Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) has won the Pro Santa Cruz 2018 pres. by Oakley in historic fashion today, claiming victory in the Final against Aritz Aranburu (ESP) held in three-to-five foot surf at praia da Fisica in Santa Cruz.

Stop No. 6 on the 2018 World Surf League (WSL) European Qualifying Series (QS), the Pro Santa Cruz 2018 pres. by Oakley has been treated to a mixed conditions from clean and small to big and unruly, culminating today with Igarashi’s victory.

“You could see the weather change and I really wanted to get a wave before the storm came,” Igarashi said. “I’m stoked I got those two and to take the win. I love being here in Portugal, it’s one of my favorite places and to share these moments with all my friends is great.”

Igarashi had a near-perfect path to the final and rebounded after a close encounter in Round Six to post the highest numbers of the Quarters, Semis and Final. The Current World No. 24 who had a rather slow start on the Championship Tour so far can count on his result this week to boost his morale heading into the rest of the season.

“I’m super excited to go back to California now for the Founders Cup,” Igarashi continued. “I’m representing Japan in Team World so it’ll be a really interesting contest and hopefully with this win I get a little bit of momentum too.”

The final was a busy affair in which both surfers got active early and started surfing a good right-hander lining up in front of the event’s structure. Igarashi got the best of the first exchange with 7.83 that he quickly backed up with a 6.00 point ride. But despite repeated efforts from Aranburu, the gap was too big to fill and Igarashi

Aritz Aranburu (ESP) posted some of the event’s biggest scores and combined heat totals on his way to the Final but fell short of keeping his rhythm going for another heat. A former CT competitor as well, the Spaniard remains a constant threat on the Qualifying Series and could very well lead a re-qualification campaign to fruition if he continues to perform at this level.

“Waves were degrading because of the high tide and the rip bowl was still very strong,” Aranburu analyzed. “My wave selection was pretty bad but from what I hear Kanoa had pretty much the only good wave that came and he was surfing really really well. I’m really happy with a second place still, I wish we could have surfed on the left at lower tide I was having a lot of fun on my backhand.”

Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) had a stellar run in Santa Cruz, but couldn’t quite find any wave of consequence in his semifinal bout against Aranburu and eventually settled for equal third, his best result of 2018 so far. The Moroccan had previously upset the local community when he eliminated the last Portuguese in contention, Frederico Morais.

“Conditions kept changing all day long and that right I wanted to surf turned on and off so it wasn’t easy to build a gameplan,” Boukhiam said. “Aritz got a bomb and I didn’t so I couldn’t really compete. I’m feeling great this year and so far results haven’t come to me so I’m stoked to make a few heats here and hopefully get on a roll from there.”

Victor Bernardo (BRA) suffered a similar fate than Boukhiam, and had to watch his opponent Igarashi on all the best waves of their Semifinal while he was left scouring the lineup empty handed. The equal third place in Santa Cruz is the Brazilian’s best result this season as well and will give him plenty of confidence going into the rest of the season.

“I wasn’t really connected in that one and couldn’t find anything to show my surfing,” Bernardo said. “Kanoa and I had another heat together before and I got him but this time he was untouchable. I got new boards that I’ve been working on with my shaper for a while and they work great so I’m stoked to get a result here and excited about the next events coming up.”

All hopes of a Portuguese event title in Santa Cruz rested on Frederico Morais (PRT), whom unfortunately couldn’t surf past Boukhiam in their Quarterfinal matchup.