Organizing a professional surf competition in Biscaya in the middle of July is not an easy affair. Even if Playa de Arriatera is a consistent spot, it can be shy in terms of swell this time of year. Today a consistent two-to-three foot swell was on offer to start the opening rounds of the Junior Pro Sopela and the forecast looks promising for the rest of the week.
It was a typical beach day that saw the best European Junior talents flock to Sopela's beach breaks. The young professional athletes did their best to steal the show and get the judges panel's attention.
Crozon on all fronts
Mathis Crozon from Reunion Island was the first surfer to reach the excellent side of the judging scale just before the end of Round One. Mathis had to manage his athlete career and scholarship and made the difficult choice to miss the previous European JQS in Portugal as he was stuck on the high school bench (and you have to give him credit for that).
However, he wouldn't miss a chance to showcase his talent in Biscaya.
"It's not the best season I've had, but I wanted to come back in form," he said. "I had two really good rights on my backhand and it felt really good. I surf one heat after the other and I know I have to stay focused if I want to move ahead in the competition. There's a long way towards the final rounds."
From wild Reunion Island to mainland Europe.
Even if they don't have it easy surfing on their volcanic paradise, Reunion Island surfers have shown unprecedented levels of strength and motivation to compete in professional events on the old continent.
Mathis' compatriot Youri Conradi is a taller, stronger kid than most of the under-18 juniors right now. Today the waves were not that big but closing fast, close to the shore and perfectly suiting his style.
"To make sure you drop a good score, you have to be powerful and able to ease the shock when the re-entry gets a bit committed," he said. "It closes pretty fast and you need to generate a lot of speed immediately after take off to put two maneuvers and try to push as much as possible. I got one really good wave where I went straight from the bottom to the top, and hit the lip and landed a critical re-entry to finish."
Local advantage pays off big times.
"I feel so happy, the waves were really fun and I got a couple of good ones," Adur explained. "Stoked to make it through the next round! It's pretty similar to my hometown break of Zarautz. At low tide it really looks like this so I feel comfortable in these waves."
Endika got the day's second-best heat total in the opening round and confirmed his excellent form with an excellent wave and a heat win in the last minutes of the day. His local supporters were cheering on the beach, which will only gave him more confidence for the duration of the competition.
"I felt very good today," he said. "I'm surfing at home and all the crew is here on the beach, cheering on every wave. It gave me a lot of energy. I train everyday on this spot with the Peña Txuri Surf School and this helps to feel confident in those moments. But I will surf heat after heat and see what tomorrow brings."
A similar call has been decided for Thursday at 8 a.m. to continue with the men's action.
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