The 2017 Pro Zarautz reached the height of excitement today with an exciting finals day disputed in clean, two-to-three foot surf in the heart of the Basque Country.
Gony Zubizarreta went two-for-two, winning the Pro Zarautz only a week after winning in Caparica. He also claimed a second event title in Zarautz, an event he won back in 2009 when it was an ASP 5-Star rated competition.
The Galician surfer looked absolutely serene all week, blazing with confidence after winning the previous Qualifying Series (QS) stop in Portugal. Feeling right at home in Zarautz among some of his best friends, namely Aritz Aranburu, Hodei Collazo and Jonathan Gonzalez, Gony fought his way to the win.
"I'm over the moon," he said. "After winning in Caparica I felt great and super confident in my surfing, and it's always a pleasure to come to Zarautz. Some of my best friends are from here and I've been coming here since forever, this is like a second home."
Despite a better start from Jorgann Couzinet in the Final, Gony remained patient and selective, and his strategy paid off as he quickly picked up a bomb to nail the Final's highest single score, an 8.90 out of 10. A couple of waves later, Gony put a 7.60 on the board and stayed out of reach until the final buzzer.
"I was just enjoying having a great time with Aritz, Hodei and all the boys," he continued. "Jorgann started with two good scores and I really thought I'd get comboed [needing two new scores], but I stayed patient and finally got my waves."
It was Jorgann's Final to lose, as the Reunion Island native was clearly the event's strongest surfer all week. The near-perfect scores he was able to claim in nearly all heats, were nowhere to be seen in the final and the first-ever win once again eluded the current No. 2 surfer on the QS rankings.
"I'm definitely very happy with my three heats above 17 points, unfortunately the Final was a different story," he said. "I was frustrated just to not have anymore opportunities after Gony got the bomb, I simply wanted to continue to surf and show my abilities but that's how it goes. Gony is a really cool surfer, very positive and I'm stoked I got to surf a final against him."
However the incredible form Jorgann displayed in the Basque Country was once again a strong statement about his intentions to stay in the Qualifying Series Top 10 by year's end. Next week in Portugal, Jorgann will get a chance to actually fence with some of the best surfers in the World at the upcoming Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Oakley.
"I tend to surf much better when I'm facing people that are stronger, so I'm really looking forward to surfing in Santa Cruz next week," he added. "If you want to be with the best you need to beat the best, I'm not scared to surf against anyone, I just know I need to do my absolute best to have a chance."
Carol Henrique on the other hand, did manage to claim her first-ever event title on the QS tour in Zarautz. And what a way to do it! Carol beat all the hottest surfers in this event, local favorite Garazi Sanchez-Ortun, superstar Justine Dupont and in the Final, Maud Le Car.
"I'm happy to finally win an event," she said. "Today was just amazing, my Semifinal against Justine was super hard and I knew I needed to work hard."
Carol is now the leader in the European QS title race, and she will leave Zarautz US$10,000 richer, a sum that will certainly play a big role in her qualifying campaign this season.
"Without a major sponsor it's quite difficult to follow the whole tour, and thankfully I have my family's support," she continued. "Now with this money I'm going to afford to go to a few more events so it's really exciting.
"This win is very special to me and I was stoked to have Camilla [Kemp] with me here to share this moment, and I'm thinking of my brother and my family right now."
Maud looked unusually puzzled in Final and wasn't able to select the right waves to perform her trademark carves. She previously maintained a very high level of performance and posted excellent scores in every single heat. Still, her runner-up spot today marks her best result of the 2017 season so far.
The current European Qualifying Series Top 5 stand as follow, for the full rankings, visit the rankings page.
Men's European QS Top 5:
1 - Gony Zubizarreta (ESP)
2 - Jorgann Couzinet (FRA)
3 - Vasco Ribeiro (PRT)
4 - Pedro Henrique (PRT)
5 - Jonathan Gonzalez (CNY)
Women's European QS Top 5:
1 - Carol Henrique (PRT)
2 - Justine Dupont (FRA)
3 - Garazi Sanchez-Ortun (EUK)
4 - Camilla Kemp (PRT)
5 - Peony Knight (GBR)
See all the results, photos, video highlights and daily recaps right here.