Frederico Morais (PRT) has won the QS3,000 Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Noah Surf House today in historic fashion, claiming victory in the Final bout against Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) held in playful three-to-four foot surf at praia do mirante.
Stop No. 3 of 12 on the 2019 World Surf League (WSL) European Qualifying Series (QS), the Pro Santa Cruz pres. by Noah Surf House, negotiated a tricky forecast with plenty of swell to culminate in great conditions.
“I’m speechless, it’s my second win on the QS and to be at home it’s awesome,” Morais said. “I didn’t have a good start in Australia and it feels so good to come back here and win in front of all these people supporting me. This is why we do this.”
The former Championship Tour athlete Morais claims his career’s second QS win, after winning the Martinique Surf Pro in 2016 before he went on to qualify for the elite CT. The powerful regular foot came out on top of a stacked field on finals day and built momentum to peak at the right time in the Final against Boukhiam.
The precious 3,000 ranking points collected in Santa Cruz today will kickstart Morais’ effort to re-claim his spot with the Top34 next season, and he’ll have another chance to bank important points on home soil again next week in Caparica.
Boukhiam started early in the Final with a medium score for two turns but it was the local hero Morais who found the best wave early on, a long right that kept serving up sections for the regular foot to unload his signature carves on for a 7.00 and the lead. The Moroccan answered with a three-turn combo on a smaller wave and was rewarded with a 5.67, enough to take back the lead but nowhere near what he needed to put pressure on Morais.
Up against the ropes, Boukhiam found a nice wave of his own but pushed his second turn too hard and came unstuck. Morais on the other hand, continued to build momentum and backed up his best number with a 5.83 to extend his lead.
In the final two minutes, Morais got the Portuguese crowds erupt on the beach as he launched into a forehand rotation, landed it clean and wrapped up the wave with a couple of turns to definitely seal the deal and take out the Pro Santa Cruz.
Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) did try everything until the final seconds of the Final, but requiring a very high score, the pressure got to him and the Moroccan fell on his next few attempts. Boukhiam went one better on his Semifinal equal third result of 2018 and is poised to take out the Portuguese event in years to come.
“I’ve been coming to Portugal since I’m a kid and I absolutely love it,” Boukhiam said. “I’ve know Frederico and Vasco (Ribeiro) for a long time and I’m happy for Kikas to win in front of his people. Having two QS3,000 back-to-back is super cool, I’ve never surfed down in Caparica but I’m super excited to get down there now.”
Earlier in the Semis as the focus switched back to the rights out the back, Boukhiam fired away with a ferocious attack on his backhand to post a 7.67 on his second wave. The Moroccan managed to fit two radical turns in the tightest of sections and looked as lethal as in the morning little left runners. His opponent Luel Felipe (BRA) struggled to find the right waves and fell on a few attempts, ultimately placing equal third, his best result since the Reef Pro Penascal in October of last year.
“It’s a great result for me here and I have one more opportunity next week in Caparica,” Felipe said. “Unfortunately I didn’t find sections to go for airs like I wanted to do, but I had some good fun this week I’m excited to go to Caparica now, I’ve surfed there a few times and it’s a really fun wave.”
The second Semi promised an incredible battle of two powerful regular footers, one just off the Championship Tour Morais and the other knocking on the door of the CT for a couple of years Jorgann Couzinet (FRA). Unfortunately conditions degraded a bit with strong cross shore winds and the tide bottoming out.
After a very balanced first half of the heat with the lead exchanging hands a couple of times, Morais took control of the heat on the 10-minute mark with a 6.60 and Couzinet fell on his first maneuver next trying to answer. The following exchange went the Frenchman’s way but he was left chasing a mid 6 and placed equal third.
“I feel like I did as well as I could on my waves but Frederico obviously got better ones and surfed them well,” Couzinet said. “I’m disappointed of course cause I really wanted to win here but I’m just stoked to be living this dream life. I know I can still improved in certain areas and I’m more motivated than ever, everything’s going well and I’m on track so looking forward to the next one.”