It's crunch time at the Las Americas Pro Tenerife as the field shrunk in the span of two days from 96 men to only 16. Unfortunately conditions degraded slightly since yesterday, but the reef still delivered contestable two foot surf and the occasional three foot set to cut through the second and third rounds.
Sure your usual suspects mostly got through unscathed, but they didn't put on massive performances either. The surprise though, came from 17 year-old Tenerife local Diego Suarez Diaz , who nailed the day's highest heat total of 15.80.
Diego has been surfing the Junior Qualifying Series in Europe for the past five years and on a clear ascending trajectory, well in reach of a qualifying spot for the World Junior Championship in his final effort this year. He's also slowly transitioning to the QS, and judging by his performance today, a few heads will roll when he decides to commit to the tour in the near future.
"I live in the North and only really come here when it's pumping, so I don't really know the spot all that well," he said. "Today was fun though, I got a couple of nice waves. I want to start doing more QS events in Europe and maybe internationally if I get the chance. But for now my main goal will be my last season in the juniors."
In Round Two, he had nothing of a walk-through, facing long time threats Ethan Egiguren and Andy Criere as well as up-and-coming Brazilian Lucas Vicente. But far from being phased by the tough competition, Diego stepped up and dominated the whole bout, even posting an excellent 8.93 for his radical forehand surfing of a beautiful left.
"It's kind of strange to surf at home, all the events I do are in places where I don't know anybody," he continued. "I'd love for this event to get bigger, I remember going to Lanzarote when it was a Prime event and it was great to see that."
Unfortunately Diego's future was later decided in an uneventful, wave-starved heat in the afternoon, where the battle for average scores didn't turn in his favor.
Compensating for Diego's loss was the remarquable Spanish & Canarian contingent's results with the likes of Kalani Da Silva, Endika Garai, Vicente Romero, Ruben Vitoria, Julen Egiguren and Yael Pena all advancing into Round Four.
"I've just tried to be patient and select the right waves so I'm stoked it paid out," Kalani said. "I'm from Fuerteventura, one of the other islands of the archipelago, but we're a community I can definitely feel the support of the locals here."
There were also a few notable upsets, especially Paul Cesar Distinguin's elimination of Marc Lacomare in their Round Three matchup. Paul Cesar surfed a smart heat and locked in a solid 8.07 for two big and powerful forehand turns to take it away.
"It's always hard to compete against your friends, I was hoping one of them would make it too but it went the other way," he said. "It's pretty tough to get a good rhythm going out there so I tried my best to feel the energy of the waves and be on the best ones this time."
Adrien Toyon, Hodei Collazo, Maxime Huscenot as well as Canarians Luis Diaz and Jonathan Gonzalez were a few big names who did not make it through the second day of competition in surprise eliminations in Rounds Two and Three.
The day had previously started with the remaining two heats of the women's event, to determine the last 16 surfers in contention for the event title.
Surfers and event officials will be back on deck at Las Americas Thursday at 8:45 a.m to check out conditions and decide whether to run competition on the fourth day of the event's waiting period.
Tune in from January 29 - February 4, 2018 for the LIVE Webcast and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here!