In the men's final Gonzalez, 35, got off to an early start, catching a firing set wave in the opening minutes of the exchange. Gonzalez dismantled the long right and dug his rail deep on a beautiful carve for an impressive 8.73. The Canary Island native quickly backed it up with an average score to apply pressure on his opponent.
Miguel Blanco (PRT), 20, answered on a softer wave that unfortunately didn't offer him the same hollow sections, only able to put a mid-range 5 on the board.
A long lull in the action allowed both surfers to regroup before a two-wave set came, Gonzalez opting to go left while Blanco went right on the following wave. Blanco exploded on the perfect blank canvas and belted an 8.57 but the young Portuguese received an interference for a previous effort that blew his chances instantly. Gonzalez further improved on his scoreboard with that last effort and ultimately claimed the 2016 Pro Zarautz event crown.
"To win here is very special for me, it's one of my favorite comps worldwide for sure," an emotional Gonzalez stated. "The level was super high this week and it's great to get a win at the beginning of the season, I hope I can maintain that good rhythm. I travel all-year with Hodei and Gony and have a lot of friends here, so this is like home for me and it makes the victory even sweeter."
Blanco, a longtime Junior threat now graduated to the Qualifying Series, belts his first big result on the series and will carry momentum and confidence into his next confrontations on the big leagues. The young Portuguese surfer claimed the day's biggest upset as well, in dispatching of local hero Aritz Aranburu (ESP), in their semifinal bout.
"My QS campaign last year was terrible so to start this one with a runner-up is really good for me," he said. "I feel blessed, things have been going my way this year, not only in contests but I've also finally found a main sponsor and that makes a big difference, I'm just happy. I tried to keep Jonathan off the best waves and sell him on one but unfortunately I got a little white water on his wave and got the interference, it's alright these things happen."
Former Championship Tour competitors Justine Dupont (FRA), 24, and Pauline Ado, 25, put on a great fight in the final, going blow for blow on the clean five-to-six foot sets on offer. Opting to go both left and right, the competitors who had previously dispatched of the last two Basque surfers in the semis, gave a great display of performance surfing.
Despite a quicker start from Dupont, it was Pauline Ado who capitalized on the conditions to rip apart the beautiful Zarautz rights. With two solid scores on the board, Ado managed to keep her opponent at a distance and claimed the event title.
"We've been blessed with the waves this weekend, I haven't been here in a very long time since we had groms contest, but it's great to be back and to win an event here, the people are awesome and you can tell they love surfing," she reflected. "It's a great warmup with less pressure cause the points might not count in the qualifying race. It was a good opportunity to test some things and get into a good rhythm. I improved throughout the event, and even though I would have loved to score a little bit higher in the final I'm very satisfied with my event."
Dupont, one of the most consistent surfer throughout the entire event, couldn't find the right opportunities in the final's lineup and was left chasing a near-excellent score to catch up on Ado's rhythm. Eventually, Dupont's efforts deemed insufficient and the talented regular-footer had to settle for the runner-up spot.
"I felt good coming into that final but my strategy fell apart, I wasn't patient enough and didn't choose the right waves," she analyzed. "Pauline's best wave I had priority and was a little bit far outside so I had to let her go. It's the second time I make that exact same mistake and it bothers me, but I guess I'll learn from it and be better in the next one. I have a month and a half now before the next big events so I'll go back to training now."
While the women have a few weeks before the next major event in Mexico, Europe's best male surfers can already gear up towards the Martinique Surf Pro starting in two weeks in the Caribbean.