PLAYA DE PANTIN, Galicia - Spain - The iconic wave factory of Pantin served up chunky 6-foot surf for both the women's and men's heats on Day 4 of the Pantin Classic Galicia Pro. In challenging conditions, the level of performance was pushed wave after wave to offer an incredible day of action to a packed audience sitting in the natural arena.
Hodei Collazo (EUK) 30, put on a dominant performance, unleashing his signature power-carves to collect the highest heat total of the day, an excellent 17.27 out of 20.
â€œI watched all the girls' heats before mine, and it looked hard to find the good ones,â€ Collazo explained. â€œI got lucky. I think at the beginning there I got an 8.00. I found another good set out the back and linked it up into the inside with a couple of good maneuvers. I spent the rest of the heat waiting but I never got another wave.â€
In a very wide lineup, Gony Zubizarreta (ESP) 29, managed to find an absolute screamer in the opening minutes, to log two huge turns on a double-overhead set and score a near-perfect 9.23. The local hero didn't slow down, backing his first ride with another solid score just seconds later, as he was paddling back out.
â€œI've been here since Monday for the press conference and watching the contest every day since, I was itching to get out there,â€ Zubizarreta said. â€œAll my friends did well so I really wanted to get through as well. Pantin always looks nice but I knew it would be hard to find the gems. I couldn't believe I got that first wave it was insane I'm so stoked. Paddling back out I got another good one, that was just icing on the cake.â€
Defending event champion Steven Pierson (PYF) 30, came close to elimination in his Round 4 bout, catching the qualifying ride in the very last moments of the 25-minute exchange. An exhausted Pierson came in smiling, keeping his hopes of back-to-back wins in Pantin alive one more day.
â€œI was so lucky in that heat,â€ Pierson said. â€œI almost came in because I thought I wouldn't have time to paddle back out. I gave it a try, managed to get out the back quickly and caught that final wave that got me second place. This was such a close call.â€
The women's 6-Star Pantin Classic Galicia Pro completed the Round of 12 in a moving lineup where the surfers' endurance and fitness were tested. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 20, secured the highest heat total of the round, navigating through huge sets to find good scoring opportunities.
â€œIt's a lot of hard work, those big sets definitely keep you on your toes,â€ Macaulay said. â€œIt's really hard to tell, but I was just trying to find one with the possibility to do at least two turns.â€
In Heat 2, current World No. 16 Pauline Ado (FRA) 23, faced fellow French surfer Alizé Arnaud (FRA) 24. Ado scoured the lineup to find her two scores but eventually took the win, not only advancing to the quarterfinals of the event, but also claiming the 2014 ASP Europe Women's Champion trophy.
â€œI felt a bit lost at sea, I saw a couple great waves before my heat but just couldn't find them out there,â€ Ado commented. â€œMy goal is to keep going in the contest but obviously the level of the girls in Europe is great so that trophy is always a nice bonus, I'm stoked.â€
Surfers and event officials will reconvene Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. local time to reassess conditions.