It was a very short day of competition at the Pro Zarautz today, with only the four heats of the women's Round Two on the cards. Event officials timed it so the women surfed the best conditions towards a higher tide at the main beach of Zarautz.
There were virtually no surprise in the opening heat as Justine Dupont took another win, and advanced ahead of local favorite Garazi Sanchez-Ortun. She placed second last year in Zarautz, and with Pauline Ado absent this time, Justine made it quite clear she won't settle for anything else than a win in the Basque Country.
"It was trickier than I expected it to be, I thought with 30 minutes we'd get more opportunities but the waves were quite slow," she said. "I love having so much free time to roam around and discover all the pretty and history-rich places around Zarautz. We're having a ball with my mom hanging around in between rounds."
Carol Henrique, whose consistency currently has her lead the women's European title race, managed to take an important first place ahead of former World Junior Champion Alize Arnaud. The importance of first place in that round means she pushed the inevitable confrontation with Justine to the semifinals -- if she can advance past Garazi when the event resumes.
"I was lucky enough to get a really nice left from the outside, it reformed and I got an 8 to turn the situation," she said. "Australia was hard, the level on those events is so high, but I had a great time competing there and I actually improved on previous years' results, so I'm really happy about this."
Maud Le Car had a surprisingly modest first heat in Zarautz yesterday, but came back hungrier in Round Two and stepped up her game to assert her authority here. With the support of Championship Tour rookie Joan Duru on the beach, the St. Martin native looked poised and focused to work on her game.
"I'm super stoked to have my little support crew here with me, I'm improving every heat and look forward to the rest," she said. "Watching Joan at Snapper was just incredible, I loved every minute of it, the atmosphere on the CT is so special and it made me realize how much I want to be on tour as soon as possible. I feel like my surfing is getting better and stronger right now and I'm focusing my work more on mental preparation with my coach Agathe, who's an ex-surfer as well."
California's Marissa Shaw was the last qualified surfer today, and could have missed out on the quarters all together if her heat had ended just a couple of minutes earlier. In last position with not much on the clock, Marissa managed to catch her winning ride away from her competitors and moved from fourth to first.
"I love it here, I came to Spain a while back to study for Uni and I found the Basque Country was the closest thing to home," she said. "I'm staying with a local family and getting the whole experience so it's perfect!"
Saturday will see only the men battle it out in Zarautz for a spot into finals day, with a first call at 9 a.m, while the women will wait until Sunday to wrap up their Basque Country efforts.
Find out all the results, photos, video highlights and daily recaps' right here.