PRAIA DE BAIA, Espinho / Portugal - The Espinho Surf Destination, stop No. 1 on the European Pro Junior series has completed a busy day of competition running through a total 25 heats in fun 2-3Ft (1 metre) waves at praia de baia.
Competitors were eager to hit the water at 7am in glassy conditions to launch their Espinho campaign. A field of excited juniors took on the playful lineup and displayed an impressive level of performance to the satisfaction of a building crowd throughout the day.
Jobe Harriss (GBR) 18, dominated the first round with his signature power moves to easily advance with the highest heat total of 14.56 out of a possible 20. Harriss will join big wave charger Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) in the following round.
â€œIt's been flat for a few days and it got annoying not being able to train or anything,â€ Harriss stated. â€œBut this morning there's a nice little righthand wedge with no wind so it's fun ! I've sort of kept it relatively safe, it's the first heat so everyone's just trying to get warmed into it. I've sticked to carves on my backhand, this is how I like to surf.â€
An ambitious up-and-comer hailing from North Cornwall in Great Britain, Harriss who's previous season saw him crack the Top40 on the regional ladder will try to keep improving his position and battle in the final stages of the event.
â€œI'd like to see myself in the quarters I guess,â€ Harriss continued. â€œThat's my goal and if I get there, it's on to the finals and we'll see what happens.â€
Tommy Boucaut (FRA) 19, also shone in today's tricky conditions with an impeccable style and progressive repertoire of surfing. The young French-Australian made it look easy to throw the fins and fly in the small conditions on offer.
â€œWaves were fun this morning,â€ Boucaut admitted. â€œIt's bigger than the previous days, a little fat but on the set you can make good turns.â€
A part-time resident of both France and Australia, the young natural footer visibly took full advantage of traveling and training across continents to grow into a complete and stylish surfer at only 19 years old.
â€œI live half the year in Australia and the other half in France,â€ Boucaut continued. â€œBut my whole family is French and I'm proud to fly the flag and surf in the European events.
With already two solid results under his belt in 2014, Boucaut looked deadly in his first European event of the season and will be a force to be reckoned with when competition recommences.
â€œThis year I surfed the Pro Juniors in Newcastle and Sunset, but coming from a bad knee injury last year I couldn't do the whole Australian leg. My goal this season is to make the Top 4 and just show what I can do. I had two 5th place results early this year so I'm confident.â€
Following the completion of the men's opening round, the women took on challenging rising tide conditions and stepped up their game to fight through the first elimination round and advance into the event.
Top seeds Leticia Canales Bilbao (EUK) and Tessa Thyssen (GLP) logically won their opening bout and the first surprise came from French surfer Joséphine Costes (FRA) 18, who took the lead over Ana Morau (FRA) with two decent scores to advance into the round of 16.
Kim Veteau (GLP) 16, then put on a clinic in heat 5, taking full advantage of the dropping tide to catch a long peeling lefthander and score an impressive 8.83 out of 10, the highest score of today's action.
â€œIt was a little tricky out there with still a lot of water in,â€ Veteau commented. â€œI started well catching that bomb in the opening minutes and I'm hoping to build throughout the latter rounds.â€
The 2013 European junior ranked 4th and Guadeloupe's ambassador has been improving significantly over the past off season and is looking to assert her dominance this coming leg of events.
â€œThis is a 2-Star event so there's not much room for error,â€ Veteau admitted. â€œMy goal is to win finals this year and clinch the regional title to qualify for the World Juniors. I'm going out every heat for the win and we'll see how it goes.â€
Lucia Martiño (ESP) 20, was the other standout in the women's field, netting the second biggest single score of 8.50 and backing it up perfectly to clinch the highest heat total of 15.33 out of 20.
â€œIt's always a little nerve wracking that very first heat,â€ Martiño said. â€œBut I looked at the waves all day and knew where the good ones were going to break. I just sat and waited for the bomb, and it paid off.â€