tricky but there are some good ones."
After his Martinique win last year on the QS but an up and down season overall in 2015, the young Hawaiian looked revitalized and focused to put on a solid competitive year.
"I'd be stoked to start with a big result here. Last year was pretty crazy for me by doing good then really bad then good so hopefully it could be a little better this year."
Traveling alongside family and friends in Portugal, a classic support crew helped Moniz stay on point and perform through a tricky opening day of competition.
"I have a huge support crew here," he continued. "I'm here with my brother and I brought my filmer over. We are all cruising and having fun. We're all staying in the same spot and we're all together during the contest all day so it's sick."
Timothee Bisso (GLP) used his trademark solid surfing and heat strategy to advance directly into Round 3. The young Guadalupe surfer looked focused and aiming for a big result against the rest of the world's best juniors.
"I'm feeling great. I actually didn't know I was leading and with the wind it is very tough out there so I am super stoked," Bisso admitted. "I knew I had a good wave as a 6 so I thought okay. Then a small back up of a 5 or a 4 so I knew kind of where I was. I'm here with Yann Martin my coach and there is my team manager, Nelson (Cloarec) and Juliette (Brice) and we are all together. We are having fun here."
The next call will be Tuesday at 7:45 a.m. local time for a potential re-start of either the men's or women's competition.
MagicSeaweed, official forecasters for the event, are calling for the following:
Strong winds from the west or north west will be the main feature of the first few days along with swell in the 1015ft range at a mid period and with a lot of wind sea in the mix. It's a challenge to see a window for competition in this period at the main venue.
The Ericeira World Junior Championships will stream live on worldsurfleague.com and the WSL app daily local time.
The Ericeira World Junior Championships are supported by Ericeira, Billabong, Portuguese Waves, Moche and Hertz, among others.