Following a lay day Tuesday, competition got back underway at the QS3,000 Pro Santa Cruz 2018 presented by Noah Surf House in difficult conditions with wind-affected four-to-five foot surf at praia do mirante.
As yesterday’s storm front passed, the lineup remained extremely bumpy and a very strong side rip challenged all competitors this morning on the outgoing tide. The simple act of staying in position was a feat and scoring a good wave was just icing on the cake for the lucky few who made it through with above average scores.
Championship Tour surfer Jesse Mendes’ younger brother Vitor Mendes (BRA) was the first surfer to find consistency in the tricky lineup as he posted two 6+ scores to make his way into the top seeded Round 4. As the main wave continued to be the inside left, Mendes’ forehand attack suited conditions well and the judges appreciated his attack of the foamy sections and flow navigating the flat portions of the wave.
“Waves were pretty hard out there so I just tried to get as many as I could,” Mendes said. “My first one was nice and I got two good turns so I was happy to get in a rhythm right away. My main goal is to be in the QS10,000 events by the middle of the year so I have to make a few heats in those smaller events. My brother always tries to watch my heats when he can and give me tips, I know he’s got my back and he pushes me to be the best I can be.”
A 9-year veteran on the Qualifying Series, Michael Dunphy (USA) later managed to turn a very average wave into one of the best scores of the day at the time with a fully committed backhand turn right in the lip, drifting his fins and in full control to take his win into Round 4.
“It was really tough, waves were just breaking all over the place,” Dunphy explained. “I found that one big section and tried to square up on it and luckily I came out of it cause for a moment I thought I was going to fall on that one. I feel like I’m surfing good and I’ve worked hard to get better at certain things, so I’m stil here and motivated to do well. I’m trying to just relax myself and surf as I know how to. If I can put it together and be on the right waves I feel like I have my chances and the goal is always to make the tour!”
After a two-hour break around the low tide mark, competition resumed with brighter weather, lighter winds and improved wave conditions. Young Frenchman Leo Paul Etienne (FRA) had a shaky start to his heat but found a great wave to kick things off, nailing two backhand gauges for an excellent 8.67, the highest single number of the entire event so far.
“I actually didn’t know the heat had started for at least three minutes so I missed the first exchange,” Etienne said. “It stressed me out a bit but I’m happy I got that really good wave to starts thing off after. I had no idea what the score was but it felt like two good turns and I’m stoked to take the win in this one.”
Vicente Romero (ESP), Mitch Crews (AUS), Thomas Debierre (FRA), Marc Lacomare (FRA) and Ruben Vitoria (EUK) were the other main scorers of the afternoon.