The Caparica Surf Fest powered by Oakley ran through a long day of competition in clean three-to-four foot surf to complete the junior divisions which culminated with the victories of Kauli Vaast (FRA) and Rachel Presti (DEU). Competition also advanced through many rounds of the Qualifying Series to leave the Semis and Final for Saturday with a potential for great conditions.
Unfortunately, heavy rain showers came through right when the men’s Final paddled out and spoiled the party as the showdown between Kauli Vaast (FRA) and Fernando Junior (BRA) promised a highly entertaining matchup. Waves started to back off as well as we approached the high tide mark and the big powerful right off the pier transformed into a softer wall in the middle of the beach.
Both surfers attacked the right on their backhand and had a very similar style and technique, building scores in the medium range, the difference only made by the sections they were able to find. Junior put a good combo of two vertical backhand blasts in the lip for a 6.60 to take the lead on his fourth attempt.
A power and internet cut on the 10-minute mark left surfers in the lineup without information on scores and as the heat came to a close the confusion continued. A dramatic 20 minutes ensued with both surfers wondering what the final result was. When the judges were finally able to punch in all the remaining scores, Vaast had managed to turn the heat with his last two waves to steal the lead and take out the Caparica Surf Fest Junior Pro powered by Oakley.
“It was excruciating to wait for the situation at the end there, I truly had no idea what was going on,” Vaast explained. “I’m so happy to win this event, it’s going to get really interesting with Justin this season and I can’t wait for the next event in La Torche soon.”
Vaast claimed his second win of the year on the junior tour, after claiming the Papara Pro Junior Tahiti on home turf. He also placed third in last week’s Junior Pro Espinho and now ties with Justin Becret (FRA) for the lead on the European junior rankings leaving Caparica.
The Brazilian Junior had an incredible road to the Final in Caparica, starting from the opening round of competition and collecting seven excellent scores along the way, including three over nine points.
“I’m stoked with second place today,” Junior said. “I had a good wave at the end but unfortunately it came out just short of what I needed. I’ve had a great time here in Caparica and I hope to be back to surf this event again.”
In the women’s Final, the sun came back out and conditions settled with nice clean waves gracing the lineup. Rachel Presti (DEU) started right away with a great wave on her forehand and a couple of carves to post a 7.00 point and take a commanding lead. Local Caparica surfer Mafalda Lopes (PRT) answered with a nice combination of backhand turns on a smaller wave and her score came in slightly smaller as a 6.33.
Lopes took a hold of the lead with a small backup quickly after and ensued a battle of the backups. The lead changed hands a few times with average scores dropping for both surfers, until Presti found a gem of a left, destroyed it for an excellent 8.67 to seal her second win in under 7 days, claiming the women’s Caparica Surf Fest Junior Pro powered by Oakley.
“I’m super happy, of course this is what we all strive for so it’s great when it’s happens,” Presti said. “I had good scoring heats and waves were super rippable today so it was fun! I really tried to find a better back up and had a couple bad waves before finally I found that good left and I was happy to make it like that.”
Lopes reached the Final for the first time in her young career and solidified her position as one of the top European juniors after her excellent fifth place in Espinho last week. In the Final, the Portuguese surfer looked for a section to demonstrate her air game, which got her massive scores last year, but unfortunately couldn’t quite find the right wave and eventually had to settle for the second place.
“It’s really nice to have all my family and friends here to support me and to do well,” Lopes said. “My goal has always been to win the European title so I’m going to continue to work towards that and try to win an event too!”
The men’s Quarters ran first and started with a heartbreak for the Portuguese fans who’d already lost Frederico Morais (PRT) earlier today, when Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) couldn’t advance past form Brazilian surfer Krystian Kymerson.
Frenchmen Jorgann Couzinet (FRA) and Charly Martin (FRA) took out the following two heats and Maxime Huscenot (FRA) had a close encounter in the final heat against Nat Young (USA) but couldn’t complete the French trio as Californian Young advanced into the Semis, courtesy of his flawless backhand attack.
Ellie Turner (GBR) took out the first women’s Quarter, courtesy of her backhand attack on a long left for a 6.33 which proved sufficient to distance herself from French up-and-comer Juliette Lacome (FRA).
“I’m super happy to make the Semis,” Turner said. “I got into the Final here last year in a 4-man format so I guess that’s the equivalent. I was a bit nervous coming up against Juliette cause she’s been ripping lately but I just wanted to get some good waves cause it’s super fun out there.”
Teresa Bonvalot (PRT) took out the second Quarter in an exciting all-Portuguese battle against Carol Henrique (PRT). Both surfers used lefts and rights to lay down big turns and put on a show for the Friday crowds on the promenade.
“I just wish the both of us could have met later in the event but unfortunately it was now and I really wanted to win that heat,” Bonvalot stated. “Waves were really good today and I’m super excited for tomorrow and the finals!”
The third Quarter came down to the final seconds and a great exchange between Rachel Presti (DEU) and Eveline Hooft (NDL), Hooft getting the better for the win and to put an end to Presti’s incredible run in Caparica.
In the last heat of the day, former Championship Tour surfer Pauline Ado (FRA) absolutely annihilated a right on her forehand to post a 9.37 and kill all hopes of Junior surfer Bahia Frediani (FRA) early in the heat.
“It was a long day of trying to save energy and control your focus and excitation levels,” Ado said. “I really had fun in that heat, getting that great score right at the start was awesome. My goal is to attack more on the waves and be in the right rhythm and it worked out well in that one, I hope I can maintain that tomorrow.”
QS athletes will be back at 11 a.m to run the final six heats of the Caparica Surf Fest powered by Oakley and crown two new champions.